Asking for help vs Independence – a false choice?


We start with valuing independence and self-reliance as valuable virtues. Over time, it develops into a pride point. And then the mindset of “If you want it done right, you better do it yourself” develops. Of course, this is the fastest way sometimes. But doing it yourself is definitely not the best way at all times. And we all know it too.

And then we learn that when someone says “No” to what we ask, it is personal. We ask someone for help and they say no, we are insulted and mortified and swear never to ask anyone for help. On the other hand, if they do help out, then we feel obligated to them – and we know that obligations are bad, they are very bad. We have learnt this too.

The craziness is that these so-called positive values have built up over the years mostly without conscious thought and have not been evaluated in the context of our lives and what we want .

Reading Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking alerted me to this pattern in my thinking. I pondered about this asking for help, and independence and self reliance quite a bit. And realized that to grow, we need to ask. Anything “entrepreneurial” needs people, and we need to ask people. For anything “artistic” we need people and we need to ask people.

However, I still value independence and self-reliance – maybe not as much as before, and definitely not exclusively. So how can I ask for help and be independent at the same time?

I realized I was setting myself up with a false choice. I can be self-reliant and independent – but at the same time intelligent enough to know when to ask for help and humble enough to actually ask it, and generous enough to take no for what it actually means.

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