THE BLOG
09/26/2016 04:49 pm ET Updated Sep 25, 2017

How To Know When (And How) To Ask For Help

Humans are emotional and often irrational creatures. From birth until a certain age, we are taught to believe they we cannot do anything wrong. Our feeling is, we have a problem and it will be solved because our parents love us unconditionally.

At a certain point, around the age of 3-4 when we can begin to speak, humans start to feel that love is conditional. Kids are scolded, children rewarded for doing "good," and through it all, many people develop psychological trauma.

This is especially true in the Western world where life is so abundant, yet many feel as though they are plagued with trauma. Much of this feeling "not good enough" plays out all through adulthood. Children grow up and their relationships become riddled with these same deficiencies from their childhood.

One of the biggest problems is learning how to ask for help. Kids are often taught at a young age to be self-responsible and that asking for help is somehow a burden. Because we are all so preoccupied with being "good" in the eyes of others, we lose our ability to ask for help.

Confidence and Asking for Help

It is counterintuitive, but the most confident people in the room are the ones who are most capable of asking for help. These people are confident because they realize that they are not omnipotent and they're okay with that. They are okay with not having all the answers and needing the support of someone else to get them.

In contrast, a person who cannot ask for help is scared to show vulnerability. They are scared to acknowledge their lack (of knowledge, skill, whatever). This is a key difference between a confident person and one who is insecure. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's actually a sign of strength.

Preparing for the Big Show

Everyone needs help now and then, but the people who are afraid to ask for it often have the most difficult time when they really need it. There are approximately 65 percent of rapes or sexual assault that go unreported (or more depending how you measure). This is often because the women don't feel that they can ask for help.

There are many reasons a woman might not want to ask for help after being sexually assaulted. Yet, someone who cannot ask family for help is going to have a much harder time telling complete strangers about a traumatic experience. The reality is, if you want to be able to ask for help when it really matters, it starts with the little things.

For many people, asking for help might mean going to a professional. Richard P. Console Jr. has made a career helping others, but notes that only a small fraction of those who are able to do so actually take action. Most people who could win big settlements never even ask for help even outside of sexual assault.

When Can You Ask for Help?

There is a difference between asking for help because one is helpless versus genuinely needing the assistance from others. As Aristotle wrote, the "Golden mean" is the ideal goal. The ideal scenario is to be comfortable enough to ask for help when you don't have the answers.

The alternatives, holding in information for fear of looking bad or just asking for help to play the victim, will never benefit you in the long run.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.