All month we’ve been talking about helping those in need. We talked about the benefits of helping others and how to help the recent victims of the hurricanes out east. Helping those in need or less fortunate is a great way to connect with community, to make the world a better place and to boost your own spirits. There’s no down side to helping.

But what happens when you need to ask for help?

While it’s true donating your time and money can make you feel good, sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes we need more help and for many of us, asking for help is nearly impossible.

Most people don’t ask for help until they reach a breaking point and that’s unfortunate because recovery is so much more difficult at that point. If we could learn to ask for help right when we need it, we wouldn’t have to suffer for as long or as deep.

Of course people don’t ask for help because they think their problems aren’t worthy of help until they reach that critical breaking point. People don’t ask for help because they don’t want to be a bother to their friends and family. The problem with that kind of thinking is that friends and family want to help. Even strangers are inclined to help those in need. We go through life pretending everything is okay when if we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and ask for assistance those around us would rush to help.

Next time you’re feeling down try to reach out and ask for help. Here are some ways to start.

How to Ask for Help

Start Small – If you’re aren’t the kind of person who asks for help it may seem overwhelming to pick up the phone. Start small. If you use social media you could update your status asking for prayers or good thoughts. You don’t need to go into details about why you need, just asking is enough and most people will respect your privacy. It’s amazing how even a few “likes” on a status update asking for good thoughts or prayers can really make a difference. Give it a try.

Make a List – At one time or another we’ve all been in a position where friends, family and even strangers have offered help. Maybe your husband died and your neighbor offered to help but you didn’t take her up on it. Maybe the daycare provider has offered to babysit because she knows you don’t have the resources to hire a sitter. Whatever the reason, you know plenty of people who have offered help. These are the people who are willing to help when you are in need and would be thrilled to get the call that you need a little hand. Knowing you have a list from which to choose those who would help can be very calming.

Make the Call – After you’ve made your list choose one person off the list and ask them for help. It’s okay if it’s your mom or sister – go ahead and call whoever you think will be most likely, willing and able to help you.

Be Specific – When asking for help be as specific as possible. Most people are delighted to help but they have commitments and responsibilities too so be mindful of that and don’t make any open requests. If you need help with a ride to the grocery store or beauty parlor suggest you go when it is convenient for them and work around their schedule.

Don’t Get Discouraged – If you’ve made the call and asked for help but the person couldn’t assist you – for whatever reason – don’t take it personally. That they were unable to help at the time does not mean you are not worthy of assistance or relief. It just means the person you asked was busy. Move on to the next person on your list.

Thank You – Of course it goes without saying but be sure to thank the person you asked for help – whether they were able to help you or not. Let them know how appreciative you are of their support and how much it means to you. You can even offer to return the favor when they are in need.