Category Archives: Relationships

5 Mistakes When Asking For Help

1. Being Vague

Have you ever wanted help on a problem you didn’t want other people to know about? So you ask for help but change the details so they won’t know the truth. I’ve done this, and many times I’ve taken their advice and not gotten the result I wanted. After this happened many times, I’ve learned the problem is the person giving advice can’t give you accurate advice if they don’t know all the details of the situation.

Think twice before asking for help from someone you wouldn’t trust with all the details. It’s best to share all the details as you ask for advice, or to not ask for advice. If you decide to be vague be very cautious taking the advice you receive, because it is likely the wrong advice given they do not know your situation.

2. Asking Someone without Expertise or Credibility

Have you ever asked your friend for help because they were your friend? Or asked a mentor, parent, authority figure, etc. because it was their role in your life to help you out? This might work for simple problems, but as you become an adult with adult problems, it becomes more and more important to ask for help from someone who is experienced in the area you are having trouble with. Adult problems are complex enough that most people don’t know how to solve all of them, so you will benefit greatly from the knowledge and expertise of a specialist.

Before you ask for help, check for credentials or proof of prior experience.

3. Asking at the Wrong Time or Place or Situation

The worst time to ask anyone for help is when they are rushing to the bathroom to answer nature’s call. It’s a funny example but it highlights the message clearly: recognize the situation. If someone is busy, or they have 10 minutes of free time and you’re asking for 10 hours, or you need help with something that’s 1,000 miles away from someone and you need the help right now, then it’s not practical to even ask.

Plan your request ahead of time and qualify the situation by asking them if they have the availability and resources to help.

4. Using the Wrong Form of Communication for the Problem

If you need paragraphs to explain, don’t text. Call or email.

If you need something urgently, call don’t email.

If what you are talking about is emotionally charged and you need to pay attention to body language and tone and respond quickly to how the other person will react to what you are saying, do it in person, don’t text or call or email.

If you have useless information, post it on social media 😛

5. Not Accounting for Bias

If you ask a hammer salesman for help, the hammer salesman will likely recommend a hammer. If you ask a drug salesman for help, the drug salesman will likely recommend a drug. Whoever you ask for help will give you the solutions they have used for their life. Recognize this and exercise wisdom in choosing who you ask for help.

Be aware of bias. Ask help from people who recently solved problems similar to yours in the way you want to solve your own problems.

The person you ask help from will always bias their advice towards leading you to live a life similar to their own life. Everyone thinks they make good life decisions, so their advice will be based on their own decisions. If they don’t have the life you want, take their advice with a grain of salt.

Furthermore, if they have the life you want but they achieved it 10-30 years before you, know that the world has changed so their advice is likely out of date. Taking advice that is biased to a world that is long in the past is equally bad as taking advice that is biased to solutions you do not want to use.

Misc Comments

  • Healthy people expect healthy ways of asking: politely and respectfully. If you’re accustomed to unhealthy ways of asking for help, recognize that you will alienate healthy people from understanding or engaging with you.
    • If you ask for help in unhealthy ways, the only people who understand you are other unhealthy people. It’s nice that unhealthy people are willing to help, but they often lack the healthy skills to effectively help. This means the only advice you will get is unhealthy advice. So make sure 1. the person you’re asking is healthy 2. the way you ask is healthy so that 3. the advice you’re getting will lead you to a healthy life.
  • I followed the advice of old people who said they regret choosing career over family. So I chose family over career and I suffered the consequences of fighting for survival without money or a career. Then I realized the bias in the survey: them saying they regret career over family is a luxury they could afford to say only because they had a career. If you polled old people without a career and without a family they would wish they had a career and family. 
    • Don’t take advice blindly. All advice is biased and you need to think through what the message is and how it applies to you.

How to Successfully Help Your Friends in Difficult Emotional Situations – Sweet Disposition

The first thing to keep in mind when helping someone in any situation is that while your good intentions are valuable, they don’t guarantee a positive impact. For example, if someone needs open heart surgery and you are not a surgeon, then no matter how much good intent you have, you should not attempt the surgery. If you do not know what you are doing, you are better off doing nothing because at least you won’t make things worse.

Here’s the overview on how to successfully help your friends when they are Emotionally Charged. 

  1. Do not assume you know their problem.
  2. Do not assume you understand them.
  3. Do not assume you know the solution.
  4. Do not offer solutions without understanding the problem first.
  5. When you offer a solution, calmly and logically explain how your solution addresses the problem in specific detail.
  6. All Problems are unique. Respect the uniqueness of their problem by treating it with special care. Do not dismiss it as a common problem.
  7. Acknowledge them and their emotions, their story, and their perspective.
  8. Do not force your interpretation of the situation on them. You can only make statements that build on their reality, not statements that describe a separate reality from their experience.
  9. Be available at anytime.  The idea that the person in pain should reach out, schedule, plan, wait, and then get help is not possible when the situation is an emergency. If you truly care about your friend, try to drop what you’re doing and help your friend. If you have an emergency yourself, then let them know that you truly care about them and wish you could help but you must take care of an emergency yourself.

Things to not say because they are not helpful:

  • “The solution works for me.” Good for you, but this doesn’t help your friend. Guide your friend through the solution, and then react to the reality. If the solution did not work, then you did not help your friend and saying ‘it worked for me’ still does not help your friend.
  • “Cut it out” or “Get better.” These are insensitive words that place responsibility and blame on your friend and shows a lack of care on your part to take any responsibility as a friend to try to help your friend.
  • Stupid questions. They waste time and make the friend feel insulted.
  • Tell them “to go talk to someone else,” “go talk to a health professional,” “go get help” without explaining you wish you could help but can’t.
    • It comes off as insensitive when you brush them off without explaining why. The “I wish I could help but can’t” makes the message so much more caring. Without that wish, it makes the friend think “What do you not care about me? It feels like you’re just throwing me away” and it gives your friend the “not my problem, go deal with it yourself” impression. So make it clear: I wish I could help you but I don’t have the ability/professional skills to help. If you can, offer to help the friend find help and then do so.
  • Don’t tell them to do the work. They are sick. DO THE WORK FOR THEM. You are being insensitive to their struggle when you give them ‘solutions’ that create more work for them to do.
    • Solutions that add work to them make you seem like an insensitive jerk. Yes, people should help themselves, but in an emergency, you should step up and help them when they are unable to help themselves.
    • If they are in a vulnerable state, telling them to do this or do that adds stress and makes them feel like they aren’t in control of their life and that you’re taking control of their life from them.  It makes them feel like you’re better than them, and feel like they are weak and useless. Even if this is true, it doesn’t help them to make them feel this way because you’re making things worse by making them feel bad.
    • It is insulting to give solutions that a healthy person could do themselves, because the fact that they aren’t doing it should tell you that they are too sick to do those solutions. Your solutions make you insensitive to their current situation.
    • Flat out insulting someone with statements like “you’re messed up man, stop being in pain” do not help. Asking stupid questions or making stupid statements further makes them feel like you don’t care about them because you aren’t paying attention to the specific difficulties of the situation that they are going through. Give them the care and attention to find out what’s wrong. Doing otherwise gives the impression you don’t care enough to actually help.

Song of the Post

Google says: Disposition = a person’s inherent qualities of mind and character, or the way in which something is placed or arranged, especially in relation to other things.

Help your friend achieve a Sweet Disposition by honestly listening and understanding their Sour Disposition, and nursing them like a baby by doing the work for them to create a Sweet Disposition in their emotional and mental state. .

Communicate What You Want – Life Skills

Don’t lose the skill of describing what you want to other people.

I came from an abusive background where people ignored my requests. Every time I described what I wanted, I would either be yelled at or ignored, so I eventually learned to not describe what I want. As the years went on, I gradually lost the ability to describe what I want. I even stopped asking myself what I wanted at all.

When I moved to a healthy environment with people who were supportive and helpful, I struggled. They wanted to help me, but they didn’t know what I wanted from them and I forgot how to communicate what I want.

I started to relearn how to communicate what I wanted with baby steps.

Each of the following stages took me many attempts to learn before I could progress to the next step.

  1. I remembered to listen to my feelings at all after suppressing them for so long.
  2. I would get people’s attention when I wanted something by making a noise or taking an action.
  3. I would let them know the reason I wanted their attention is because I want something.
  4. I would try to describe what I want, and I would be misunderstood, and I would not get what I want, but at least in this step, people were trying to give me what I want.
  5. I would describe what I want accurately, and people would help me get it or direct me to others who can help me get it.

If you find yourself not getting what you want like I did, ask yourself if you are stuck in steps 2-4 where you are trying to communicate what you want, but you are actually communicating that you want something, but not what it is you want.