Asking for and accepting help is something that feels so natural for many of us. Yet, some people find it incredibly hard to do so.
I’m sure you have at least one person like that in your life. Maybe a stubborn friend or family member who always insists that, “No, thank you, they’re fine.”
Or maybe it could even be you!
Why do some people find it so tough to let others in, even when they’re clearly hurting? It’s complicated, for sure.
But what’s fascinating is that these individuals often fall into certain personality types or categories.
In this article, I’ll talk about those types of folks who find it hard to accept help. Hopefully, they’ll help you see where they’re coming from and understand them better.
Let’s dive in!
1) The overly independent
“I’ve got this!” That’s the overly independent person’s mantra.
Don’t get me wrong, independence is definitely a good thing. The problem is when it makes you see asking for help as a sign of weakness.
Which is exactly how overly independent people think. They think needing others diminishes their worth or capabilities.
Real talk – this mentality can be exhausting. Physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I’ve got friends who are exactly like this, and I’ve seen them eventually burn out. But believe it or not, they still wouldn’t ask for help!
If you’re an overly independent person yourself, now would be a good time to ask yourself why. Is it pride? Parents who modeled this behavior? An inner drive to constantly prove yourself?
Whatever the reason, I’d love to assure you that accepting help is not the weakling move you might be thinking it is. In fact, knowing how to ask for help is a sign of strength and wisdom.
Because it means you understand that you’re not meant to go through life alone.
2) The avoidant
Next up is the avoidant type. These are people who steer clear of emotional intimacy, often out of fear of rejection or judgment.
I have to admit that this is a category I used to belong to. I was the type who would rather handle things alone than expose my vulnerabilities.
When people would ask me how I was doing, I’d give them a bright smile and a perky “I’m fine, thanks for asking!”, as if I wasn’t going through some tough times.
And for a while, it worked well. On the surface, it seemed like a great strategy. I got to maintain a certain image, keep people at arm’s length, and avoid all those awkward conversations.
All’s well and good, right? Wrong.
The problem with this approach, as I eventually found out, is that you end up missing out on the healing power of emotional connection and support.
Keeping people at a distance kept me from getting hurt, but it also meant I didn’t get nurtured or supported. I didn’t get to be loved the way I needed to be.
The bottom line: it feels incredibly lonely.
3) The socially anxious
Are you the type to overthink situations involving other people? Do you find social interactions uncomfortable and downright nerve-wracking?
You just might be a socially anxious type. And I’m sending you a virtual hug because I know just how difficult it is to go through trying times while also not having the courage to ask for help.
When it comes to asking for help, socially anxious people face unique challenges:
- Fear of judgment and concerns about how they will be perceived can paralyze them from reaching out
- Overthinking and overanalyzing the potential outcomes of asking for help, which then results in…also paralysis
- Social exhaustion from interactions, which makes the idea of asking for help even more daunting
- For some, low self-esteem makes them believe they’re not worthy of others’ time or assistance.
And so, more often than not, they simply suffer in silence.
In this light, I’d love to share something I’ve learned over years of volunteering. It’s this – people generally want to help, they just don’t know how or whom to help.
So, if we don’t speak up and ask, how would they know, right?
4) The distrustful
Now this is a group that would probably pull a skeptical face when they hear me saying that most people want to help.
Because in their experience, that’s not the case. Once burned, twice shy and all that.
And so, they’ve developed this mindset that there’s no point in asking for or accepting help because they’ll just get disappointed all over again.
5) The pessimist
This type takes distrust to the next level. They don’t just trust the person who wants to help, they also don’t believe there’s any point in it.
Because of their pessimistic outlook in life, they tend to see any situation as a throwaway. As in, “why bother? It won’t make any difference anyway.”
What’s even worse is that it’s a rather self-perpetuating cycle. They reject help because they assume it won’t matter, and then their problems persist, reinforcing their belief that help is futile.
If that sounds like you, it’s a tough one to break, alright. And there’s no other way around it but to suspend disbelief. To have a little leap of faith and give people a chance.
6) The perfectionist
Ask a perfectionist if they need help, and chances are they’ll tell you they don’t. Because perfectionists often believe that if they want something done right, they have to do it themselves.
I used to be this way, too. When I had to do something, it had to be just right.
So, if someone stepped in and helped me out and did not meet the standards I wanted, it just made me more distressed than when I started out.
This mindset has some obvious drawbacks. In a nutshell, it can be incredibly isolating and exhausting.
When you convince yourself that you’re the only one capable of handling things, you inevitably take on too much, spreading yourself thin.
At the core of perfectionism is a deep fear of failure. Of making a mistake. So to relinquish control – to let things go a bit – that’s kinda scary for a perfectionist.
7) The control freak
Speaking of control brings me to this next type that’s notorious for not wanting to accept help – the control freak.
Control freaks have an insatiable need to manage every detail. Plans must go smoothly. People must behave according to plan.
No doubt about it – control freaks like being in charge.
They believe that if they control all the variables, they’ll control the outcome, or at least that’s how the thinking goes.
Their need for autonomy is strong. Pair that up with a fear of vulnerability and a distrust in other people’s abilities, and you’ve got someone who won’t accept help even when they’re drowning.
8) The self-sacrificing martyr
Do you have a family member who makes sure everyone’s needs are met? They’re the type who run around and get all the chores done, assist everyone who needs assisting, and just seemingly exist to serve.
The self-sacrificing martyr is quite a noble character. However, as the name suggests, they always put their needs last, if at all.
They tend to think that their problems aren’t as pressing, their needs aren’t as important, or that they can handle it all without assistance.
The trouble is, they have a subconscious belief that their worth is tied to their ability to endure hardship for the sake of others.
So, they often have difficulty asking for or accepting help. In their mind, they’re the helper, the caretaker, the one who sorts things out. Accepting help reverses that role, and it can feel incredibly uncomfortable.
Or, for some, the refusal to ask for help may come from resentment. According to Healthline, people with a martyr complex who feel unappreciated purposely don’t accept help to make the others feel guilty.
In this sense, it can be a little manipulative.
9) The Transactional
I once had a roommate who viewed relationships as transactional. By this, I mean that she had a habit of calculating what she’ll owe in return if she accepts help.
Everything had to be on equal terms – somewhat like “I scratch your back, you scratch mine.” It was a way to keep interactions clean, without the messy emotional ties that come from simply giving and receiving freely.
I couldn’t just do something nice for her without her feeling the pressure to do something nice back for me.
It was quite frustrating, honestly.
The thing is, this kind of mentality was also the reason why she never asked for help. I can understand that, given her view of relationships – if she accepted my help, then she’d have to be in my debt.
And that wasn’t a spot she wanted to be in.
Needless to say, we didn’t end up having a genuine connection. That’s how it is when someone is transactional; the relationship takes on a shallow and mechanical nature.
We don’t normally think of accepting help as a way to build connection, but it absolutely is. You know why?
Because at the core, it shows you’re willing to be vulnerable. And as researcher Brené Brown said, “Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
Personally, I love it when someone comes to me for help. It makes me feel valued and useful. (That’s also why I said that most people want to help).
And it goes both ways. When I let myself be vulnerable enough to ask for help, I end up feeling closer to the other person.
If you’ve been holding back from accepting help for whatever reason, I’ll leave you with another gem from Brené Brown:
“We don’t have to do it all alone. We were never meant to.”