“Why does it feel awkward to offer help?”

That was a question I got from someone recently, and I have to admit, it made me stop and think. I came up with several reasons.

  • I could be rejected and it will hurt.
  • I could look like an ass because the other person will think I have ulterior motives.
  • I could be rejected and it will hurt.
  • I could feel incompetent or unqualified if my offer is not accepted or acknowledged.
  • I could be rejected and it will hurt.
  • I could fail and not be of any help at all.
  • I could be rejected and it will hurt.

I know- but that’s how it works sometimes in my head.

I spent quite a lot of my life working to make life better, both for myself and for others. When it happens together, it becomes an amazing experience that energizes me and gets me through the times when it appears nothing much happens. The operative word is “appears”.

I have learned that my willingness to help, by just showing up and providing the offer of a shoulder, a hand or an ear does something not immediately recognizable outside of my own feeling of usefulness- it creates a grounding for me, much like it does with electricity- it keeps me connected. Sure, there’s a worry that someone will not understand my motives or feel uncomfortable accepting, but that’s not the point. The point is that I do this just as much for me as for them. It’s practice- practice in moving beyond my fears of rejection and hurt to do good simply because I think it’s good. Just because that’s the person I want to be- and even am, sometimes…. Just because offering help is an offer of self.

And really, what could that hurt?

3 comments on ““Why does it feel awkward to offer help?”

  1. Journeyman Dan says:

    Read your comment through and was impressed how much thought you gave it. You got the male psyche down but I would add one point that you didn’t mention. Men use talk to jockey for hierarchical status and controlling positions. For a man to ask for help immediately signals to other men that he is weak and thus loses status in that world. I came up with this when I was pondering the question “Why do men hate to ask for directions?” I think it might apply to the general question of asking for any help.


    • Excellent point- thanks for taking the time to write. I hate asking for directions- mostly because I never feel lost… 🙂

      D Gregory Smith, MA_________ Whoever can see through fear will always be safe. -Tao te Ching


  2. gg says:

    ” Why do men hate to ask for directions?” This male (me) is dyslexic and I always get lost, usually in Maine or New Brunswick. Arrrgh.

    I get rejected a lot, taken advantage of/by when trying to help. I retreat for a while, then go back out there. I do have hope that there is goodness out there and I ain’t gonna find it unless I look. Am I a masochist or just adventuresome?
    I don’t have time to analyze since it spoils today.
    “Quid petis, O Fili?”
    “Quis scit?”



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