Ask and You Shall Receive

Posted on March 16, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The other day I walked into a conversation that seemed to be about the adage “you have not because you ask not.”  The gist of the conversation was this.  Most of us don’t ask for help when we need it because we have all kinds of (wrong) ideas about what it means to need help.   In refusing to ask for help, we not only hurt ourselves, but we also hurt our potential helpers.

Many things keep us from asking for help.  Pride (I already know what the answer is).  Fear (If they only knew, they would reject me).  Our perceived inadequacies (If they find out I don’t know, they’ll think I’m a fraud).  Inconvenience to others (I don’t want them to go out of their way just for me).  We don’t want to be selfish, a taker.

Many of us were taught as kids that to ask for too much was simply too much.  How many times did we hear an adult say stop pestering me or ask me again and you’ll get nothing?  Socialization (family, education, geography, gender) taught us that we should be quietly content with what we have.  Or that only brown noses, weaklings, etc. ask for help.  The rest of us do it ourselves.

Did I mention that the ideas we have about asking for help are likely wrong?  In addition to hurting ourselves when we don’t ask for help, we hurt others by depriving them of the opportunity to give.  To help others is part of our basic humanity.  It’s how we find common ground.  It’s how we connect.

It took a couple of days for me to fully process this conversation.  I thought of all the hundreds of times I have not asked for help when I needed it, and, as a result, all the harm I’ve caused myself.  I thought too about all the times I’ve offered my help and been rejected, and how it gave me a bit of a hollow feeling inside, even if the offer was as simple as carrying a heavy load for a complete stranger.

Inevitably, I thought about running. How many times have I wondered why other runners train or eat a certain way.  Where they learned a particular technique.  How they do what they do.  But I haven’t asked.  Even when I’ve been in physical pain and their knowledge could have helped me.

Why?  Since hearing this conversation, I can’t think of one good reason.

What do you do when you need help?


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5 Responses to “Ask and You Shall Receive”

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Asking for help is certainly something I personally must work on – thanks for the reminder!

Love the new look of your website!


Thanks! I know I need a reminder just about every day!


I ask. I don’t believe there’s ant such a thing as a “bad” or “stupid” question. Unfortunately, I have at times been treated like my question was dumb. In those cases, I don’t ever ask that person again. Illusion is a great way for some people to avoid what’s most important.


That’s true, lots of people seem to live by illusion. I agree with you too–there is no such thing as a bad or a stupid question.


[…] After two sprint triathlons and I won’t say how many years, it finally occurred to me that maybe I should take a lesson.  I did recently figure out, after all, that it’s probably a good thing to ask for help when you need it. […]


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