10 reasons we don’t ask for help

A few years ago my husband, Stephen, and I had to take a last minute business trip. My twin sister offered to watch our two boys, one with profound special needs. When we got back from our trip and I asked her how it went, she said, “It was really, really hard.”

I looked in her eyes and I felt seen. I broke down crying.

If you’re a mother of young children, caring for someone with special needs or aging parents–you understand. It is hard. Years ago, I almost never asked for help. I tried to do it all myself. My husband was willing and able but I still tried to shoulder most of the load. I didn’t want to burden my husband, friends or family. I thought I could do it on my own. I thought it was my JOB to do it on my own.

It wasn’t any one task that was hard. Giving a bath wasn’t hard. Changing a diaper wasn’t hard. Giving medication wasn’t hard. Scheduling a doctor visit wasn’t hard. Feeding a child wasn’t hard. Even dealing with a tantrum, while exhausting, was still do-able. But all of it–all of the tasks, to dos, emotions and being available 24 hours a day was HARD. It was overwhelming. Honestly, it was suffocating.

Why don’t we ask for help? I’ve spent time thinking about this and asking friends for their perspective. I’ve worked hard to overcome false beliefs in my own life and start to ask for help–and I still have a lot to learn.

Here are 10 reasons we don’t ask for help.

  1. We’re so tired we can’t figure out HOW to ask for help.
  2. We think we should be able to do it alone.
  3. We worry someone else won’t love this person as much as we do. Even worse, what if they hurt the person we love?
  4. We’re afraid we’re not doing a good enough job and you’ll judge us.
  5. We can’t ask for a favor because we don’t have room to repay the favor.
  6. Paying for help is expensive and we can’t afford it.
  7. We don’t want another person around. Life is already complicated without adding another personality.
  8. It’s easier to do it on our own–that way we have control.
  9. Our house is a mess, our heads are a mess, life is a mess and we don’t want you to see our mess.
  10. If we ask for help and take a break we might realize how overwhelming it all is and completely fall apart.

Our family is in a season with lots of doctor visits. David has a big spinal surgery coming up and we will see all of his specialists for clearance before the surgery. I counted last week and we 9 doctor visits in Los Angeles before his surgery. It’s big and overwhelming and we need help. I can’t do it alone. So I’m slowly looking at what we need, thinking of practical ways people can help and then I’m doing something crazy–I’m asking. We’re hiring caregivers and showing them how to care for David. We’re asking friends to bring meals. We’re planning overnight care for David during the surgery recovery. It’s imperfect and messy but it’s necessary. I’m learning how important help is–and I’m feeling hopeful.

My word for this year is ‘simplify‘. I want to make space for David’s medical needs, surgery and my emotional well-being. I want to keep our calendar manageable and avoid overwhelm. I want downtime to read, walk and rest–even in this stressful season. I want to feel my feelings and speak honestly. I want to build a community of people who love and support us–and who we can love and support. We have help and it’s amazing. My heart is full of gratitude. I want to continue building a team of people who help us. I want to make space so we can help others too! I truly believe our burdens are lighter when we carry them for each other.

My word this year is S I M P L I F Y. I’m loving this necklace. Click image for details.

Do you have a word of the year {or a word of the season}? What do you want your life to look like? How do you want to change and grow?
Click here for the Word of the Year necklace.

How can you ask for help? I see you mama–pouring out love on your kids. I see you friend, caring for your aging parent. I see you teachers and doctors and nurses and therapists–you pour out love and care for others. You matter–your needs and wants, thoughts and feelings MATTER.

Personalize with a meaningful word, special names, dates or a phrase.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does this list resonate with you? Why is so hard to ask for help?

Click here for the Word of the Year necklace!


  1. I read this months ago and failed to comment or respond as it it way too close to home. We have a 19 year old (born in July too!) daughter, Abby, who has significant special needs and these 10 reasons are right on. I struggle with doing it alone (#1), worried about judgment (#2), being able to repay the favor (#5), adding more complications and personalities (#7), and the biggest of all….control. I started buying your jewelry in 2010 before I knew your story, Lisa. I bought a simple “a” disc and added a pearl. I have worn in for 11 years now and it always reminds me of what God put me on this earth for – to love my daughter and to have her life bring joy to others. And to show God’s work in our lives. I have purchased other pieces and they are all so meaningful. Now, I am reading your blog, book and learning about your families story and am even more impressed with Lisa Leonard. Thank you for sharing your heart, life and struggles with us. Thank you so much, you really are a blessing to others and an encouragement. I have found so many one liners or thoughts I have written down to remind me of my purpose, God’s love and how to just keep moving on. Thank you is just not enough.

  2. I can relate! I have a son with a rare genetic disorder. Why don’t we ask for help? I’m thankful for your transparency. I think you are right on with simplify as your word! I’m working on that this year!! God’s blessings to you as you journey on!
    Take care – Chandra from South Carolina

  3. Thank you for this spot on educational explanation! I’ve screenshot the list for future discussions and as a reminder now that I can be the helper.
    Having become widowed at 23 with 3 children under 6 and no family on either side for 1600 miles I definitely fought to do everything myself. Too exhausted, confused, scared and naive to ask, not to mention the dread of rescheduling our world to helpers availability. I will never downplay the difficulties so as to educate those well meaning outsiders with free flowing advice for others in binds. Better to offer specifics in a manner one can accept with dignity by not seeking to discuss any perceived shortages. “Can I … on …? (don’t add ‘for you’) or …. rather than a trash bag of hand-me-downs take over clean , good conditioned, neatly folded items with a casual comment like “I hope these will fit” or “Too pretty to pass to just anyone. :)”.
    And Thank You Fred, Alice, Jeannie, Larry, Julie, Toren, Mrs Collins… I am forever grateful.
    Take heart, take help, and take care of yourselves.

  4. I can understand not asking for help. My husband passed away when my son was 2 and daughter was 6weeks old. For me these children are my responsibility and I need to be there. I laughed and still do 13 years later what do I do for me. I get some help but I don’t depend. I always feel i gave birth to these angels they are for me to care for. No one can do better than me.
    I am drained so I truly cannot understand your feelings. Thank you for sharing and prayers are always with you and your family.

  5. Perfect article!!! Thank you for sharing. It’s like you made sense of all of the jumbled up thoughts I had that I was never able to form into a sentence. And huge props for asking for help this time around. ❤️

    1. Iona,
      For me, #2 wasn’t pride. It was fear of tragically failing my children. Seeing myself struggling so hard and (to a degree) unsuccessfully at times relative to onlookers brought up fear, even terror that if I couldn’t take care of my babies they would be harmed by neglect or taken.
      Now, they are raised. They’ve gifted me with their children. They honor me and I now I feel pride that I raised them. Still I know deep down they deserved and would have been better served if I had not been so very afraid. Drowning, I had no energy to feel pride at the time.

  6. As a person who schedules my life around my illness of Stage IV breast cancer, I can relate to your reasons for not asking for help. I will add you and your family to my prayer life, and this is one way I can help. Thank you for being honest and raw. I am guilty of saying all is well when really, it’s not. Peace, Lisa

  7. Asking for help is tough. I think the reason I hesitate to ask for help is…people let you down. If I just do it myself, I know it will get done.

  8. Oh man. You have such a gift for writing – this post made me cry! My darling daughter has some extra medical needs and this fall was super super tough (pain, doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgery). We are in the upside now (with some unknowns) and I am 1) feeling like I might be a bit PTSD? 2) wondering why I didn’t get more help and 3) trying to plan for moving forward without knowing what will happen with her.
    I know control is a “thing” for me. I certainly know about being too tired to ask and worrying about someone else doing as well as me.
    I do not have any answers but reading this has helped.
    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *