First responders occupy a unique space as they are tasked with constantly putting others’ wellbeing and safety before their own as they serve the people in their communities each and every day.
The ability to reach out for help in one’s personal or professional life is an essential skill. However, it needs to be actively practiced in order to produce benefits.
While this role of a guardian or protector may feel at odds with asking for help, the ability to reach out during times of difficulty is an important skill to ensure that each first responder is keeping themselves mentally and physically healthy. Taking steps to normalize asking for assistance can initially feel like a counterintuitive practice for first responders. However, it is paramount in caring for oneself and, by extension, properly serving one’s family and community.
Why Asking Is Such a Hurdle
Asking for help can be a complicated hurdle on its own. While the act of asking another for help may seem simple on the surface, it can be incredibly difficult in practice. As a result, asking for help demands that an individual understands why it seems difficult in the first place.
Receiving assistance can inherently cause an individual to feel like they are in a vulnerable position. One may feel as if requiring assistance indicates that they have failed in some way, or that they are now in debt to another. Others may feel the inherent vulnerability is a negative thing in their lives. It is also possible that asking for help can be a hurdle due to trust. An individual may believe that they are the only ones who can tackle the issues in front of them.
For first responders, these can all be common feelings. First responders are typically asked to maintain an air of stoic heroism that shouldn’t need help. There can also be a fear that showing any kind of weakness can compromise one’s ability to do their job, handle high-stress situations, or affect their image in any way. However, this creates a cycle of isolation that needs to break.
Changing the Mentality
While the actual act of asking for help is simple, the mentality surrounding it can be a major block. Learning to ask for help is not about engaging in exercises to raise one’s voice. In fact, first responders may already be able to speak clearly and effectively as a result of their work. Rather, learning to ask for help either at home or in the field instead means addressing the mentality surrounding the act.
Breaking through the resistance surrounding asking for help and proving to oneself that it is okay to be on the receiving end is a major mental shift. Small instances allow an individual to see the potential benefits and change therein. Asking others to help cover shifts, borrow an item, or help carry something are all low-risk propositions to begin normalizing the idea that asking for help is okay.
These little things serve a great purpose. Not only can asking these questions begin to instill the idea that asking for assistance is not a big deal, but it can also help to establish trust between oneself and others. Asking for help does not have to be a universal practice, but rather the development of a relationship with a few trusted people. Embracing trust and normalizing these questions is the cornerstone to building these beneficial relationships.
Asking and Ordering
Asking for help is inherently different than ordering another to aid in something. While asking for help is an exercise in trust, vulnerability, and the development of camaraderie, commanding another to assist does not reflect these same goals. Learning the difference between asking and commanding is essential in developing the right mentality surrounding assistance, and creating a healthy atmosphere for a person and their family, friends, and coworkers.
Knowing what one wants before reaching out for help can aid in gauging the effectiveness of asking for help. Setting these clear expectations can help an individual vocalize exactly what they may need help with. Doing so also helps to identify when others may go beyond what they are expected and make themselves into trusted, supportive people.
Provide Time and a Chance
Breaking through the stoic mentality of one’s preconceived notions surrounding asking for help takes time. While reaching out is a huge step even on a small scale, it is still important to provide others a chance to help. It can take time for an individual to complete a request, and sometimes those who prove to be invaluable in one’s goals are unexpected individuals.
Embracing this new mentality is not something that can be rushed. Taking time for oneself and only developing a deeper trust in those who are consistently by one’s side is a perfectly healthy approach to embracing this new and important norm.