6 Reasons We’re Afraid to Ask for Help

6 reasons we are afraid to ask for help

Even though struggles and obstacles are a part of life that everyone has to deal with, some of us are afraid to ask for help. As coaches, we also can often encounter clients who struggle to ask for help when they need it. This reluctance to seek assistance can stem from a variety of reasons. 

Some people experience the benefits of asking for help, yet others hold themselves back and suffer silently. Whether you are struggling in your professional or your personal life, not asking for the help you need can be detrimental to your success.

In this article, we will explore six common reasons why people are afraid to ask for help and discuss strategies for overcoming these barriers. You can use these for yourself or for your clients.

1-Pride Stands in the Way

People who are independent by nature tend to struggle when it comes to asking for help, because they believe they should do everything themselves. But while independence is a great trait to have, it can become a detriment. The pride that comes with it can get in the way of getting things accomplished promptly. 

For example, pride may make you take twice as long to solve a problem than it would  if you asked for help. Independence is honorable, but, when you let pride stand in the way, you may be hurting yourself more than you realize. But there may be other factors that are causing you to refrain from asking for help.


2-Fear of Rejection

Fear of rejection is a big reason people fail to ask for help when they need it. This fear can be a debilitating experience that holds people back from reaching their full potential. It can also prevent individuals from taking risks, forming relationships, and achieving their goals.

These people are so convinced that everyone will say “no” to whatever they ask, that they think it’s better not to ask in the first place.

By not asking for help because you believe the other person will reject you, it’s as if you don’t think they care enough to help. This shows an insecurity that will keep you from accomplishing your goals, and may keep others from connecting with you on a deeper level (insecurity tends to repel people).

Often, the fear of rejection is rooted in negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and the world. Reframing these thoughts can help to reduce the fear of rejection. For example, instead of thinking of rejection as a personal failure, try to see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Remember that rejection is not always a bad thing, and it’s not always about you.

Having a support system can be crucial when it comes to overcoming the fear of rejection. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and validate your feelings. Friends, family, or a therapist can help you to see things from a different perspective and provide you with the acceptance that you would rather be feeling.


3-Fear of Being Judged

Another reason that people are afraid to ask for help is that they are afraid of being judged. They may worry that asking for help will reveal that they are not capable or competent, and that others will see them as weak or inadequate.

To overcome this fear, it is important to remember that everyone needs help at some point, and that asking for help is a sign of strength and resilience. The first step to overcoming the fear of judgment is to understand where it comes from. 

Often, the fear of judgment is rooted in past experiences of judgment or feelings of inadequacy. Reflecting on these experiences and understanding how they have affected your perspective can help to identify the source of your fear and begin to work through it.

Another important step is to challenge your negative thoughts and beliefs about judgment. For example, if you believe that asking for help means that you will be judged as weak or incompetent, try to reframe this belief by reminding yourself that asking for help is a sign of strength and maturity. 

It’s also important to remember that judgment is often a projection of the judger’s own insecurities, rather than a reflection of your worth as a person. This can help you to detach from the judgment and see it for what it is: one person’s opinion.


4-Fear of Being Exposed As an Imposter

The “Imposter Syndrome” is a phrase used to describe people who go through their lives doing what needs to be done, all the while feeling they will be exposed as a fraud. They may be having success, but they think it is luck that has gotten them thus far, rather than any real skill or knowledge.

This fear of feeling like an imposter can grow to a point where it is difficult to ask others for help because, by asking, you “may be exposed”. Like the other fears about asking, this one can have detrimental effects on both your personal and professional life. 

Imposter syndrome, also called “perceived fraudulence”, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments.

To counter these feelings, you might end up working harder and holding yourself to ever higher standards. This pressure can eventually take a toll on your emotional well-being and your performance.

You might develop imposter feelings if your parents pressured you to do well in school or compared you to your other sibling(s). It can also occur if you have been sharply criticized in the past. And, academic success in childhood could also contribute to imposter feelings later in life.

In order to overcome the fear of being seen as an imposter or fraud, you need to challenge the doubts you have about yourself. Is there actually any evidence pointing to this conclusion? Instead look for facts that contribute to countering the idea that you are an imposter.

Another way to overcome this fear is to stop comparing yourself to others.  You may not excel in every task you attempt, but you don’t have to, either. Instead of allowing others’ success to highlight your flaws, consider exploring ways to develop your own innate abilities.


5-Feeling Shame or Guilt

Many people don’t ask for help because they feel ashamed or guilty about their situation. They may believe that they should be able to solve their problems on their own, and that asking for help is a sign of failure. This can lead to feelings of shame and guilt, making it difficult to reach out to others for support.

Shame and guilt can come from past experiences, societal expectations, or internalized beliefs. For example, someone who grew up in an environment where they were expected to be self-sufficient, may have a hard time asking for help as an adult. Or someone who has internalized the belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness, may feel guilty for not being able to handle everything on their own.

To overcome the fear of asking for help due to shame or guilt, it’s important to understand the source of these feelings and challenge the underlying beliefs. Reflect on past experiences and how they may have influenced your perspective. Identify the thoughts and beliefs that are causing you to feel ashamed or guilty.  Then come up with the ways that your belief isn’t true.  In psychology this is called “cognitive reframing.” 

It’s also important to practice self-compassion and remind yourself that it’s normal to need help, and that asking for help is a sign of strength and maturity. It takes courage to admit that we need help.


6-Lack of Trust

Some people are afraid to ask for help because they don’t trust that they will receive the support they need. They may have had negative experiences in the past where their requests for help were not taken seriously or were met with resistance. 

Maybe they were let down or hurt by someone they trusted, or they may have difficulty trusting others due to past traumas or negative experiences. This lack of trust can make it difficult for them to open up and ask for help, even when they really need it.

To overcome this barrier, it is important to build trust with the people you would like to ask for help. You can practice building trust in safe and small ways. Start by asking for small favors and build up to bigger requests.  Start with people you feel comfortable with, like friends or family, and gradually work your way up to asking for help from professionals or authority figures. This will help you build trust and become more comfortable with the process of asking for help.


By understanding the source of your fear, challenging negative thoughts, and taking small steps to ask for help in a safe environment, you can build the confidence to take the next step and get the help you need. Asking for help is a sign of self-awareness.

Additionally, it’s important to find a supportive and non-judgmental person or group to ask for help. Talk to friends, family, or a therapist about your fears or hesitations, and seek their advice and support. They can help you see things from a different perspective and provide you with the encouragement you need.

Overall, when you get into a situation where you need help but hesitate, you may be experiencing one of the above reasons. Overcoming these fears and insecurities can help you move into the life you have always wanted.

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