asking for help

Why Don’t You Know What I Need?

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I’ve been thinking lately about the notion of intuition. But my reflection is not focused on the “gut feeling” we’re often told to trust; instead, it has been about the ability (or inability) of others to sense another person’s needs and to respond to them without being asked. I am trying to balance what is reasonable with what is fortune-teller-like and I am thinking about whether or not I am an intuitive friend to others – and whether they are to me.

I write this with an admitted hesitancy to ask for help. Yes, I am that person who feels bad asking others to do something for me. It’s not so much that I view asking for help as a weakness in myself. I think it is more that I never really want to put anyone out. I never want to inconvenience anyone and am not comfortable asking them to change their plans to accommodate me.  Ironically, I am also the one who gets easily frustrated by friends who don’t ask for help when, clearly, a little assistance would go a long way in making their situation easier to handle. It’s a dichotomy, I know; a classic kettle meets pot situation.  But I bet a number of readers will see themselves in what I wrote.

I also pride myself in being an intuitive friend. For the most part, my friends don’t have to ask for help. If I’m aware of a need, I often step up to help long before I’m asked. But please don’t misunderstand me. I am not tooting my own horn or making myself out to be some kind of exemplary human being. It’s just the opposite, really. I help because it makes me feel good. I am also a born problem-solver. So for me, an offer to help is really a way to solve a problem. I am, in fact, a pretty selfish person.

And so if I never ask for help, but find joy in offering it, why am I spending so much time reflecting on what’s painted as the ideal situation for me? The simple answer is that I am miserable. I have painted myself into a really uncomfortable corner where my inability to ask for help comes to a point with my frustration about others’ inability to actually sense that I need it sometimes. And in that corner, I am annoyed – mostly at myself – for the disappointment I often feel when people fail to step up.

As part of writing this blog, I did a little bit of research and came across a really great article called “8 Struggles Highly Intuitive People Experience Every Day.” Published by the Huff Post, one of the struggles outlined is that “We feel weirdly responsible for fixing the world’s problems.” And so true that is! Perhaps the reason I often step up to help without being asked is because I internalize everything. And with that comes a deep desire to just make things better. Again, it may sound valiant. But damn it, I’m exhausted.

Interestingly, the number one struggle cited in the article is that “We always know when someone is bullshitting us, even when we aren’t able to say anything about it.” The author claims that in order to maintain peace in our professional and personal relationships, we often don’t call people out on their “absolute lack of awareness.” Instead, we experience the frustration I have already described.

And so I will just say this. If you are not typically an intuitive coworker, friend, or partner, maybe try just a little harder to anticipate someone else’s needs. If you’re not sure what they need, ask. Everyone needs support for something at one point or another and a simple, “What can I do to help?” means a lot. Maybe at the moment you ask, they won’t need a thing. But they will know that you’re willing to help when the time comes. And for those like me, I can only suggest this. Try harder to communicate what you need. People are not mind readers and not everyone is as intuitive as you might be. While that can be extremely frustrating (and downright annoying sometimes), the people who love you aren’t being intentionally clueless. And, if you’re clear about what you need and they still fail to step up … well, then maybe you’re just better off without them.