Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness

Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness

Last night I locked myself out of my unit. This was the third time in 22ish years. However, last night was different. Yes the situation / context was very similar – I locked myself out of my unit. However, the difference was my reaction, my inner talk and how I handled it.

In my heart I knew there was really only one solution (the same thing I had done previously – ask for help from the locksmith). Fortunately, I had my phone in my hand as I was talking to a friend on the phone whom was coming to dinner. So I called the people whom I have used before. On the phone I gave them the details and said I had lasagne in the oven (as that was dinner). Luckily, the locksmith came within 15 minutes. It took a while to get in, however we did with minimal changes to the door and the lasagne was saved.

So how did I handle it so quickly? I saw what I needed to do (grateful for the many years of practise in mindfulness and training my mind), I took responsibility quickly, stayed grounded in what was happening (i.e. felt my feelings), had genuine compassion and kindness for myself (now this has definitely not been the case previously) and then forgave myself for making the error and recognise that no-one is perfect (yes this has been a challenge for me to untangle in my life) and released the situation 🙂 For me – this is how I measure my life and can see how much I have grown since I started this adventure as I used to struggle asking for help.

Subsequently, in today’s post I wanted to explore the topic of asking for help, including –

  • What is asking for help?
  • Why do we need to ask for help?
  • 5 myths about asking for help!
  • How can we ask for help?


What is Asking for Help?

Asking for help is a process of asking and then allowing yourself to receive that support from other people.


Why Do We Need To Ask for Help?

Honestly – because we are not an island and I don’t think we are meant to do everything by ourselves. Let me explain further.

In your life, would you agree there are some things you really enjoy doing, are passionate about and are good at? And then there are other things you just don’t like doing, are not so passionate about and are possibly not so good at?

Well the good news is some of the things we do not enjoy doing are other people’s strengths and gifts. This is one of the reasons why it is important to ask for help – we allow other people to share their gifts with us, which in turn allows us to receive as well.

N.B. Please know I am not talking about avoiding important tasks here as sometimes we still need to do the tasks we don’t want to do and are not our strengths – i.e. remembering to take out the garbage!


5 Myths About Asking for Help

There are many myths associated to asking for help. Some myths are explored below –

Myth: Asking for Help is a Sign of a Weakness.

Reality: Asking for help is not a sign of a weakness, but a sign of a strength. “The strong individual is the one who asks for help when he needs it.” ~ Rona Barrett

Myth: “I shouldn’t have any challenges or need ask for help.”

Reality: In this statement we are criticising ourselves. Self-criticism is not a helpful strategy to feel better despite it being socially acceptable. In fact, it can cause you to feel insecure and inadequate. Subsequently, we need to develop self-compassion. Self-compassion means I think my problems are also important and worthy of being attended to as well as your problems. Self-compassion is about being with our challenges and seeing them as they are not numbing them or pushing them away, which is more self-indulgent.

Myth: “I am burdening other people if I ask them for help. They are already busy.”

Reality: There are many people who love to help you, if given the opportunity. When you ask for help, you provide a space for people to shine as they share their gifts and talents with you. As Jim Rohn said – “Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don’t go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won’t laugh at you.”

Myth: “I am not worthy of help or support.”

Reality: Everyone is worthy of help, love, belonging and support – as we have all made mistakes and need help in our lives, no one is perfect.

Myth: Asking for help means “I am incompetent.”

Reality: “Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” ~ Anne Wilson Schaef


How Can We Ask For Help?

When you are starting to ask for someone for help, I think it’s important to start by asking someone you have a good relationship with. For example, someone –

  • who knows you quite well,
  • talks to you,
  • smiles at you,
  • really listens to you, and
  • takes an interest in what you do (i.e. the activities you enjoy).

When we are asking for help, we also need to remember to have self-compassion. What is self-compassion –

Christopher Germer in his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions refers to self-compassion as “… simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” 

In her book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Dr Kristin Neff refers to self compassion as having three components –

  1. Self-kindness – be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental.  
  2. Common humanity – feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering (i.e. experiencing our imperfections). 
  3. Mindfulness – that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain and exaggerating it.

Also, in the The Force of Kindness, Sharon Salzberg wrote – “this kind of compulsive concern with “I, me and mine” isn’t the same as loving ourselves… Loving ourselves points us to capacities of resilience, compassion and understanding within that are simply part of being alive.”

Remember the person you ask for help may say no, so if you have a good relationship with them beforehand and self-compassion, the no will be ‘softened’ per se. Here are some questions you may like to use when asking for you –

  • Can I ask you a favour?
  • Can you please help me with ..?
  • Could you spare me a minute?
  • Is there any chance, I could get some support from you with …?
  • Would it be possible if you could help me with …?
  • I could do with some help at the moment with …, do you have some time to help me?


Over to You…

I hope this post has helped clarify some myths around asking for help and if you have any questions, please contact us. If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?


“We’re all imperfect and we all have needs. The weak usually do not ask for help, so they stay weak. If we recognize that we are imperfect, we will ask for help and we will pray for the guidance necessary to bring positive results to whatever we are doing.” ~ John Wooden


P.S. Thanks again to the locksmith who helped me last night and also for V for experiencing this little adventure with me. You were a great support (especially when I needed to make sure I was ringing the right person as I left my glasses inside the unit…) xxx And yes, I intend to take a breath to ensure I have my keys before I leave my home next time when speaking on the phone 🙂

References –

Germer, C. (2009). The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and EmotionsNew York: Guilford Press.

Neff, K. (2011). Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. New York, USA: HarperCollins Publishers.

Coping and Coping Strategies

Coping and Coping Strategies

When you experience stress, what do you do? Are you conscious of your coping strategies or not?

Today on the journal I wanted to discuss coping and the different coping strategies and tools we use to adapt to stress and transform the challenges we experience in life. Because, let’s face it we all experience stress throughout our lives.


What is Coping?

There are many definitions on coping, including –

  • “the process of contending with life difficulties in an effort to overcome or work through them.” ~ Medical Dictionary / the Free Dictionary, or
  • “constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person.” ~ Lazarus and Folkman.

After reading the above definitions on coping – what does it mean for you?


What Are Coping Strategies?

According to Skinner and Zimmer-Gembeck (2007) –

“A coping strategy refers to “how people respond to stress as they contend with real-life problems” (Skinner and Zimmer-Gembeck.” (p.124).

Coping strategies are ways we use to deal with, alleviate and manage stress within life. Coping strategies can be emotional, cognitive, behavioural or a combination of all three. And, when it comes to coping strategies, we need to (un)learn what is best for us. I say (un)learn as each of us is unique and the strategy we used when we were younger may not be useful today.

Over time, researchers have generally tried to categorise the different ways of coping. For example –

  • problem-focused coping versus emotion-focused coping,
  • problem-focused coping vs. emotion-focused coping vs. appraisal-focused coping,
  • engagement vs disengagement, and
  • approach versus avoidance and many others.

However, this has proved limiting and a hierarchical model of coping evolved.


The Hierarchical Model of Coping

Skinner and colleagues (2003) developed a hierarchical conceptualisation of the structure of coping. The structure includes – coping families, ways of coping and then coping instances. For example –

  • Coping Family or Family of Coping – includes the ways ways of coping that serve that same set of functions. For example – problem-solving is the coping family and includes the ways of coping – strategising, planning and instrumental action.
  • Ways of Coping – relates to a broader category of coping that explains specific coping instances. For example – reading a book on creating boundaries would fall under the way of coping “reading”.
  • Coping Instances or Instance of Coping –  is a specific action that a person takes to deal with a stressor. For example – a person call a friend to ask for help in relation to a specific situation. Basically an instance of coping is the answer to the question, “What did you do exactly to deal or cope with this situation?”.


Coping Strategies – Helpful or Unhelpful?

As you will see in the following diagram there are many different coping strategies. I have only included 5 of the twelve families and the associated ways of coping from that particular piece of research.

One thing I have come to realise over time is that human beings are very resilient and use coping strategies to survive and deal with stressful situations. Today, some of the strategies that we used in the past may need an overhaul as they are no longer serving us.

For me a personal example of this is eating chocolate. I know when my stress levels are getting higher, I turn to chocolate. I am aware of this NOW, however in the past I was not, as chocolate was one way I comforted myself to deal with stress in my life (or some would say a maladaptive coping strategy). Yes some people may refer to that as emotional eating, however I think it is pretty clever that the little Jane thought of this coping strategy when she was younger and used it to get through hugely stressful experiences / times in her life. Now the different is that I can choose when I eat chocolate, why I eat it and how I eat it as I have become much more aware of my own coping strategies and stress levels.


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to coping and coping strategies. Remember the coping strategy that worked for you in the past may not be as useful today, so be kind to yourself as you discover what works best for you now 🙂


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?


References –

Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, Appraisal, and Coping. New York, USA: Springer.

Skinner, E., Edge, K., Altman, J., & Sherwood, H. (2003). Searching for the structure of coping: a review and critique of category systems for classifying ways of coping. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 216–69.

Skinner, E., & Zimmer-Gembeck, M. (2007). The development of coping. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 119-144.
The My Self-Care Journal is Now Published…

The My Self-Care Journal is Now Published…

Yay – the My Self-Care Journal is Published…

This journal is dedicated to Jo Mason. I was lucky enough to work with Jo in a National Mental Health and Wellbeing project many years ago ?

I valued many things about Jo and yes she was the person who introduced me to the concept of self-care, when I most needed to hear it. She was a true pioneer in the space of educator and school mental health and wellbeing in Australia and I am forever grateful to her and what I learnt from her. I hold many of our conversations close to my heart, in particular one of them at the Japanese Gardens in Darling Harbour, just before we heard the Dalai Lama speak. These are some other words I wrote about Jo as a keepsake created by Tracy for her family ?

Thanks also mum for investing your time to support me and picking up any grammar issues – you are a gem and this journal reads clearer because of you ?

Thank you to the clients whom have walked this adventure with me over the years and also made comments on the e-version for the past two years or so ?

And finally thanks Jill and Tracy who helped me connect with one of Jo’s daughter – really appreciate it ?

Thank You…

So thank you if you have read this far and for those people who have asked, this is the link to find out more where you can purchase it or find out more here.


Also – thank you so much to the clients, friends and perspective clients who gave feedback on the original Slow Down and Tune in Journal. After your feedback, that journal has now evolved in to the My Self-Care Journal and is now gender neutral – so yes young men and womxn can purchase the journal. So thank you all!

What is Resilience?

What is Resilience?

Recently, I have been talking a lot about resilience. And, yes this often misunderstood concept is something close to my heart. In fact, I wrote an article on it back in 2006 on it and republished some of it here. However, today I am just going to share some knowledge about the concept, so let’s get started…


What is Resilience?

Resilience has been a concept that continues to grow and evolve over the years. Within the dictionary, some definitions of resilience include –

  • “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or thelike; buoyancy.” ~
  • “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” ~ Google and Oxford Dictionaries
  • “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.” ~ PsychCentral

Within the research, resilience continues to prove popular and some of the research indicates –

  • (Resilience is) the universal capacity which allows a person, group or community to prevent, minimise or overcome damaging effects of adversity” ~ Grotberg, 1995, p.6,
  • “…personal resilience strengths are the individual characteristics associated with healthy development and life success” ~ Benard, 2004p.13,
  • “Resilience refers to the process of overcoming the negative effects of risk exposure, coping successfully with traumatic experiences, and avoiding the negative trajectories associated with risks” ~ Fergus & Zimmerman, 2005, p.399, and 
  • “the capacity of individuals to navigate their physical and social ecologies to provide resources, as well as their access to families and communities who can culturally navigate for them” ~ Ungar, Brown, Liebenberg, Cheung, & Levine, 2008, p.168.


Bonnie Bernard’s Personal Resilience Strengths 

In the above definition by Bonnie Bernard, she refers to personal resilience strengths. It is important to note that these personal strengths do not cause resilience, but are the positive developmental outcomes that demonstrate that these innate individual characteristics are engaged (Benard, 2004). The four categories of personal resilience strengths are:

  1. social competence (communication skills; being responsive to others; having empathy and caring for others; forgiveness and compassion);
  2. problem-solving (planning; flexibility; help-seeking; critical and creative thinking);
  3. autonomy (a secure sense of identity; self-worth; initiative; ability to cope; sense of humour); and
  4. sense of purpose (hope for future; personal goals and values; sense of faith; connectedness with others) – (Benard, 2004).

To develop these innate personal strengths and produce good developmental outcomes, young people need to be in a nurturing environment. Some of the environments the young people are involved in include schools, families, and communities (including sporting clubs). A nurturing environment is one where the young person experiences caring relationships, high but achievable expectations, and authentic opportunities to participate and contribute (Benard, 2004).


So What? 

Recognising that we each have an innate ability to transform the challenges of life is a gift. However, the thing is like most things in life, it takes work, practise and action. However, you are worth the effort.


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to resilience. Do you think developing and enhancing resilience would be useful in young people and also adults? If you have any questions, please feel free to write them below. 

Also, if you liked this article and want to keep learning about resilience and how we can continue to foster resilience in our whole livesplease feel free to join the Life Beyond Elite Sport community by clicking here.


References –

Benard, B. (2004). Resiliency – What Have We Learned. San Francisco, CA: WestEd.

Fergus, S., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2005). Adolescent resilience: A framework for understanding healthy development in the face of risk. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 399-419.

Grotberg, E. (1995). A Guide to Promoting Resilience in Children: Strengthening the Human Spirit. Early Childhood Development: Practice and Reflections. Den Haag, Netherlands: Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Ungar, M., Brown, M., Liebenberg, L., Cheung, M., & Levine, K. (2008). Distinguishing differences in pathways to resilience among Canadian youth. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 27(1), 1-13.

The Power Within Knowing Your Explanatory Style

The Power Within Knowing Your Explanatory Style

The people I work with have a few things in common: they are smart, highly motivated and want to make a difference in the world. A lot of them are also stressed and are on their way to or are recovering from burnout.

On the outside, they appear calm and confident. But on the inside, they are scared and worried – maybe even have a bit of imposter syndrome. Even though they know they cannot go on living like this, they are unsure of where or how to start to change and whether they have the capacity or ability to deal the possible setbacks when the changes don’t go according to plan.


The Power of Explanatory Style

Explanatory style is your way of explaining about events that happen to you (i.e. often referred to as bad events). It is a habit of thought learned in childhood/adolescence. Seligman (1990), says “your explanatory style stems directly from your view of your place in the world – whether you think you are valuable and deserving or worthless and hopeless.” 

There are 3 dimensions to your explanatory style (the 3 P’s) –

  • Permanence (is about time): temporary v’s permanent,
  • Pervasiveness (is about space): specific v’s universal, and
  • Personalisation: internal v’s external.

By identifying your explanatory style, you can see if it is more pessimistic or optimistic. The explanatory style of a pessimist is –

  • Permanence (is about time): permanent (i.e. thinking in “always” and “never”),
  • Pervasiveness (is about space): universal (i.e. people who catastrophise – have a challenge or failure in one area of their life and allow if to spread to other areas and believe bad event have universal causes), and
  • Personalisation: external (i.e. blame other people or external events).

The explanatory style of an optimist is –

  • Permanence (is about time): temporary (i.e. thinking in “sometimes” and “latelys”),
  • Pervasiveness (is about space): specific (i.e. optimistic believe that bad events have a specific cause and good events will enhance everything), and
  • Personalisation: internal (i.e. take responsibility and cause good things).


The Power Within Knowing Your Explanatory Style

Do you think identifying your explanatory style would be useful? If so, following are 3 simple questions to help to start to discover your explanatory style using the 3 P’s –

  • Permanence – is this experience temporary or permanent?
  • Pervasiveness – does this experience have a specific cause or universal cause?
  • Personalisation – is the cause of this experience internal or external?

Once you discover this, you can start to choose to do the work and make any tweaks.


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to the power within knowing your explanatory style. By becoming aware of your thinking habits, you can train your brain to be more resilient and deal more effectively with challenges and obstacles. Also – if you wanted to hear Sheryl Sandberg talk about the application of the 3 P’s, click here.

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?


Reference –

Seligman, M. (1990). Learned Optimism. NSW, Australia: Random House.

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