Where men have been historically stereotyped as headstrong providers (who, for instance, refuse to ask for directions on the road), women have been pigeonholed as nurturing caregivers who unfailingly shoulder the nuclear family’s domestic burden (all while wearing a warm smile, of course). But as we all know, a major problem with stereotypes — and with expected gender roles, in particular — is that they leave little room for individual differences, evolution over time, and a healthy sense of flexibility under ever-changing life circumstances.
One social expectation that fails to acknowledge the best interest of many women is the assumption that asking for help is a sign of a “weak” mother, partner, or individual. In an effort to maintain a sense of pride in the face of this misconception, many women struggle to ask for help — even when doing so would bring much-needed relief. However, it’s important to remember that the “shame” associated with reaching out for help need not be anything more than an outdated illusion.
Long-held assumptions would suggest that being a strong, independent woman requires gracefully taking on challenges solo. But enlisting outside help when it’s needed can actually liberate you to better nurture your independence (for instance, by clearing time for self-care essential to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally strong). While there are many reasons why women hesitate to ask for help in their own lives — including fear of rejection, seeming incapable, being a burden, losing control (especially in one’s own household), and the belief that we shouldn’t need to ask for help in the first place — there are even more benefits to be gained from releasing those fears and challenging oneself to seek support anyway.
First and foremost, follow your flight attendant’s pre-takeoff instructions: put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. When you tend to your personal needs first, you can be a better partner, parent, friend, employee… you name it! Women are expected to nurture those close to them, sometimes at the expense of nurturing themselves. Especially during challenging or chaotic times, it’s essential to find time for yourself; but because there are only so many hours in a day, and because humans have only finite emotional energy, this often necessitates asking for support.
So, whether in the workplace or at home, dare to seek support from those in your personal and professional networks. Start with friends, family members, and trusted colleagues, and consider enlisting professional help. Leveraging your available resources to achieve the best possible outcomes doesn’t mean relinquishing control, admitting defeat, or succumbing to weakness; it simply means knowing yourself (including your limitations) and taking the actions necessary for your success. It takes strength and self-awareness to acknowledge life’s challenges and accept a helping hand to overcome them.
Rather than covering up our vulnerabilities and asking for help as a last-ditch effort, let’s remember these words of wisdom:
“Humans are not designed to go through our days, careers or family life without constant feedback and support from others. We are social creatures and we are better together.”
Couldn’t we all use a pair of helping hands in our daily lives? Fortunately, Pepper’s Personal Assistants are here to help! When you’re ready for some household management assistance, help with errands and chores, and customized personal support, reach out and experience all you have to gain from accepting support.