Accepting Help When You're Fiercely Independent

Our culture admires independence, power, and resilience. While embracing independence in the face of a divorce can be freeing, it can also leave you feeling alone and vulnerable at a time when you need support the most. 

Finding the courage to ask for and accept help

Divorce may be the most important time to have a reliable support system. You're dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions and second-guessing everything around you. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re incapable. On the contrary, it means you are better equipped to deal with things because you have others around you to support you along the way. 

Why do some people find it hard to accept help?

Asking for and accepting assistance can be hard. For some people, the problem may stem from a lack of nurturing and safety during childhood. Others are afraid to relinquish control and may fear they’d be seen as needy or incompetent. Still others might be afraid of rejection – they feel they don’t deserve help and feel unworthy to ask others for it.

But not accepting help from others can set up an emotional barrier to real connection. Others may even feel reluctant to offer help in the future if their offers continue to get rejected. Life is richer when you don’t do it alone

Is it hard for you to accept help? Instead of insisting on flying solo after your divorce, learn how to accept the help of others with graciousness and gratitude. 

Things you can say when accepting help

For many of us, asking someone how they are is a rote social question with an anticipated answer. 

“How are you?”

 “I’m fine.” 

But during and after your divorce, the people who inquire about your welfare usually do care; they’re not just asking as a social nicety. When was the last time you were honest with someone who asked how you were? There were probably many times you were anything but “fine.”

  • If someone asks how you’re doing, don’t just put on a happy face and utter the pat response. Be truthful. Depending on who is asking, let yourself be vulnerable enough to share that you’re feeling overwhelmed or lonely. 
  • When someone asks you if you need help with something, have the courage to say “yes” and to offer suggestions on how they can help you.
  • Give others the space to follow through on their offers of help. Then, let them know how much you appreciate them. Even if they can’t help, say thank you, and let them know how grateful you are for the offer.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable asking or receiving support from those who are close to you, you may be able to find what you need through in-person or online divorce support groups or paid support, such as therapy or divorce coaching

Why it’s important to accept help

It’s human nature to want to ease others’ suffering, and it plays into our need for shared connection, care, and trust. Consequently, giving and receiving help is a two-way street that benefits the receiver and the giver. 

When someone offers you help and support and you accept it, it releases a flood of endorphins in the brain, boosting happiness and feelings of connection. The giver feels useful and appreciated. You, the receiver, feel loved and cared for.

Look at it this way: If you don’t accept the help of others, you aren’t allowing them to experience the happiness, satisfaction, and joy they get from the act of giving. You’re also preventing yourself from experiencing this essential connection.

Things you can do after accepting help

After accepting help from someone, you may feel like you need to reciprocate immediately. But most people, when giving from the heart, aren’t looking for immediate payback. In fact, an immediate payback could even make them feel awkward and diminish their good intentions.

After you’ve received help from someone, do something nice for them in return when the natural opportunity presents itself. Be there for them when they need support. If you feel like you need to do something immediately in exchange for the help that was extended to you, pay it forward to someone else who will benefit from your unconditional act of kindness.

What goes around comes around. Be an active participant in that cycle. 

Being independent can allow you to feel strong and capable after your divorce. But this is a  confusing and oft-lonely time. Let the people who care about you in, and accept their help. Get support from others who are going through similar situations so you don’t feel quite so alone. And when you need professional assistance, don’t be afraid to reach out to people with the skills and knowledge to help you move forward. 

At Hello Divorce, we know it takes a village. That’s why we offer many professional services in addition to our divorce plans. Have questions? Schedule a free 15-minute phone call to understand how we can help. 

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.