Caregivers, like many of us, have grown up in this culture that says asking for help is a weakness. Some of us have grown up in chaotic environments where we never learned to trust enough to ever depend on anyone else. If you identify with eiter of these, you may be a Self-Sufficient.

That’s what I title the individual who suffers from Self-Sufficiency Syndrome, takes on too much, is overly responsible, and does everything all by herself. It's the subject matter of my book Help Is Not a Four-Letter Word: Why Doing It All Is Doing You In, published by McGraw Hill.

Enter the greatest challenge thus far – giving care to someone in our lives we’re very close to and now need us in a whole new way. All of our Self-Sufficient characteristics kick in:

1. Asking for help makes us look weak and vulnerable
2. We look like we’re not up to the task
3. We feel guilty
4. We’d be putting our responsibility on someone else
5. Looking strong and able is the ultimate goal no matter

Remember that old saying: when the student is ready, the teacher will come? Maybe this challenge is just the one that will force you to grow in a whole new way. We are social animals. We were never meant to do it alone. And certainly not when caring for someone else as well!

Then how can we break this self-defeating behavior at a time that calls for all the strength and fortitude we possess? One of my very favorite quotes is by Ambrose Redmon, “Courage is not the absence of fear- it’s deciding something is more important than the fear.”

So what’s our fear? Many of them are contained in that 5 item list I’ve already given – that you won’t measure up. What’s more important than those fears? That your loved one receives the best possible care and you emerge from this experience intact. Without help, you won’t!

How do you break years of habitual behaviors? You don’t. You follow William James, the great philosopher’s advice and “act as if” you believe that you should ask for help and James says one morning you’ll wake up and believe it.

1.Realize that when you ask for help, you’re giving someone else a gift-the dignity of helping YOU! Those around you don’t want to watch you struggle alone. Give them a gift!
2.One of the key problems for the Self-Sufficient is giving up control. It’s scary. A way to maintain a modicum of control is to let others know exactly what they can do to help. It’ll create a win/win and let you still maintain some control.
3.That hole in your tongue from not saying, “no thanks” will heal much more quickly than the burnout you’ll experience if you do.
4.Keep your eye on the fact that the person you’re caring for will receive a higher quality of care because you come to your responsibility having had an opportunity to get away occasionally or have support and assistance when you need it.
5.Wouldn’t it be miraculous if this experience supplied you with the knowledge and tools to grow as a person, so that you come through it more self-developed, feeling more loved, more cherished than you ever have before? There’s that opportunity. You just have to be the one to open the door.

Author's Bio: 

Peggy Collins is the author of Help Is Not a Four-Letter Word: Why Doing It All Is Doing You In, published by McGraw Hill. She’s also a professional speaker and trainer and you can contact her at