|Motu on her new bed|
Be specific. Friends say "whatever you need" when they offer help. We needed help and asked for something specific, which in our case was borrowing a car. We sold our cars prior to moving to Singapore and when we arrived in Los Angeles we had nothing to drive. According to Gretchen Rubin you can be generous by taking when someone wants to help. People offer help when they want to give and by receiving that help you allow other person to experience the pleasure of giving. Still my husband has made minor repairs while using it to show our appreciation.
Play to people's strength. My parents love my dog and they have a truck to transport her plus a yard for her to roam. So we asked my parents to take our dog Motu for a couple of weeks because we couldn't get into our apartment for a few days after our arrival and our hotel didn't allow dogs. My parents graciously drove the six hours to meet us in Los Angeles to pick up Motu and take her to their house. They kept her for two weeks, had her bathed, bought her a bed and food and wouldn't accept reimbursement. Their response to my grateful thanks was that this is what parents do. Knowing that this was something my parents could and would do made it easier to ask.
Know that asking for help is a sign of intimacy and closeness. While my dog was still at my parents I didn't want to be home for three days by myself without a car while my husband went out of town, so I stayed at our dear friends' house for two nights. They cooked me dinner, let me relax in their home, sit in their massage chair and provided all around good company for me when I needed it. They offered up their guest room for us if we were unsettled and all we had to do was take them up on it.
Sometimes asking for help is more about paying it forward that reciprocation. Though I would gladly help my friends and offer the same help if they asked, I have difficulty asking for help. It may be because I think that what I am asking is a burden and that I don't have the right to ask. My reluctance to ask for help may be because I think I won't be able to reciprocate. What if I cannot return the favor? I still owe neighbors a home-cooked meal because I haven't reciprocated those invitations.
Put your pride aside and ask for help. My independent nature is not comfortable with asking for help, so usually my husband asks and we are both the beneficiary of our friends' and family's goodwill. I am not comfortable asking until I see no other options. Like when I couldn't find a can opener the week we moved into our apartment so I walked around the halls of our building until I saw a neighbor and then asked him to use his can opener. I didn't let the fact that he was carrying a small child dissuade me from asking him. Still asking for help can be as sign of strength, not weakness because it allows others to share their gifts. Each of us has experienced the small thrill when asked for advice or to share our resources with others.