For many of us, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years of our lives. We've finally reached the end of December, and we’re increasingly anxious to move into the new year.
Covid fatigue is in full flow, and the burden of trying to work from home and supervise students weighs heavily on us. All the while we wonder if we're being safe enough, and when we can next see our friends and family.
As we look to 2021, some of us are making New Year's resolutions. But as we continue to struggle through life’s unpredictable realities, perhaps we need to focus on a level of self-care that goes beyond hot baths and favourite drinks (though these are good, too!).
Let’s be courageous, find the time to reach out for the help we need, and connect with Allah at the same time. American television host “Mister Rogers” (or Fred Rogers), spoke these famous words of wisdom:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world."
Recognizing When you Need Help and Reaching Out
In this life, we all run into disasters - or even just a stumbling block or two. Some problems cause deep trauma, taking years or decades to recover from. Others are more practical, and simply require some objectivity and a plan.
We often think that to be successful in work, parenthood, or life in general we have to have it all together, know the answers and solve our own problems. But this could not be further from the truth. In fact, the most successful people have sometimes faced the largest, most complex problems - and they did the best thing possible. They asked for help, and they accepted the support.
5 Tips for Asking for Help
- Decide if this problem requires an extra set of ears, hands, heart or brains to help you fix it or manage it.
- Think about exactly what is required to help you. Is it money, advice, empathy, therapy, extra prayers or an opportunity? Be specific when you ask for the help you need.
- Consider who is the right person - or persons - to ask. Some people are not able or willing to help, and that’s OK. Do you need a professional or a friend? Sometimes the type of problem you have may require more than one person to help you.
- Get over yourself. Your ego could be what's stopping you from asking for the support you need. Asking for help does not mean you are weak. In fact, like forgiveness, asking for help is humbling and shows strength of character.
- Don’t forget to pray. Tangible help for life’s problems may have you turning to family, friends and professionals, but Allah is the best helper and you can always turn to him at the same time.
Giving others blessings
Often, the worry that we are burdening someone else with our problems is what stops us from asking for the help we need. However, one of the beautiful things about Islam is that our intention counts just as much - if not more - than our actions.
By asking for help, you are actually providing an opportunity for someone else to gain blessings by helping you. Asking for help can therefore be seen as a generous gift, rather than a perceived burden.
I've Asked for Help - Now What?
So, you've asked for help but the person you approached is either unwilling or unable to help you. When this happens, it can feel extremely demoralizing.
I recall a situation where a young mother was dealing with a husband who was depressed. He had not spoken to her in over a year, and she felt abandoned and alone caring for her two young children alone. In desperation, she turned to his family and asked for their help. His sister responded that they "don't get involved in family problems", and refused to talk to him on her behalf.
At first, the young mother was upset and shocked. However, it then occurred to her that she might be asking the wrong people to solve her problems. She went looking for professional help, which proved to be a much more effective approach for her situation.
The moral of the tale is to never give up. Stay calm, and if your first attempt is not well received, then try again.
Offering your Help to Others
Asking for help also reminds us that we are sometimes around co-workers, friends, family or even strangers who need our help, and who may be afraid to ask.
Think about all the little ways that you can help someone, and seek out those blessings. Keep your intentions pure by making dua and asking Allah to accept your good deeds. We all need each other to be healthy and happy, so look for the helpers, ask for help and become a helper yourself.
As we reflect on 2020, remember the people who helped others, and the wonderful moments that defined the year along with the struggles. Let’s look to 2021 with hope and a renewed spirit - and don’t forget to reach out and seek the help you need.
Where to look for help - www.naseeha.org
Naseeha is a partner organization to www.themuslimmoon.com. This organization has been offering support for many years, and has recently expanded their services. A bridge for individuals who are going through life’s challenges, the team at Naseeha are literally just a call or a text away.
“7 days a week we answer calls from around the world from Muslim and non-muslims. Naseeha Mental Health has been a great bridge for individuals who are going through life’s challenges. Where hope is lost, Naseeha is found. We provide a safe zone for youths and individuals to talk and get the help they need. We provide workshops to youth across North America, web therapy sessions, and offer texting mental health support 5 days a week.”