Innocent enough, and yet, when you are going through "something" in life, it is a question that brings dread. At least to me, and I am sure to others. I do not like to ask for help. I think we are trained to be self sufficient and we feel if we ask for help, we will be looked on as "moochers" or "weak". For me, it is that I don't think of myself as worthy of anyone else's time. However, the fact is, there have been MANY times when a generic offer for "help" was made to me when I should have accepted. But then, WHAT do you ask for? What exactly is being offered? If I ask for help with dinner, will that person be offended because they only meant that the would do something like pick up some bread and milk if we need it? Or what if I tell them I need the floor vacuumed, and they meant they would take the kids to the park for a while? You see, one of the barriers to accepting "help" is not the pride issue so much as it is the fear of offending and asking for too much or for the wrong thing.
Then there is a total other issue: the generic offers for help that are empty. You know what I am talking about, the person that offers help that has no intention of doing so if you call them on it. They are the ones that offer for the sake of saying the right thing, not doing the right thing.
Now, I have been on the accepting side of offers, and I have been the one to offer. I am JUST AS GUILTY for placing a generic offer of help to others as the offers made to me. I will confess, I have even offered help before PRAYING that I wasn't asked to follow through. I am not proud of that fact, but I am just being honest.
I was reading on one of the boards I post on, and someone asked a question about how to help the family of a friend who faced hospitalization, and she received the single best piece of advice I have ever heard. Basically, when you offer "help" to someone, be specific...and a little forceful (but not too much). For example: "I would like to organize a schedule to provide meals for your family" or "I can come every Thursday to do housework that needs to be done, would that help?". Be exact, and check in. If you can only pick up stuff from the grocery store, TELL THEM that. If you can take their kids for a few hours, call them and say "Hey, could I take (insert names here) for a little while"? Most people do not want to accept help, even thought they really WANT to (Read that again and let it sink in!). If you really want to help, you need to step over that barrier.
I know I need to do better at this, and wanted to throw it out there for others. :)