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Asking For Help

This is part 1 of Hack Your Brain to be a Better Developer, my talk from AdieCon 2020.

You’re so stuck on this ticket, and need to ask for help, but you’re been working on this ticket for far to long, should have asked that senior dev for help days ago.
Imagine starting to stand up to go talk to that person. How does that feel in your body? Stomach? Shoulders? For me this is a tightness in the middle of my chest.
Suddenly you realize that there’s one more thing you could try, one more thing to search the internet for, and you sit back down.
How does that feel in your body? Stomach? Shoulders?
Good, better, right?

Bad News friends. Avoiding asking for help is increasing your fear of asking for help.

Studies have shown that people with lower back injury who cope with pain, that is they tolerate some pain while recovering or doing physical therapy, recover quicker and have less long-term pain than people who avoid pain.
In medicine this is called Fear-Avoidance, in psychology it’s called Avoidance Coping.

So the question is, how do we avoid avoiding?

  1. Knowledge is Power - knowing that avoiding will make it worse is often enough to help us do what we need to do. "This is no fun, but I don’t want to see what happens if it gets worse."
  2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable - take the time to just sit with and really feel your discomfort. When you’ve sat with a feeling before it’s still uncomfortable, but now you know it won’t kill you.
  3. Lower the Barrier - acknowledge that you will avoid at some point, saying you’ll never do this again isn’t realistic. What can you do to make it easier to ask after you’ve avoided?

My trick for lowering the barrier is to write out my question, and then leave in the text box of the DM or chat room where I should be asking the question. I hit send yet though - this is where I let my self avoid. I set a timer for a short but reasonable amount of time, 5 to 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, I flip over to the DM or chat room and press send. I don't re-read what I wrote, just hit send. It’s scary, but it’s worth it, and now the question has been asked!

Top comments (2)

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel 🕵🏻‍♂️ Fayard

@lgranger technical note:
The #help tag is a tricky one on
It means Please help me, not I help you.

I recommend to use instead the tags #career #mentalhealth

lrgranger profile image

Ah! Well that makes sense. Thanks for pointing it out. I've fixed it ☺️