Why do Some People Not Want to Accept Help?

Why do Some People Not Want to Accept Help?
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Every now and then, we have all met or stumbled across one of those people who are difficult to lend a hand to. The type of person who doesn’t want to receive any help. These people commonly correspond to one of two types. Either they are the kind of person who is willing to help everyone but has difficulties accepting aid themselves. Or they are the kind of person who doesn’t accept help from anyone even if they have a serious problem.

In either case, the situation is very frustrating for the people around them. When we come across people like this its’s hard to understand why they won’t accept help, even when they need it. The issue sometimes becomes irritating and could be interpreted as negligence or unwillingness to solve problems.

“The greatest spectacle is a man striving to fight adversity; but there is another greater one: to see another man throw him some help.”
-Oliver Goldsmith-

The truth is it almost never works like that. The reasons why some people reject any help are part of an underlying problem. Although they are suffering and need others to help them, they have a hard time leaning on someone else. This may be because of some unconscious mental block. Or it could simply be because they have difficulty recognizing that they need to change.

People who help everyone, but won’t accept any help

It’s relatively common for people who help everyone to have problems asking for or accepting help from others. These people have created an identity in which it’s valid to give, but not to receive. They believe that their role is to respond when faced with other people’s needs. At the same time, they manage their necessities by themselves or even ignore them.

In one way or another, they don’t allow others to help them. And this may be because they think that by doing so they would be betraying their “mission” in life. They also think it would be incoherent with the image and the person they want to become. This image is that of a totally independent individual. In the same sense, they may also feel that accepting the help of others would be an inconvenience for them. In other words, it would generate a problem for them. And all of this causes them to feel shame.

There is also the case of those who don’t allow others to help them because they assume that enjoying this help will generate a debt which the other person can collect when and however they want. They don’t understand that for others helping can give satisfaction. It doesn’t generate any type of obligation. That is why sometimes it’s necessary to explain this with affection and make them understand.

A girl is sitting in a chair being touched by an angel.

Needing help, but not accepting it

The other case is that of people who don’t allow others to help them, even though they are going through very difficult situations. It’s easy to notice that they need others, but if someone tries to lend them a hand with their problem this person is rejected. The most typical example of this is someone who suffers from an addiction. The common thing is for them to refuse, sometimes even angrily, to accept someone else giving them a hand to get out of the situation they find themselves in.

In those cases, it’s common for those people to not even admit they have a problem. Thus, much less will they let us help. Part of their problem is precisely the denial of the issue. It happens with addicts, but also with people who are submerged in depression, anxiety, or any other disorder and are not aware or have a distorted view of it.

A portrait of a sad guy.

Oddly enough, in these cases, the symptom itself is an adaptive response that the person has created in order to cope with their life. It is “adaptive” in the sense that it allows them to interpret reality in a way that makes it possible to move forward. For example, someone who is depressed constructs the fantasy that they are sad because they’re more sensitive than other people and not as a result of illness. That fantasy allows them to explain their life and continue with it, even if it costs them a lot of suffering.

What to do with people who don’t allow others to help them

In the first case, for those who help everyone, but don’t accept help from anyone, it’s advisable to clarify the situation. Let them see, with affection, that the desire to assist them is born from genuine appreciation. And that to be able to give them a hand is a source of satisfaction for you, not a sacrifice or a great effort.

In the second case, people don’t accept help even when they need it. Here, the situation is a little more complex. What is required in this case is to be patient and tactful. Be there for them, show interest in that person, and try to accept them as they are.

This is an excellent key for these people to open their doors and let you participate. The most important thing is to not give in to the temptation of putting pressure on them to change. Sometimes the concern you might have for them can take on this form. Thus, your intervention, loaded with all the best intentions in the world, ends up hurting them.

A girl is almost underwater and surrounded by leaves.

We must respect each individual’s pace and rhythm. Most of the time, they need time to understand that they need help. In the most severe cases, the advisable thing to do would be to consult with a professional. They will explain how you can help and how to do it in an efficient way.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.