Why South Asians Can Have a Hard Time Asking for Help



This blog is part of our South Asian Perspective series.  While topics will be relatable to many ethnicities and backgrounds, as part of our commitment to diversity, we are amplifying minority perspectives.  Navneet Kaur works with clients of all backgrounds and offers special insights for South Asians, immigrant families, and firstgeneration Americans.


Asking for help when you’re South Asian is no easy feat. Perhaps because mixed messages plague the childhood of many South Asians. For example, you’re taught to be helpful to others because helping the community is important, but you’re also taught you shouldn’t ask for help because you don’t want to burden others. You’re taught that your needs always come last because the needs of the family as a whole, or members higher in the hierarchy of the family come first.


When we’re taught that our needs don’t matter, or don’t matter as much as others, we grow up not knowing how to ask for help when we truly need it. We grow up having low self-esteem, low confidence, and unable to help ourselves change this. If we do ask for help, we’re looked at as weak, incompetent, and incapable by our parents, family, and community.



There is shame in asking for help, but pride in providing it.


These opposing ideas can leave us confused, lost, and scared.



You’ve been there, I’ve been there, our South Asian brothers and sisters have all been there. Feeling like you’re stuck. Like you can’t ask for help but can’t continue with the way things are going. Like you can’t breathe because of the overpowering influence your family has on your every move.


Learning to ask for help is so important. Putting yourself first is important. YOU are important.


Starting therapy can be the first step you take to get back control of your life. You can learn how to live a life that acknowledges the shortcomings of your cultural heritage, but also celebrates the diversity and beauty it brings to your life.


It’s okay to be nervous to ask for help. It’s normal to down-play the effect your culture has had on the issues you have today. It’s okay to be scared during your first session, and not knowing what to expect or whether the therapist will understand you.


Your cultural heritage shouldn’t stop you from asking for help, nor should it stop you from putting your individual needs first. And if you need help with this, well, that’s why I’m here.

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