Whether you're afraid someone will laugh at you for being incompetent, or you can't admit to yourself that you don't have it all handled, asking for help can be hard.

It can be embarrassing too--especially if you feel like everyone else is keeping up and you're the only one falling behind.

Whether you're embarrassed to talk to your doctor about your depression, or you're scared to tell your boss you don't understand a project, the longer you put off asking for help the worse your problem may become.

Here are five things to remember the next time you're embarrassed to ask for help:

1. Admitting you need help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

It's easy to tell yourself things like I should be able to handle this by myself or I'm an idiot for falling so far behind. But those types of messages won't do you any good. In fact, they'll just slow you down, distract you and impair your performance even more.

Acknowledging your shortcomings--rather than masking them--is a sign of strength, not weakness. After all, you can't change what you don't acknowledge.

2. Getting help can save you a lot of time and aggravation.

In order to spare your pride, it can be tempting to try to go it alone. But, your refusal to ask for help can lead to a lot of unnecessary aggravation. Not to mention, you may waste a lot of time trying to do things on your own.

In some cases, early intervention is best. It's a lot easier to get help for depression when you first see warning signs, rather than five years down the road. Or, it's easier to fix a problem that you've only screwed up a little, rather than trying to fix it after you've caused some serious damage.

3. Seeking assistance gives others an opportunity to serve you.

Some people fear that asking for help will bother someone else. So rather than ask a neighbor to help move a heavy piece of furniture or ask a friend to provide a little emotional support, they suffer in silence for they fear they may be judged.

But studies show asking someone for a favor is more likely to cause the person to you like you more. Ben Franklin is said to have purposely asked people for favors just to win their affection. And researchers have confirmed asking for help could make you more likable.

4. You aren't the only one struggling.

If you are feeling overwhelmed at the office or you're completely lost in your college class, it's easy to convince yourself you're the only one having a hard time.

But there's a good chance if you're struggling, someone else is too. They might not be brave enough to admit it. If you find the courage to speak up first, someone else may feel more comfortable stepping forward and admitting their struggle.

5. Asking for help can make you more comfortable in your own skin.

Refusing to ask for help is a short-term solution that leads to longer-term problems. While it may spare you a minute of embarrassment, avoiding assistance can lead to much more embarrassment down the road.

Asking for help is a great experiment. It'll help you challenge negative assumptions about yourself and show you how others react to your requests. And the more often you do it, the more confident you'll become in your ability to handle a little bit of embarrassment or discomfort.

Published on: May 3, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.