About ten years ago, I discovered that what stopped me in life was that I could not ask for what I wanted. It stemmed from being a child and being told that if I asked for items, I was not going to get them. This taught me that the objects I wanted didn’t matter, or that I needed to manipulate people to get them. I found that if I hinted at what I wanted, sometimes I could get them. As an adult, I surrounded myself with people whom I rarely needed to ask for anything. All I had to do was hint about what I wanted or tell people my problems, and they would offer to help.
This way of manipulating people only got me so far in my life. Not everyone, especially my students, coworkers or my extended family understood my wants from my hints. I found out that my problem is not unique. Many of us as children were not allowed to ask for what we wanted.
We seem to be afraid of that terrifying word, “No.” We equate the word “No” with many negative beliefs like they don’t love us, they don’t respect us, or we are imposing on them. I’ve heard the saying, “It never hurts to ask,” although, for many of us, it is agonizing to ask. The more attached we are to what we want, the harder it is to ask. A proposal for marriage can be one of the scariest questions a person can ask someone.
We go through life expecting others to be psychic and know what we want and need. I shouldn’t have to tell him that I want an apology; he should know what he did and apologize for it. We withdraw and withhold our love waiting for that person to know what we want and in reality; they have no clue why we are withdrawing. We then move on to that next person, who we feel profoundly understands our wants and needs. We may find that for a little while because people at the beginning of relationships are trying to be impressive, and will do many different kinds of actions to impress a new partner. They will eventually fall over the answer. They have no clue what the other person wants or needs. No one has the stamina to keep this up for very long, and it begins to look like they no longer care. Instead of moving from relationship to relationship, you might as well start asking for what you need and want in your current relationship.
So how do you do this?
- Be clear what you want before the conversation.
- Be clear why you have this want so that you can explain it.
- Expect a positive outcome and have the confidence that the person you are talking to is concerned about you getting your needs met as well.
- Find a time and place that is good for the both of you so that you can explore the topic.
- Ask for what you want in a clear, Asking for what you want.
- Listen carefully to their response and be willing to negotiate. They might have something they want in the process.
- Look for ways that both of you can get what you want.
Challenge if you wish to take it: Be in action and go out and ask for something every day for a week. Look at how you are asking. Where you are expressed with asking, and where are you stopped?