Somewhere along the way, many of us learned that it was NOT okay to ask for what we need, much less what we desire. This might have made it especially difficult to articulate our needs or wants explicitly.
I’m guessing that, for a lot of us, we learned a difficult lesson early on: We can’t always get what we want. While true, we became really, really good students of this lesson, too good. We took it to an extreme: If I can’t get what I need/want then maybe it’s not okay to even ask.
This lesson might have been reinforced by the times when we really needed something and we actually had the courage to ask and someone had the nerve to say NO.
My point is that it is often difficult to ask for what we need, or even what would make our lives a teeny bit easier. I’m realizing as I write this that it takes a good amount of reflection and emotional intelligence to even realize how we are feeling or what exactly it is that we are needing. Sometimes it doesn’t become evident until we are exhausted, angry or crying… (Click here for more on identifying needs.)
Part of what prompted this post was my friend apologizing for “being bossy” when what she was actually doing was being explicit about what she needed. Now there are probably people in the world who would judge her for that, but I’ll give you a different perspective: It actually feels good to know exactly what would be helpful to her.
Instead of guessing and risking being wrong, assuming she needs something that she doesn’t, it is a pleasure to do something small to help a friend. The stuff we add on it– the fear of being needy, bossy, demanding— are all judgements that I’m guessing don’t serve us.
Now back to the tough part of this lesson: Sometimes folks will say no– even when we really, really think we need something from them. It is a hard lesson to accept when someone is not capable of meeting your need. It is not personal, not your fault, and certainly not because you don’t deserve it.
Part of taking responsibility for myself and my own needs involves accepting the reality that I can’t always get what I want. I can, however, make damn sure I get what I need. That might mean giving up what I imagine that looks like…
For instance, I might get snuggles, hugs and kisses from my cat instead of a lover. I might shake my butt at an aerobics class instead of at a nightclub in NYC.
I don’t know about you, but I have operated way too long under the false belief that if I didn’t get something that I didn’t deserve it. It felt really selfish to ask for it or give it to myself. As time goes on, I feel less and less selfish and see how it benefits everyone when I take good care of myself and don’t neglect my basic needs or my heartfelt desires.
Try This Challenge:
For the next week ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Even when it seems frivolous. Especially when it feels big and too much. Just ask. The practice will shift something for you, I promise.
Please let us know how it goes…