Have you ever held yourself back from asking for what you actually want and long for?
I notice this in myself sometimes, a reluctance to ask for something – especially if I really want it.
Sometimes it’s because I am afraid of how I will feel if someone says no – almost as if disappointment is intolerable for me, or as if I will take the no as a personal rejection and then feel shame. Sometimes I am just reluctant to feel the vulnerability that comes along with being honest and transparent about my wishes and longings in some relationships.
However, knowing what would make life more wonderful for us, and then asking for those things in specific, concrete ways, is actually a deep gift to other people. It relieves them of the burden of mind-reading and guessing, and increases the likelihood that I will get things that are aligned with my own delight and well-being.
What might help us feel freer and less afraid of asking for what we want? Here are four things that I have found super supportive when it comes to letting ourselves ask for what our hearts desire:
1. Our ability to not take others’ reactions, feelings or responses personally. If someone says no to us, it doesn’t mean we are being rejected. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t important or valued, or that we don’t matter. It’s simply an invitation to care for what they may be needing and wanting, too.
2. Our willingness to empathize with their pain and reactivity – especially if they get triggered by what we’re asking for. They may hear our requests as a criticism or a judgment. They may feel angry, indignant, wary, or guarded. Remember, other people’s reactions to us tells us as much about what has happened to them in the past as it does about the present moment interaction and leaning in with empathy and curiosity carries the conversation further. Other people’s reactions to us are not a report card on our value or goodness or worthiness.
3. Our willingness to drop any entitlement we may feel to having our request met by this person, in this way. When we release our attachments to outcomes and prepare ourselves for multiple options, we detox the demand energy out of the relational sphere, creating more freedom and choice for both people.
4. Our ability to honor our own limits. When we track our internal states well, and attune well to ourselves, we can choose when to make ourselves vulnerable, and when to give ourselves space. When I trust myself to disengage when I am getting activated, as an act of care for both people, I bring more safety into relationships. Once I start losing my capacity to stay and be kind, honest and choiceful, I trust myself to excuse myself before I fall into old patterns that play out compliance and defiance dynamics.
What a quick summary?
- Don’t take it personally.
- Empathize with their response, no matter what.
- Release your attachment to an outcome.
- Disengage when you start to become triggered yourself.
Are you interested in watching this come to life?
Here are a few YouTube videos where I talk about responding and reacting to others.
Our ability to respond to the intense emotions of others often correlates with the degree to which we’ve done our own growth. Watch here for some helpful hints on how to continue your own healing.
Looking for some tips and tricks concerning asking for what you want, even in the face of others’ intense emotions? Watch here for a mini-course on requests vs. demands.
What prevents you from asking for what you want? I’d love to know. Leave a comment below!