Do you want to know what I think is one of the biggest routes to happiness?
Asking for what I want. Each time I want something, asking for it. When I worry the other person doesn’t want the same thing as me, still asking for it. When I judge that I’m asking for “too much” or asking “too often,” still asking for it. Asking even when I judge myself as needy. Asking even when I make myself embarrassed.
Asking for what I want can be scary. In response, I might get a “No.” Quite often, though, receiving a “No” isn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared. When I hear “No,” I’m confident that I will get over any disappointment. I might even express my anger or frustration about the “No.” And many times—at least after a while—I’ll appreciate the other person for them having said “No.” I trust that they are being themselves with me and aren’t just saying things to please me. Saying “No” can be a big deal; it can be about listening to oneself.
In my current relationship with Pete, I have learned to verbalize many things. I tell him when I get angry, sad, excited, horny, scared, embarrassed, etc. I notice my sensations and feelings and stay with them and allow them to be there even when I suspect I’m being unreasonable.
This week, I asked Pete to touch me more often in the mornings, especially my feet and my arms. And I made doing that difficult for myself. I judged that I shouldn’t have asked for more as I regard him to be a very considerate and loving partner who already touches me a lot. Afterwards, though, I felt very good for having asked for what I wanted.
When was the last time you asked for what you wanted even though you judged the request to be unreasonable or scary? Do you remember how the other person responded or how you felt?
When I teach in workshops, I tell that one of the most valuable things I’ve gotten from Radical Honesty is learning to ask for what I want. And I also say in workshops (as well as to my friends and family) that the best way to get what you want is to ask for it. Such a simple action and yet too often we don’t allow ourselves to do it. We might think the loved ones should know what we want. They aren’t mind readers, nor are you. Do yourself a huge favor: ask for what you want and invite people around you to do the same. I love the clarity that this brings about. No more guessing.
If you find asking for what you want to be scary, you can try this exercise:
“I ask for everything I want” day
On this day, verbalise everything you want. Be specific in your language and use statements and requests. Start with a statement: “I would like to___ / I want to___.” Follow this with a request: “Are you willing to do that with me? / Will you do that with me?” Making a request is different than making a demand. When you make a request, you ask a “yes/no” question, which allows the other person to answer “yes” or “no.” Pay attention to the sensations in your body while making your request and receiving the answer. If you notice that you are nervous/scared/embarrassed/etc. about making your request, state that to the other person first. If you find this hard to do during a day when you have work / study commitments, try exploring a “should-free day.” I find that Sundays work well.