Why does asking for what you want seem so scary? Everyone is different and we all want different things…so why asking for what you want hard for some people and easy for others?
I am going to share some examples from my life of how I asked for what I wanted and got it…and more!
Interested? Keep reading.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life.
You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.
We All Want…Something
A few years ago at my job, I jokingly asked someone to do something.
Actually, it was my boss.
She came to our department to tell us that there was an event going on and we could head over there to get some cake if we wanted. I jokingly asked why she came to our department without cake…as in why not save us a trip? lol.
And to be honest, it was a surprise that it did not go down that way, so we could keep working instead of leaving our department and leisurely making our way back whenever…
She disappeared and reappeared a few minutes later with a tray full of pieces of cake on plates…with forks. My work buddy looked at me and asked me “how did you do that??”
And here we are at this article to find out.
Why would someone have trouble asking for what they want?
What makes it so hard to get what you really need? I mean, everybody wants something and it is quite normal. In fact, all through our school years we are encouraged to ask for help.
That process in and of itself should have trained everyone to ask for what they want successfully. And yet some people live in fear of doing just that.
There are a lot of reasons why someone might struggle to ask for what they want.
Sometimes they simply don’t have the skills. Other times they don’t know what they want for certain, and other times they haven’t been successful asking – so they stop trying.
Asking for a glass of water doesn’t take much effort but there are asks that can feel enormous. Asks like:
- Getting better rates from the telephone company
- Going after a raise at work
- Asking someone out on a date
- Requesting extra help or support for a controversial decision
Some asks seem really big and it can feel uncomfortable putting yourself out there for a possible rejection (liking asking someone on a date). That’s normal. There is risk in asking, but there is also equal potential for support.
One thing is for certain – if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
Get past your fear and ask for what you want
I grew up with siblings who are all two years apart in age. We always asked for lots of stuff and were told “no” more often than not. Kids right?
I was conditioned from an early age to not ask.
That fear of rejection followed me my whole life until I got to the point where I had my “valley of darkness” period. Basically a mental breakdown that forced me to take a good hard look at what I really wanted in life.
During that period, my self-esteem was low. I wanted to quit my job, but had no idea what to do about it or the whole “what next” thing.
I think I was subconsciously trying to sabotaging myself, with the idea that I will figure it out when it happens.
Hence, asking my boss to fetch cake for us. I still chuckle thinking about how I pulled that off.
At the same time I wondered myself how I did that. I was not afraid, like I would be speaking up at a meeting. I felt like I was the boss…the one in charge. Hmmm.
The fear comes from conditioning and experiences.
Sometimes people are conditioned not to ask for what they want from a very early age. Parents who didn’t offer choices or diminished personal preferences may have contributed to the fear of asking.
As well, elementary school teachers squash a lot of asks that come from children with big imaginations and hopeful attitudes. I saw a lot of that when I helped out at my daughters school on pizza day.
If you’ve experienced ridicule or rejection for past asks, it can feel risky to put yourself out there.
That’s normal. It takes time and practice… and some wins… to feel competent and confident asking for what you want.
The key is setting your fears aside and going ahead and asking for what you want.
I tried to train my child for this because the fear of asking can be crippling, and I speak from experience.
The rule at our house is:
“Sometimes the answer is yes and other times it will be no, but you should always ask. You might get more than you hope for”.
Everybody wants something.
Asking for it makes the likelihood you’ll get it much higher but failing to ask is a guarantee it won’t.
Stop feeling guilty or unworthy of the things that matter to you.
What you want is important and you have the right and the responsibility to stand up and ask for what you want with confidence.
4 Tips for Breaking the Fear and Asking for What You Want
Every day people ask for what they want. If you request an extra flavor shot in your morning java, and you are paying for it, the ask is usually without fear.
You are confident in your ask because it is low-risk, which equals low-fear.
What happens when the ask feels fearful?
Some asks push the boundaries of our comfort zone. They trigger fear and worry.
Bigger asks that come with the risk of rejection tend to stop people short which means the answer is automatically… no!
You surely won’t get what you never ask for.
Breaking the fear and asking for what you want is the most important step to getting it. I try to think like those trial lawyers you see on TV and in movies. They do research and look for reasons why someone would reject their argument so that they can counter it.
Lesson? Think like a lawyer!
1. Get clear on what you want
Being certain of what you want is important. The clearer you are about what you want, the more confident you are asking for it.
Being wishy-washy or ambivalent can cause confusion about what you want and makes it harder to boldly ask.
This is a skill that you can get better at as you practice. Do not worry about rejection…just start asking for what you think you want and then clarify to yourself if this is actually what you want.
2. Visualize what you want
Seeing is believing and a lot of fear comes from things like imposter syndrome or a lack mindset.
Visualizing what you want and imagining having it makes the idea firm in your mind and will reduce the fear of asking because you can already imagine having it.
Try fantasizing that you have what you want and decide if it is right.
Suppose you are imagining your dream kitchen…with brushed metal fixtures. Go online to see if what you think in your head matches what you see in YouTube or sales videos.
You may have heard of brushed metal or seen it on a home reno show, but if you go to Home Depot to look at the choices, you may decide that no, brushed metal is not what you really want.
This is helpful because you are learning more about what you really want.
3. Embrace rejection
Rejection feels very personal, but many times it isn’t. There are a lot of reasons why someone might say no that have nothing to do with you at all.
Get comfortable with not being able to get exactly what you want. Use the feedback of rejection to figure out how to ask better next time.
Learning from feedback is valuable and helps you create thinking that leads to acceptance from others later on.
Often there is an alternative or a second option that you may not have considered.
Or perhaps now is not the right time for your ask. Make a note to yourself to ask again.
4. Do it afraid
My favorite “fear” quote, and I have put this in several blog posts already, comes from the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. Thor is in a cave trying to figure stuff out. He must face a fear as well, and at one point he says:
“The thing I fear contains the thing I need”
This is powerful, for a movie. It means that you must go through your fear to get what you want. Not that extra shot of Dulce de leche in your coffee.
What you get is courage and information that you can use later.
Which is why I wanted my child to practice asking at an early age.
I try to encourage her to push through fears, like asking for a raise at her part-time job, so that she can use the experience for bigger asks later. At bigger and better jobs.
And I want her to know that she will be okay no matter the answer.
Most often the worry of rejection is far greater than actually taking a chance and seeing what happens.
You can ask for what you want, even if you feel fear. One way or the other, you’ll discover you can handle making an ask, even if the answer is no.
Being afraid to ask for what you want can feel intimidating and fearful. For the most part, no one is immune to some sort of fear making a big ask.
He Who Hesitates…
One of the biggest barriers to asking for what you want is literally not knowing what you want for certain. It’s nearly impossible to confidently make a big ask if you aren’t sure what you want to ask for.
Confusion, second-guessing, and insecurity keep you from asking.
Doublemindedness, or being indecisive, is like being caught in two or more realities where there are too many options. The mind overthinks and overworks simple ideas and concepts and makes what should have been an easy decision complex.
Once the mind has gone into overdrive, it’s hard to pull back and make simple decisions.
The solution for this is to decide what you really want.
Seems simple, but most people have no idea why they want things…they just know that they do.
This is why New Years resolutions fail more often than not; because people don’t know the bottom line of why they want to lose weight, or quit smoking, or get in shape or whatever.
Once you, for example, write a list of 10 reasons why you want to lose weight it becomes easier to stay on the path. If you are ambivalent about changing your life, you will fail because there is not enough motivation to succeed.
4 Tips For Before You Ask
1. Recognize the habit of overthinking
Worry, ruminating, analyzing, and forecasting are all examples of overthinking.
Overthinking triggers fear which can cause analysis paralysis, making it very hard to know exactly what you want.
Recognize the habit if you tend to overthink and stop yourself early before you fall victim to the downward spiral.
2. Use the utilitarian approach
Sometimes there’s more than one option and both seem good. That can make choosing one over the other harder and leave you confused on which choice to make.
Use a utilitarian approach to weigh the pros and cons of each choice and choose the one that has the most pros.
Make a decision and leave it at that, accepting the results. You can always try the second option another time or in another way.
3. Get wise counsel
Being fickle can keep you spinning.
If you find that you can’t stop the spiral, it’s a great time to seek a trusted friend, colleague, or professional to help you sort things out and zero in on a final choice.
And perhaps just talking it out with someone will help you gain some clarity.
4. Practice being decisive
Being unresolved in your thinking can cause confusion and fear, it may cause you to stop asking for what you want all together.
That’s a habit that’s hard to break.
Practice asking for what you want and being decisive to create a new and better habit.
Go with your gut and practice making decisions and asking for what you want without overthinking.
When my child was younger, I wanted her to practice making easy decisions to get used to it.
On payday Friday, we would go out to eat. With young kids, that is usually fast food because of course right?
So I would ask her where she wanted to go. For the longest time, the answer was always “I don’t know. You pick”. My answer was “if you do not decide, we go home and eat whatever is there”.
This put the decision squarely in her hands, as well as the results.
I told her that there are no wrong decisions here; if you want chicken nuggets, just say so. It took a while, but she got the hang of it.
So then I went through my wilderness time, and I had to start making more decisions about what I really wanted.
I started practicing just deciding and sticking with it. And I monitored the results to guesstimate how often things went bad.
I was not wrong very often.
So it sucked real bad when I found a new friend at work that I thought, seemed like a “kindred spirit”. She was, until it came time to making decisions. Sigh.
I did the same thing with her. She would always want to go for lunch, which I am always agreeable to…who doesn’t like to eat?
“You pick” she would say. My answer was always “Okay, let’s just skip it for now”. She did not like that, but I persisted (changing the world, one indecisive person at a time!).
She got the hang of it too.
Asking for What You Want with Confidence
As I mentioned earlier, it helps to think like a lawyer. If winning your case is up to you, and the win is important, it is best to do your research so that you can create a compelling argument for why someone should along with your request.
Look at these tips to find help in creating your “why”:
- Why do you want what you want? You need to understand how important winning your case is to your happiness and well-being.
- What reasons could someone reject your “ask”? Are there ways around any of them?
- Can you convince them that you getting what you want benefits them in some way?
- Are their potential concerns legitimate? If you change something about your ask, will they go for it?
- How will getting what you want enhance your life? If it is a good thing, go for it.
- If you do not get what you want today, will you ask for it another time? Maybe it is not as important as you once thought.
- Have you done your research and are you ready to defend your request?
For something big, like asking for a raise, your best bet for success is to convince your superior that they will benefit in some way.
An example is asking your boss for a raise in exchange for mentoring more new hires or taking on some of their work so they can do other things.
The trade-off should benefit both of you, but the exchange choices depend on where you work.
Confidently asking for what you want is more than simply making an ask.
You’ve got to be confident in what you are asking for, ask for it at the right time, use your non-verbal body language to sell the ask, and defend your request if necessary.
Being ready when it’s time to ask for what you want makes the process easier and the likelihood you’ll get what you ask for higher. Let’s take a look.
Know what you want
If you know what you want and the reasons why, it’s much easier to confidently ask.
Some asks don’t need an explanation while others might.
Be confident in why you want what you want so you can boldly make the ask regardless of the possible rejection. If you are clear on what you want, your mindset will be in the right space.
Timing is everything.
When you ask, under what circumstances, and what’s going on at the time can influence the outcomes.
Be considerate of the surroundings at the time of your request to make certain you are choosing the right time, location, and circumstances to ask for what you want.
Be non-verbally confident
A significant portion of communication is non-verbal.
Your words may convey one thing while your body and eyes may convey another. If you want your ask to be received with confidence, your body language needs to line up with your ask.
Look people in the eye, stand up straight, and make certain you are being confident from the inside out.
Get ready to defend your request
Asking for what you want comes with some risk. From turning around a flat-out rejection to defending your ask, you must be prepared to stand up for what you’re asking for.
Be ready with facts, reasons, or other information that supports your request so you can educate or persuade if necessary.
Asking for what you want can be intimidating. If you’re not used to advocating for what you want, it might feel unnatural and it might come with price tags like guilt and shame.
That’s no way to live!
Asking for what you want should be a natural state of being. It’s healthy to have desires, know your worth and value, and expect your voice to matter.
Another example of brave-me asking for what I want:
A number of years ago, my mobile phone company sent out a text message saying that in 10 days, they would be charging for something had previously been free.
Knowing that they were supposed to give 30 days notice, I knew that I would be on the phone for a while because everyone would be complaining.
To get to the first agent took about an hour.
She passed me off to a second agent who basically said tough luck, and she argued with me, and she was rude. I asked for her name and badge number and to be directed to her superior.
She would not give me her info, but did put me in the queue to talk to her supervisor. By the time I was connected, I was livid.
However, I did my best to remain calm.
Because agitated, aggressive people get nothing.
I argued my case (not enough notice), shared that the previous agent flat-out lied (that I had receive proper notice, which I had not), and I asked what she was going to do about it.
I ended up getting my deal and more.
They would charge me but give me an equivalent discount, which meant it was free. She also gave me some other perks and extended my contract and offered me the option to get a future better deal.
FYI: The third agent told me that they knew there would be backlash and that the previous 2 agents could have both offered me the same deals that she gave me…but didn’t.
I went home and explained the whole situation to my daughter, so that she would be encouraged to go for what she wants. Trust me, there are never enough examples for kids.
We are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with
This means who we spend time with influences us as much as we influence them.
Being someone who influences and encourages others to speak up and ask for what they want can make a huge impact on their confidence and courage to advocate for themselves.
It’s so much easier to ask for what you want in confidence when it’s normal and encouraged.
Take the lead in helping others ask for what they want by creating a culture that includes opinions, ideas, and supports other people. You can do this by:
- Asking people in your sphere of influence about their opinions and desires
- Supporting people when they ask for what they want
- Helping others overcome their fear of asking for what they want
Ask “What do you think?”
Asking someone outright what their opinions and desires are goes a long way to encourage them.
When people feel free to ask for what they want, they are less likely to be meek or avoidant.
Encourage others by making a point of asking them how they feel, what they prefer, what they think.
FYI, those people may not answer if they are not used to being asked for their opinion!
Support others in positive ways
You know how tough it can be to ask for support from others who may not agree or understand what you are asking for.
Practice being supportive and it will create a culture of giving and expecting support that you can draw from in your own experience too.
Be a mentor
Did you know that FEAR is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real?
Fear is not based in reality; it’s based in worries!
Sometimes it’s easier to overcome fear when you aren’t personally involved. You can be an important part of supporting someone who may be fearful of asking for what they want.
Help them break down their fears and barriers and be part of their cheerleading squad to encourage them when they might need a nudge.
One of the best ways to feel confident asking for what you want is encouraging others to do the same. Being supportive of others will make it commonplace to ask without fear, guilt, shame, or other barriers.
Being a cheerleader will encourage people to feel confident and know that they have someone in their corner who is behind them all the way.
Related Post: Overcome Fear and Anxiety Quickly
I hope that I have helped to encourage you to take a step out in fear and ask for what you want. If you have a lot of fears, it is best to start small and build up some “wins”. As you get better at asking for small things, you can up your game one step at a time.
There is no need to go from deciding on which cafe to eat at to asking for a raise if the latter is too scary to think about.
Work your way up to the scarier asks.
It can also help to practice asking for things from “non-threatening” people like store clerks or wait staff who are there to “serve”. Try to be positive and upbeat about the ask and you will get better results.
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!