I figured out a very simple way to get what you want from other people. Ask.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Some people have no problem doing it at all, but others find it very difficult. So why is it so hard? Because, in order to be confident enough to ask for what you want, you have to feel worthy of it.
Why don’t you feel worthy? Because, we are socialized to believe that it is our job to make someone else happy. You have to make your parents, teachers, boss, children and spouse happy. Generally, this requires sacrifice on your part. This is a part of life. However, if you have adopted the belief that everyone’s happiness is more important than your own then you are locked into a life that won’t fulfill you. People that really love you won’t be happy if you are not happy. So, as odd is it may seem, you owe your parents, friends, children and spouse your own happiness. That doesn’t mean that you now put on a crown and declare yourself king. Everything must be in balance.
Generally, if you are afraid to ask for your needs to be met, it is because you are concerned that the person will be mad at you for asking. The fear of losing friendship or love is a powerful emotion. I’ve found that the way that most people handle requesting their needs in two ways: demand or diminish
People that demand and people that diminish are very similar. The difference is in the story that they tell themselves. Someone that is demanding tells himself that he is doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to do something for him. He believes that if you are truly his friend that you should step up to the plate and show it. He believes that his cause should be just as important to you as it is to him. He doesn’t concern himself with the details or the inconvenience to you. He doesn’t want to think about it because it’s easier for him to go into bully-mode to get his needs met. If you love him, you will give in and he will get his way which reinforces that this is effective. If you don’t do it, then he has avoided the pain of losing you and he has a reason that absolves him of any wrongdoing.
The person that diminishes doesn’t ask anyone to meet her needs. She thinks about it. She gets mad about it, but she believes that her friend’s love is tied to her ability to take care of everyone else. She tells herself that if she is not there for you that you will take your love away, so she considers her needs less important. She tells herself that she is stronger and can give herself what she needs, so it’s more important that she give to you. She mistakenly believes that if she gives enough that eventually people will want to give back. Yet, all she finds herself is surrounded by people that take and rarely give back.
Eventually, both of these ways of thinking give way to resentment. The Demander will find that his friends get tired of always meeting his needs and he can no longer depend on anyone. The Diminisher will get tired of being there for everyone else and find she has no one that she can call on in her time of need.
If you are surrounded by people that truly love you, they will not leave because you asked for what you need. They may get mad. They may not completely understand. If they truly love you, they will compromise if you ask in a way that is respectful. If you ask someone for something you need and they are not willing to bend at all, then you should not feel bad about walking away. Be aware though, that if you demand something from someone, the resistance may only be at being bullied and not at your request.
“When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet in his private heart no man much respects himself.”- Mark Twain
Your job is to know your intentions and clarify your request. I will admit that as a woman, I am often ambiguous about my needs. I make the mistake of expecting people to know how I feel and what I need. When I examined it, I realized that I was making the mistake of not asking for exactly what I wanted, because I didn’t actually know. You have to get clear on exactly what it is you need. In a most recent situation in my relationship, I was asking for my partner to do something that I already had pictured in my head. I expected him to execute it the same way despite the fact that men think completely different from women. I accused him of not wanting to meet my needs, but the reality is that I wasn’t communicating exactly what I needed. Instead, I was expecting him to be a mind reader. I challenged myself to determine five things. I used the rules of journalism: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. When I ran through these questions in my mind, I realized that I didn’t need as much as I thought I did. I was able to effectively communicate exactly what would make me happy and, at the same time, I refrained from blowing my needs out of proportion or making him the bad guy.
If you really want something from someone, be brave enough to ask for it. If you meet the needs of others, you have every right to ask for the same in return. Be clear about what you need. Be respectful of your differences. And always, be appreciative.