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I Will Ask For What I Need

Before I get into this week's mantra and blog post I want to say that I don't have this all figured out - I am practicing, not practiced.

Asking for what you need can feel very complicated, loaded, and can be tricky to sort out. This may be due to the fact that most of us have been taught from a very early age that our needs are not important, are insignificant, wrong, too much, etc. This may or may not have been something you heard but for most of us, it was communicated in 1,000's of little and big ways and we got the message loud and clear.

Often the difficulty is that we have been taught over time not to ask for what we need: that asking for what we need is selfish, and we should always put the needs of others before our own (in Christianity it is called dying to self). Whatever it is that has brought us to this place it is learned behavior.

For most of us, this means that we had to learn another way to get our needs met any way we could (children are clever and adaptive and will find a way to survive). These learned behaviors probably aren't the healthiest ways to get those needs met - maybe we are vague, manipulative, coercive, secretive, maybe we straight-up lie, just trying to get our needs met.

This means we have had to live contrary to truth and honesty to get what we need again confirming what we've been taught that it's wrong to have needs (don't be needy). This is living in a way that is actively against our true selves. It means we have to hide our real needs to get what we need. It communicates in some shape or form that needs are wrong. That needs are a weakness. That we shouldn't have needs. That we aren't worth getting our needs met.

How do you get past this?

  • I think it starts by acknowledging that you were given something that doesn't work (possibly unintentional by people that were also given shitty ways of being). Grieving the loss and getting angry for all the ways you have denied yourself- feeling those feelings.

  • Admit to yourself that EVERYONE has needs and work to accept that it is a normal human characteristic.

  • Practice noticing when you have a need and what your reaction is to that need- Do you immediately go into action, do you feel sad, angry, despondent, resentful, want to make others pay, stuff it down, smile it away? Where does that show up in your body? Practice just paying attention - breathing deeply and noticing where it resides.

  • Now see if there is a pattern- how do you typically get your needs met? Are you vague, manipulative, coercive, secretive, crafty, etc? Notice your pattern. You can't change something you don't see. You can't say sorry for something that you are unaware of and also you can't use that as an excuse for not doing the work.

  • Take tiny steps with the safest people you know - to be as clear as you can. Practice, practice, practice. If you need something ask for it clearly and kindly.

Instead of saying you never have any time for me try: I love hanging out with you can we get coffee soon? How does next week look for you?

Instead of doing this after a hard day, coming home and stomping around so everyone walks on eggshells try: I had a shitty day at work if now is a good time could I get a hug? I had a terrible day at school would you mind if I checked out for a bit so I can process it? I will reengage in 30 minutes.

Instead of pretending all is good when it's not try: I'm having a difficult time right now do you have time to talk? Or I'm having a hard time at the moment do you have time to listen and let me vent? I don't need help fixing it I just need to get it out.

Practicing with safe people or people that are neutral (people that aren't family, friends, or loaded for us) can help you build that muscle of saying what you need. Remember that you didn't get here overnight so you won't get out of it overnight either.

Another important thing to remember is that even if you are clear and kind in your ask you still may not get what you need. There could be many reasons for this. Maybe the person can't, won't, it's more than they're comfortable with or is fair to ask. This doesn't make your need wrong or bad but you may have to reframe the ask, find another person/s who can meet it, meet the person halfway, or meet your own need/s as best you can.

There is no better time to start practicing than now. Why? During the holidays there seems to be constant pressure to conform to the will of those in our circles that make the biggest stink when they don't get their way, they manipulate us, guilt us, coerce us, lie to us, all to get what they want (around the holiday's peoples guards are down and their magical thinking is up). This is a prime example of people not being clear about their wants and needs and using any means necessary to get what they want.

You are worth self-honesty, having human needs, and not being manipulated or giving into manipulation every day and during the holidays.

Remember who you are,


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