Rule Two: Ask for what you need.
While I received some resistance to each of the 5 Rules For Holidays That Don’t Suck, the second one seems to have cultivated the most emotional response. You would have thought I asked them to grow sky scrapers in their wombs. The emails suggested that failure was that inevitable, that it was better to just keep our needs to ourselves. One woman described the profound sense of invisibility, that her requests for support fall on deaf ears, a trend that I see again and again in the women in my community.
Naturally, I’ve been there myself, which is the only reason I recognize any of this in others. And I’ve learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter whether it comes from habit or tradition or codependency. What matters is that we learn to break the cycle. Our success depends on our willingness to tend the gardens of our own lives.
If you’re out of the habit of asking for what you need, here are some assists to ease you back into it:
1. Recognize Your Needs – It is impossible to ask for what you need if you don’t recognize that you have one. When life is spinning all around you, it helps to pause and breathe your way back into clarity. Ask yourself–silently, aloud, or in writing–what need or needs are unmet at this moment. You may be able to recognize fear or loneliness or grief on the surface but stay with it long enough to see what you need. It might be that you need to release the emotions that are overwhelming you. Perhaps you’re hungry. Perhaps your need for companionship is unmet.
2. Accept Your Needs – Asking for what you need is much easier if you believe that your needs are valid. What makes your need valid? You do. If you decide that it’s okay to need to eat three balanced, healthy meals and a snack each day, then it is so. If you believe that it is okay for you to make more money… well, then it is going to be okay. If you believe in your heart of hearts that your need to live in a safe and secure environment with a partner who treats you with love and respect… Well, you can see where I am headed here, right?
3. Practice Asking – Sometimes I have to practice asking for what I need. I will write it in my journal. Then, I whisper it to myself. Then, when I’m feeling really bold, I say it to myself in the mirror. When I can do that without looking away, I know I’m ready to take it to the world. (Ironically, that’s the same pattern I use when I’m releasing self-loathing thoughts and replacing them with loving ones. When you can look yourself square in the eye and say, “I love you,” or “You are beautiful,” you are ready to roll.)