No: Asking For What You Need, Part Two
“I think that step one should be to check if your “needs” are to control everyone around you, and if so, get sane before making demands.” – Bob
It was bound to happen, right? Every time I write an article empowering people, someone jumps in and tells us to watch ourselves. It happened again this week when I published these 9 Assists When Asking For What You Need. Now, I don’t know what’s up with Bob, so I’m not even going to try to guess. But, I will say that this sounds a great deal like something I would have said fifteen or so years ago when my children’s father asked for what he needed.
Fast forward through the years of studying myself and codependency, going to meetings, therapy, and life coaching, and I’m writing today to say that when I invite you to ask for what you need, I’m also asking your partner, children, boss, parents, neighbors, etc. to ask for what they need. And once I’ve got everybody asking for what they need, I owe it to you follow up with the other half of the communication puzzle.
“No.” is a complete sentence.
“No, thank you.” is a polite, complete sentence.
If someone, with or without my urging, asks you to support them in getting their needs met, you are still in choice about whether you agree or decline to be a part of that person’s solution. Just because I ask you to help me, doesn’t mean you have to say yes. Likewise, when you ask for what you need, please don’t assume that means that I’m going to say yes.
And perhaps most importantly, if I ask for what I need, what I really want is for you to stop for a moment and think before you answer me. I want you to check in (as in inside, within, with yourself) to see if you actually have it in you to offer the thing I’ve expressed a need for. Do you have the time, energy, money, skills, passion, and other assorted resources to do the thing I need? If you don’t, on any of the assorted levels, have it to give… please don’t say yes.
Yes, I said that if you don’t have it to give, don’t give it.
If you don’t have what I need but you’d like to suggest an alternative solution to getting my need met, simply ask me if I’m open to it. You might say, “No, Christy, that won’t work for me. But, I do have another idea bubbling up. Would you like to hear it?” That allows me to retain ownership of my need, and the responsibility for getting it met. That way nobody gets confused. I won’t accidentally think that you’re now in charge, and neither will you.
My need is my problem. Still.
If I’m open, I will invite your suggestion. If we are feeling particularly strong, we might even have a conversation around me and my need. We might even come up with a solution. That would be awesome, don’t you think?
Now, I can feel the concern swelling, even as I type this. I want you to hear that I already know that this is going to change things for all of us. It certainly will. We might even have to redefine relationships based on the way people are really showing up in our lives. We might find that some people are more true for us than we realized, and that others aren’t as swell as we’d once hoped.
That can create some discomfort but I have good news: That’s just the truth shining through, and the truth is a foundation strong enough to build relationships on.