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How To Ask For What You Want In Life
From someone who's constantly learning to ask for what she wants
Many years ago, those delicate mid-twenties I’ll never get back, all my days were consumed with a never-ending breakup with a boyfriend. (This boyfriend.) We brought out the worst in each other and we couldn’t stay away from each other.
“You know I wanted to have kids with you, right?” he said a little too confidently during the final, for real this time breakup.
I almost laughed. Maybe I did laugh. “What? You never told me that.”
The thought of us, two good people in a truly disastrous relationship, bringing children into our love you/love you not madness was ridiculous to me. His delusion almost came off as sweet.
“That wasn’t the deal. That was never the deal,” I said.
Of course I didn’t know he wanted to have kids with me. Why? Because he told me he didn’t want to have kids, not just with me but ever. I’m mildly intuitive – ruled by my root chakra, I’ve been told – but it turns out I’m not a mind reader. If someone tells me something, I would never brazenly assume they actually want the opposite. Weird, huh?
Turns out you have to ask for what you want – in love, at work, in every nook and cranny of life. A raise, a ride to the airport, a handful of his fries, a sabbatical to care for your mental health, more foreplay, to borrow a pen. Getting what you want, however big or small, requires you to build up a muscle of tenacity, bravery, and clear communication. A little luck helps too.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Know exactly what you want.
Manifesting 101. Identify your problem, then recognize your need. Get specific. Don’t be fooled into believing anyone will deliver a pile of cash – or Harry Styles or a restored relationship with your estranged sister – to your doorstep without you asking.
Truly believe you deserve it.
If you don’t think you’re worthy of what you’re asking for, chances are whoever you’re asking isn’t going to think so either. Ouch, huh? If, somewhere deep down there, you believe you aren’t smart enough, young enough, charming enough, deserving enough, you gotta sort out those insecurities first. Or, discuss them in your next therapy session and charge ahead pretending.
Recognize the difference between having needs and being needy
Thanks to a melange of midwestern/Catholic/Irish/child of divorce guilt-ridden reasons, until I was, say, 30, I blurred the lines between having needs and feeling needy. You think you’re an amoeba, my therapist told me during one of our first sessions.
We all have basic needs: to have a sense of purpose, to feel safe, a few meals a day. See Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for more. You asking the woman in the produce department to scoot her cart over so you can pass by isn’t needy. You asking for a bump in pay so you can afford these gd gas prices isn’t needy.
Keep it brief.
Be clear, concise, kind, and convincing. Subject, predicate, verb, manners. Resist the urge to include “maybes” and “justs.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I want to buy a houseboat in Amsterdam and find loving homes for all the world’s orphans and have affordable healthcare and trip on a treasure chest of gold too. Maybe that’s asking too much though. Don’t dampen your dreams, but take baby steps to get there.
Consider the other person.
Oftentimes your ask is another person’s give. Be thoughtful of their bandwidth for what you want. And, like everything in life, timing is key. No, 4:55 p.m., when your boss is frantically packing up, trying to get to her daughter’s soccer tournament when you know she’s missed the last three games really isn’t the time.
Try, try again.
If, at first you don’t succeed, reassess your approach, trust the universe, then try, try again.
A list of things, in no particular order, that I want right now:
To stay in LA until idk when – forever maybe?
A certain someone to apologize
A couple new retainer clients
For the democrats to do literally anything
To never scrape ice off my car again
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