5 Ways to Ask for What You Need
Do you know how to ask for what you need?
It has taken me the better part of my adult life to learn how to ask for what I need, whether that be space, help, advice or quiet.
After a number of passionate discussions with a dear friend, I started to notice a pattern. In the throws of our friendship negotiations, of our relationship, we both suffered from a lack of clarity about what we needed individually and from each other.
This got me thinking. How do we discover our needs?
Often times it's much easier to piggy-back onto the needs of other, more demanding people in life. You know the sort, the ones who are always telling you (usually in graphic detail) how they're feeling and what they want. Their needs and desires overthrow your own by their sheer volume and weight. You don't have the headspace to entertain your own personal needs because of the largeness of their agenda. I don't mean this is a negative way nor am I trying to discount the value of personal expression, but when you're out of practice in paying attention to yourself, anyone else's truth can be overwhelming.
If this sounds like you, then you're probably like me: an empath. What I've found recently is that once I discovered this about myself, I could better plan my world to ensure time and space for, well, myself. The thing is, you have to do the work in order to figure out what you need. It isn't easy work; it's confronting and riddled with habitual pathways you've been walking for a long time. The upside is that only you can help yourself, so to get you started, here are 5 ways I ask for what I need.
1. Be honest with yourself and write it down
There's been a tonne of research into the power of expressive writing. Taking a few moments out of your morning/night to write down a short list of the things you need makes those needs real and tangible. You might need more sleep, quiet, inspiration, travel, work, money, calm, adventure, etc. The key is to think short-term and be honest: what would make your life better right now?
2. Flip the question on its head - what are your 'un-wants'?
A big trap of our Western world is the culture of complaint, where it's deemed cool to tell anyone who'll listen a list of the things you hate. It isn't cool - it's boring, BUT, a really effective strategy to find out what you need is to define what you don't want. You might not want noise, fear, negativity, junk food, bitterness, etc. Take these 'un-wants' and write their opposite which should give you a nicely rounded spectrum to work within.
3. Find solace in the words of others
Ever heard the cliche 'everything has been done before'? It's a cliche for a reason - because in this instance, chances are, someone else has already done the hard work for you and defined a set of needs that will resonate with you. Look up book recommendations on Amazon or read a book; I listen to On Being and watch Marie TV. The answers are not just inside your head, they're also 'out there'.
4. Confide in a trusted friend
It was my friend who first got me thinking about how I should be more in tune with myself. We are all a walking conglomerate of experiences and knowledge available for free upon request - learn to cut the crap and just ask for help. If they're a good friend, they'll bend over backwards to get you on track.
5. Be an adult and give it to yourself
I touched on this earlier, but you are the only one who can truly help yourself. Be kind and compassionate to yourself and put aside some time for solitude and downtime. It's usually the first thing I sacrifice when the shit hits the fan or life gets hectic, but I'm learning that space is mandatory and I will be of no use to anyone else if I'm frazzled, confused or cornered.
So tell me, right now, at this very moment, what you need?