Effective Communication: Learning How To Ask For What You Want

Love, Heartbreak

When communication gets hard, what are we putting in our own way that makes it so?

When we get to the edge of what we know, fear shows up. And depending on how you are when fear shows up, a whole load of emotion might show up to—anger, sadness, depression, excitement, and even curiosity might be present.

The link between the first question and the statement above is what this article is about.

In life and in relationships, we have needs and desires that we want met. We want to experience being loved, and we want to experience partnership, joy, and spontaneity. We want the garbage put out, the floor cleaned, the kids picked up from daycare and to be stroked in that place just behind the ear whilst being held close. If you look, there are probably a lot of experiences you would like to be present in your relationships.

And we have some crazy ways of going about ensuring these needs and desires are met.

One of them being the story that, when it comes to relationship, getting my own needs met is not my responsibility. This story is a variation of "If my partner really loved me, then they would know what I needed and provide it without my asking."

Look back into your own past. How many hurts, disagreements, and/or squabbles have arisen when your needs were not being met because your partner did not do the right thing at the right time. After all, if they loved you, then that would not have happened, right?

Let's Play A Game

Mentally, or on paper, draw a square divided into 4 smaller squares. On the left, the two squares are labelled "ask", on the right "don't ask", on the top "get", and on the bottom "don't get".

  • The bottom right is labelled "don't ask" and "don't get". A pretty safe bet—very reliable. If we do not ask for something, then it is very predictable that we will not get it. With me so far?
  • The top left is labelled "ask" and "get". It sounds fairly boring and bland, and is not fully reliable. You will get what another is willing and able to give in response to your asking. Just notice how you feel about asking.
  • The bottom left is labelled "ask" and "don't get". Ouch. We put ourselves out there to say what we want and someone says no. Remember every time ever you did not get what you wanted, take all the feelings of hurt, rejection, sadness, disappointment and stuff them all in that box. It is the pits.
  • Now our top right square is labelled "don't ask" and "get". This is what we want right? Our needs are magically met by our partner who loves us and so has been granted psychic insight into our very being. In effect by not asking, you are asking for your partner to be exactly that - so completely tuned in that they "know" what you want probably before you do. And sometimes it can happen—is beautiful when it does—but it is very unreliable. As the basis for a fulfilling relationship, the lack of reliability is concerning.

So out of the available choices in this game, there is one boring choice that will generally get you what you want: "ask" and "get". I suggest that the "boring" part is deceptive. The reason that this shows up as boring and not particularly attractive is due to its fabulous neighbour to the right ("don't ask" and "get") and its horrible neighbour below ("ask" and "don't get").

All we have control over in this game is "ask" and "don't ask", so given the choice, we tend to go for the fabulous one where "don't ask" and "get" is a possibility, however slight. The alternative is to ask and take the risk of "don't get" which is the home of all the negative stories we hold about ourselves, our partner(s), life, and etc.

It's Your Responsibility

What would it be like for you if you asked for and received what you wanted? Would the reward of getting what you really need and desire be juicy, exciting, and fulfilling enough for you to take the risk of asking for it?

Back to the top of this article—not asking is a pretty sure guarantee that you will not get what you want. And asking for what you want is accompanied by the real fear of not getting it. Try feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. What is at stake? What could be possible is getting everything you ever wanted. Is that worth a step off into the unknown?

Your needs and desires are your responsibility. Take it, and notice what shows up. Is it more fulfilling and satisfying than what you have been doing? Then maybe it is time to cut your partner some slack for not being psychic, allow them to be just like you (with needs and desires, fallible, human, wonderful), and ask them to join you in a journey toward true fulfillment.

It may be time to start playing the big game; the "ask", "get" box is just the doorway. There is a whole life beyond it.

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