Meet my cat, Trixie.
She was sick and undernourished when we brought her home from the shelter, so we didn’t see her full personality blossom until she became healthier.
And then, no doubt about it, she made herself known.
She wants food? MEOW.
She wants someone to pet her? MEOW.
She wants a human to sit so she can nap on a lap? MEOW.
She wants her magic water bowl put back in place? MEOW.
(I confess I don’t know for sure that the water bowl has supernatural powers, but she would rather dehydrate than drink water out of another container in another spot.)
It’s entertaining living with her. She gets what she wants.
Why does she get what she wants? Because she asks for it.
Even with a limited vocabulary, her requests are clear. There is no beating around the bush. No dropping hints. No waiting for someone to maybe-kind-of notice her. She ASKS.
Where in your life can you be more like Trixie?
In other words, where are you avoiding asking for what you want? Because if you are avoiding, the answer is already, by default, a no.
Avoiding has its roots in a few different internal challenges – which applies to you?
Do you know what you want?
Asking for what you want begins with knowing what you want.
If you’ve been following the rules your entire life, looking to others for direction, doing what they say you should do, aiming to meet their definition of success... there’s a good chance you’ve become disconnected from knowing what you want.
This is where you start.
There is a part of you that’s guiding you toward your best life, that knows what you love, what lights you up, what makes you happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. It is always guiding you but it doesn’t use words or thoughts, it communicates with you through your body.
Start tuning into these sensations. It’s a bit like playing the warmer/colder game, where someone hides something and you search for it by being told you’re getting warmer when you’re closer to it and you’re getting colder when you’re farther from it.
Notice when you’re feeling warmer (things you enjoy doing) or colder (things that you dread). If, for example, you feel a heavy weight in your stomach as you park your car at work, that’s a “colder” sign about your job. Or, if you feel focused and energized when you’re photographing butterflies, that’s a “warmer” sign about nature and/or photography.
Pay attention. These signals are guiding you in your right direction.
The conversation will be uncomfortable
This is a big obstacle when it comes to asking for what you want, especially if you’re not used to asking. Your mind starts streaming upsetting thoughts like, what will they say? what will they think of me? what if they say no?? It’s enough to send you hiding under the covers.
The antidote? Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and ask yourself, what would Trixie do? Because, I promise you, when she asks for food or a lap or a special water dish, she does not give a flip about what I think of her.
How others should know how to behave
This is a sneaky one because you may not see it operating in your life.
Do you have expectations about how people around you should act? And when they don’t follow these rules, do you feel ignored, unappreciated, rejected, or unloved? It’s not unusual to hold an unspoken set of rules about how you want people to behave.
The key word here is: unspoken. The people whom you are holding to these rules don’t know they exist. You may not even know they exist.
For example, you text your sister and she doesn’t reply for a week. If she cared, she would respond in a few hours, right? After all, how long does it take to type “Hey Sis!”?
Or it’s your birthday and your partner doesn’t mark the day the way you want. If he loved you, he would send your favorite flowers, take you out to dinner and give you a perfectly wrapped gift, right?
In both cases, you feel hurt and your sister and your partner are scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.
You think they should just know... but the people around you aren’t mind readers. Use your voice.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you might not get what you ask for. People can say yes, they can say no (or something in between). Like when Trixie asks for food at 4AM? Not going to happen. But her request is heard, loud and clear (and she gets her food at a more reasonable time in the morning).
Asking is powerful – you become your own strongest advocate, claiming what’s right for you. And that’s the best way to get more help for more of what you want.
When you hem and haw and hint, or just plain hide, you end up waiting and watching the world go by. When you ask, you are far more likely to hear a yes.
"You've got to ask! Asking is, in my opinion, the world's most powerful - and neglected - secret to success and happiness." – Percy Ross