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Written by Tera on October 8, 2012 – -
by Shana James
It is amazing how asking for a little bit of help can feel like such a huge deal. Sometimes my palms sweat. Sometimes my voice catches or my throat goes dry. Why does asking for help tend to bring up anxiety for so many of us?
This happened to me last week:
As I paid for my groceries the cashier asked if I wanted help out to my car. “Nah,” I said. I can do it.”
He looked at the chubby baby in my arms. “Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” I said confidently.
Then he said, “Well this guy standing here doesn’t have anything else to do.” He looked at me with a smirk on his face as he scanned a big bunch of bananas.
At that point I looked at my full cart of groceries, felt the weight of my 20+ pound baby in my arms and finally said, “Okay. Sure. That would be great!”
It was as though I had to be knocked over the head to realize that having a little bit of help would make a huge difference! Why didn’t I think to ask for it?
There is the Super Woman, “I can do it all” complex, but it’s more than that. I’ve felt hesitant to ask for small things and things that involve self-care - a back rub, a glass of water, a few minutes of attentive listening.
So what is so daunting about asking, even when it’s for something small?
Here’s what comes to mind as I sit here writing:
1. The person I ask could say “No”
Even if it’s unlikely that someone will say “No” to my request, it is possible. It hurts when I hear a “No” so if I just do it myself I don’t risk feeling that hurt. Not receiving the care or attention I want makes me feel more vulnerable and alone than if I hadn’t asked in the first place.
2. It’s easy to question myself when I hear a “No”
If I ask for what I want and hear a “No” in response, I sometimes question whether I had a right to ask for it in the first place. Or whether I deserve what I was asking for. It eventually crosses my mind that the other person has his/her own reasons for saying “No” that have nothing to do with me. But in the mean time, tapping into “Do I deserve?” brings up some deep stuff.
3. Someone might leave me
I admit this is extreme. If I ask for help around the house my husband probably won’t leave me. If I ask a friend to pick up a few groceries she’ll probably still want to be my friend.
But this touches into a fear most of us have at some point – that we are a burden to others, and if we continue to be they may eventually leave us.
Wow! In the ten minutes I sat here thinking about this it really did touch into some of the deepest fears and concerns humans have. Asking for what we want is not easy!
Most of these fears and concerns are a result of childhood experiences. As adults we have resources and strength we didn’t have when we were young.
One way to unravel the threads of self-doubt, wondering whether you’re a burden or if you deserve what you want, is to play with taking risks and asking. Even when it feels scary!
When someone says “Yes” you can rejoice and feel grateful. When someone says “No” you can sit with the discomfort, let yourself feel the pain and even cry. It is just as okay to feel upset when you don’t get the care and support you need as it is to want it in the first place.
Wanting and asking can be confusing and scary. To make it easier to ask for what you want and need, be sure to check out The Art of Asking For What You Want. Classes begin October 15th.
Shana James is a dating and relationship coach, co-founder of the Authentic Woman Experience, and senior Course Leader for Authentic World. She helps women and men create phenomenal romantic relationships, lives they love, and real sister- and brotherhood…without compromising themselves.
Over the past ten years Shana has coached and mentored hundreds of people from around the world. Even therapists and long-time coaches credit her with helping them move through their blocks to finding and sustaining love. Shana co-created the Authentic Woman Experience workshop series to serve women who are dissatisfied, settling or feeling resigned about love. In these teleseminars and live events, women learn to create the loving partnerships they deeply desire. Women in relationship learn to keep it deep, connected and passionate for the long-term.
Shana has a masters degree in Psychology, along with hundreds of hours of coaching and course leadership training. She lives with her husband and their baby in the SF Bay Area.