Sunday, February 2, 2020

Asking For What You Want

I just finished listening to The Aladdin Factor, How To Ask For What You Want - And Get it, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. 

When I first bought this book, I was convinced I wouldn't like it for some reason. Something about the title rubbed me the wrong way.  Sometimes, I buy a book and can't wait to dive into it and other times I buy a book just because I feel it's something I probably should read as a coach and personal growth enthusiast.  This time, the motivation was the latter.

But, as it turns out, it ended up being one of my favourite reads in a while. Many of the ideas felt new to me and as I read the book I found myself making some pretty significant shifts around my beliefs when it comes to asking for I want.  Something I didn't realize I needed.

I love it when a book does that!!

When I was a teenager, I distinctly remember being impressed by my brother's ability to be absolutely relentless when it came to asking my mother for something he wanted.  I have this distinct memory of standing in the kitchen of the home we grew up in and watching him in action.  He would just keep on repeating his request and the words "pleeeeease Mom", until my mother finally broke down and acquiesced.  I envied him in those moments.  It felt to me like he had some kind of super power reserved only for boys.  You see, as a "girl",  I was convinced that asking, especially in an incessant way, was absolutely inappropriate.  Good, polite, people pleasing girls didn't ask for what they needed.  And asking for a want!!!  Come on!!  Selfish, selfish, selfish! No! A girl's super power lied in her ability to determine what others wanted and needed and finding ways of meeting those needs and wants. 

Isn't that kind of the way we were raised ladies?

This book made me realize how maybe, us gals need to take a closer look at this idea of "Asking For What We Want"!

I would suggest that when it comes to taking care of ourselves, we have two major challenges ahead of us.  Learning to say no, and on the flip side of that, asking for what we want.  The two, are intimately related and their relationship can be the cause of great aggravation in our lives and the lives of those around us.

As women, we are nurturers, taught to be self-sacrificing and to take care of others.  This is "who" we believe ourselves to be.  And I put forward that a patriarchal society has reinforced this belief and identity to a point that is fundamentally detrimental to our mental, emotional and physical well being. I challenge that this identity is not in our best interest and that it is our responsibility to change it.  I am not claiming we should completely eliminate our nurturing side but I am suggesting that we balance care of others with care of self.

I am convinced that this belief or sense of identity is why I was so uncomfortable with the book's title.  The idea of asking for I wanted created what James Clear calls, in his book Atomic Habits, an "identity conflict."

Identity conflict, as defined by this author, occurs when a desired or expressed behaviour is in direct conflict with a belief, perceived identity or self-image.  From the information I've gathered as a coach and self-care workshop facilitator, I feel pretty confident in saying that many women feel this identity conflict when presented with the idea of asking for what they want.

The good news is, we can change and resolve this inner conflict.  How?  First we choose a new identity.  That might seem like an insurmountable task but all it really means is answering the following questions, "Who am I?"  or "Who do I Want to Become?"
Now, in the context of asking for what we want, the answer to these questions might be something along these lines,  "I am worthy.  I am a woman who does not hesitate to ask for what I need and want."

The next step, is behaving in alignment with this new identity.  That means starting to ask for what we want and need, and doing it often!!

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear points out that "Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become."  As the number of votes in favour of your preferred identity increases so does the strength of this identity.

WARNING...when you start doing this, guilt will rear it's ugly head. And when it does, I want you to celebrate!!  It means you are pissing off your old, unwanted identity.  The one that wants you to continue believing you should put yourself last.
When we start changing our beliefs about who we are, it can cause cognitive dissonance.  We have to be mindful not to automatically assume that guilt is indicative of us actually having done something wrong.  Sometimes guilt is simply a by-product of doing something we are not use to doing or that goes against a limiting core belief, one that is not in our best interest.

So here is what I challenge you to do in the next 7 days.  I want you to find every possible opportunity to ask for something you want and need.  Make it interesting,  push the envelope, ask for things you would not normally expect to get.
Here are some questions you can answer in your journal in order to get the most out of this exercise:

  1. What feelings came up for me when asking for what I wanted?
  2. What surprises did I get?
  3. How did other people react to this new me?
  4. What challenges did I have in doing this?
  5. How can I support myself in learning this new skill moving forward?
Now, it's important to point out that you won't always get yeses to your requests.  But I guarantee that you will get a lot more of what makes you happy if you try.

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

If you are interested in learning more about asking for what you want, I highly recommend Jack Canfield's book. 

Create an awesome week!
Joanne 💗


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