Balance Is the Key to Life
To be a healthy individual, you should be able to balance the areas of giving to others, asking for what you need, and giving to yourself. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who give to another person in hopes that they will get the same in return. This is especially true for women. In our women’s groups, I frequently see women who are giving to the group what they desperately need, whether that be a shoulder to cry on, a gentle touch, or a word of encouragement. Much of their work is learning to ask for what they need. Women complain, “But if I ask, then it didn’t come naturally; it’s not from the heart.” Their statement is partially true, that it may not be natural, but it can still be given from the heart.
When I see couples who are starving for attention, they are encouraged to ask for what they need. Typically, they want to stalemate each other, stating that “if I have to ask, it does not feel genuine, and it doesn’t count. They should know what I need or they should simultaneously want the same things.” Couples expect their partners to be on the same page regarding their needs. I am here to tell you that this does not happen naturally in a relationship!
A healthy individual will ask directly and honestly for what they want. I know you might be thinking, “But if I ask, I might be rejected.” That is absolutely a possibility, but your partner, family member, coworker, or friend can’t read your mind. If they know what you need, they have a choice of responding or not. This is the same for people who are easily disappointed. I encourage them to be assertive but have low expectations or better yet no expectations. That way they can focus on their contribution—they asked for what they needed but stayed realistic about the request. Asking does not ensure that they will get their needs met.
The skeptical client will ask, “Okay, so I asked. What happens if I don’t get my needs met?” It is your responsibility to figure out a safe way to get your needs met! For instance, if you need more affection from your husband or wife and it is not reciprocated, grab a hug from a friend, spend time loving on your dog, or get some hugs at church. You may be thinking, “Come on, Carol, that’s not the same thing.” But clearly, the key to life is appreciating what you do have in this short life, so expend your energy elsewhere in safe ways (this is not a license for an affair).
If you want a job promotion at work, ask. If the boss turns you down, strategize with him or her how you can promote yourself in the future. Ask yourself, “What need am I trying to meet?” Increased recognition, more money, better mobility? Once you have decided on your need, figure out another way to get that need supplemented. Remember, when you directly ask for what you need you can feel good about letting others know of your intentions. Focus on the positive feelings of being direct. If you fear rejection, memorize the statement “Low expectations, no expectations.” This will help you remember that asking does not automatically ensure receiving. Lastly, pride yourself on your clarity and ability to express your needs.
As people get better at asking for what they need, they start gravitating toward others on the same level. This results in a more nurturing and supportive environment and promotes balance in your life.