- Mental Health
Ask And You Shall Receive - At Least Some Of The Time
Get What You Want Out Of Life By Just Asking
There are many ways to get the things you want out of life. You can steal them, buy them, create them, find them, imagine them, inherit them or just simply ask for them. Now I'm not referring to asking in the spiritual or psychological sense by praying, meditating or thinking positive thoughts, I'm talking about literally opening your mouth and asking. As simple and obvious as it sounds, many of us go through our entire lives never asking for what we want. In our work lives we don't ask for a raise or a promotion or even for a specific day off. In our personal lives we don't ask for help or an explanation or understanding or friendship or even a date and in our everyday lives, even when we know we deserve it, we don't ask for a refund or a repair or assistance or more importantly acceptable service and respect. Most psychologists and psychiatrists would tell you that our reluctance to ask for things comes from both a fear of being rejected and a feeling that on some deep psychological level we really don't feel we deserve what we're asking for.
Nobody likes to hear the word "no". No, by it's mere definition, is negative and indicates that something is not going to happen and that we're not going to get something we want. The word "no" makes us feel bad and we interpret it as not just rejection, but as a personal assault on our character and self-esteem and so, rather than having to deal with the negative feelings we assume are coming from the response, we hide behind our fear and don't ask.
The fallacy in this thinking is that we are operating under the illusion that by not asking we are saving ourselves from the rejection of asking, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that when we choose not to ask, while we aren't technically rejected by the negative words of the other person, in our minds we create the same negative, debilitating outcome and anxiety without ever asking the question. In reality, by not asking, we never know the real answer and we perpetuate the assumed feeling of rejection indefinitely and make ourselves feel even worse. When you ask there is always a chance the answer will be no, but there is also the chance it won't, but by not asking the answer is always no. For example, let's assume something important and unexpected comes up and you need to change your day off at work. Based on water cooler gossip from other employees, some of who actually never asked the boss for anything and others who were told no for other reasons, you make the assumption your boss is an insensitive jerk and will never allow the switch, so you decide not to ask. Instead of asking and eliminating the doubt, you assume the answer will be negative which creates even more anxiety for yourself and hostility toward your boss, who in fairness is totally unaware of your situation.
In addition to eliminating assumption and providing absolute clarification and possible negotiation, the other important benefit of asking is that regardless of the answer you get, the process of asking actually builds your self-esteem and confidence and makes you feel better about yourself. While you may or may not get the answer you want, you at least took a risk and got a definite answer. The more we ask the more comfortable we get with asking, the less personal we take the outcome and the better we become at dealing with the response. In other words, there is absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking. And, as stated earlier, while this principal sounds easy and obvious, the fact is that most of us don't use it and get its benefits. In the next Hub on this topic, I'll examine the philosophy and practice of asking and the many ways to apply it in your everyday life.