Imagine how many times someone has said to you, “Let me know if you need anything.” It can be a difficult offer to accept. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to answer, we worry about being a burden, or we believe asking for help is a sign of weakness. When was the last time you felt comfortable asking anyone for anything? We desire, we want, we need, but we don’t ask.
Clearly stating needs and wants is something I am working on, and I remind myself that hinting is not the same as asking. The family I grew up in did not model clarity in asking for help, advice, directions, or information, so that skill did not come with me into adulthood. It was frustrating to experience my hints not turning into the results I desired, until I realized the problem was my lack of clarity. Like building a muscle, this skill needs practice, and it’s best to start small and be emotionally calm.
We need to start by clarifying what we need or want, but sometimes we just don’t know what that is, so how can we ask effectively? If we give ourselves time to think through the changes we need, we will be able to verbalize our needs effectively. We need to get past being dissatisfied and take time to create a detailed picture of what we do want. Complaining, whining, or hinting is not the same as describing the outcome we need. We need to be clear and direct in sharing our description for change.
If we become irrational or emotional, we are not at our best, so for maximum success we need to restore calmness before starting to negotiate needed change. Wishful thinking is a place we can get stuck – it produces no change and leaves us feeling denied. If we choose not to ask, and instead stay in wishful thinking, we create a constant state of deprivation for ourselves. Who needs that?
So, let’s get specific about both big and small issues. Ask the kids to pick up their toys. Ask when the next sale will be (one of my favorite requests). Ask the name of a great paint color and then ask where you can find it. See a great hair cut? Ask who did it and where to go. Ask for a deadline extension. Ask for help with meal preparation, laundry, or house cleaning. Paperwork piling up? Ask for help organizing (something I love to do). Ask for a personal hour just for yourself to reclaim small moments of joy.
For those of us dealing with cancer the needs can be numerous. To make medical appointments most effective, ask for a driver and a companion who can take notes on what the doctor is saying. If needed, ask for a second doctor’s opinion. Ask what your treatment choices are, and insist on respect for your individual journey. Friends After Diagnosis has many helpful programs to meet the needs of women with cancer. Did you know you could ask for concierge service, go to supportive meetings where collective wisdom is shared, and participate in yoga, gentle exercises, and dance therapy? You can ask for equestrian therapy, rowing class in the Indian River Lagoon, and someone to talk to whether you’re feeling discouraged, or ready to celebrate something.
Know that when someone from Friends asks if they can do anything for you, they mean it. So don’t hold back; instead reply, “Thank you, I would appreciate some help.” Responding with a grateful heart will boost your immune system and could be the beginning or the strengthening of a friendship. Occasional disappointments will happen, but they can be handled with flexibility. I think you’ll be surprised by how many people come through for you when you ask for what you need. Just ask.
Until Next Time – Sylvia