It’s so hard to use your voice sometimes. Love me like this. Treat me like this. Respect me like this. It’s difficult to ask for what you need. There are so many things wrapped up in those feelings. Fear of rejection. Fear of not being valued. Of asking too much. Fear of being met with anger, resentment, apathy. So much fear. Instead, we quiet our voices. Stuff it down.
And we give and give and give, hoping that it will somehow fill in that space. That if we can just love enough and give enough it will be reflected back to us in just the way we need it.
It doesn’t work like that.
I am learning how to ask for what I need.
There was a time when I was so afraid to speak up. I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed without fearing that I would come off as selfish, or unthinking, or high-maintenance.
All of those things seemed worse to me than feeling deprived, depleted, and sometimes empty. I would rather hide inside of my shell of unworthiness than come out and risk being hurt. I put so little value on my wants, needs, and feelings that going through all of that was better than facing those feelings. So much fear.
I was afraid that no one would care enough to give me what I needed.
Not being able to ask for what I need nearly destroyed my life, and I don’t say that lightly. It put me in bad relationships and it landed me in situations where I was taken advantage of it. It put me in this mindset of never wanting to rock the boat and it made it so hard to enforce boundaries in my life, even with strangers. Boundaries were hard for me.
It made me terrified to ask for help.
It made me incredibly angry.
Made me feel alone in the world.
It convinced me that no one cared about me.
Ten years ago I was going through a heavy period of depression and feeling suicidal. I stayed up for two days straight, crying my eyes out. I felt so alone, so empty, and so unloved. Eventually, I called a hotline and it gave me direction and helped me to feel better. I told a friend at work about it a few days after the fact and then suddenly I had this whole group of co-workers tell me that if I ever needed to talk, they were there for me. I could have asked for a shoulder, used my voice to say I am lonely and struggling and I need someone to listen. Thinking back to those two days – I know that they didn’t need to happen.
Asking is powerful.
I realized a pattern throughout my relationships. I was always the giver. I’d let myself be treated how they wanted to treat me. I accepted the love they had to give me and I didn’t ask for more. Until I did. In huge explosions of anger and rage. Emotional meltdowns full of accusations and an attempt to verbally strip away love and affection because if they couldn’t give me what I wanted then they didn’t deserve what I had already given. I would let resentment build and build until I exploded, felt better, felt mortified, apologized, and then started the cycle all over again.
I’m learning how to ask.
Ask: When I need something, I ask for it. I may not get it. I may not get it in the way that I want it. But I’m allowed to ask. The world is not full of mind-readers. I can not expect to get what I want unless I am brave enough to speak those words out loud.
Ask for what you want in relationships, in friendships, on social media. Ask people for advice, or love, or to listen without judgment.
Be Vulnerable: Open your heart. Wide. Broken. Light shining in – open. Ask your partner, family, loved ones for what you need. To respect those needs if they aren’t in a place to honor it. Speak from that heart of yours. Hold nothing back. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you’re too sensitive or needy, embrace it. Your feelings are valid.
Communicate: This work is hard and sometimes we immediately go on the defensive, waiting for, even anticipating rejection. It’s fear. That’s your fear talking. The best way to ask for what you need is to do it in a way that honors everyone. Use “I feel… I need… I want…” Don’t let it come out as you “You never… You always… I hate it when you…”
Good communication comes with practice.
Be Specific: “Right now I feel ____ and I need ____.” Explain your feelings without placing blame. Go into every conversation with the goal of a resolution that makes everyone feel better. State what you need but also leave room for heartfelt discussion and compromise. Listen back.
Turn it to yourself: Practice self-care. Check in with yourself when there are demands on your time and ask yourself what you need when you are upset. Be aware of and genuinely care about how you’re feeling mentally and emotionally.
Not everyone will be able to give you what you need when you need it. However, they should always respect your needs. When people ignore, belittle, or meet your needs with anger – it’s time to analyze the part they play in your life. I have learned that most people will love you and want to make you happy. You won’t be putting them out or asking too much because the people we love want us to feel loved.
Are you able to ask for what you need?
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Agree with what you have stated in here. I am one of those who have problems asking for things. I feel like I bother people when I ask questions. I am working on that by reminding myself that I am missing on opportunities to grow if I do not express myself.
That’s a great way of looking at it!
beautiful write site…i love this write up
It’s taken me a while, but I’ve started doing this, too. I feel so much better when I do!
It is freeing in a beautiful way
I can really relate to this Dominee! For many years I was the one everyone asked for help and I gladly said yes. I rarely asked others for any help, partly as I felt I wanted to remain independent and do things myself. Now that I am older and wiser, it is funny how when I do ask for help, the people within my closest family circle, do not somehow believe me. They think that I can handle everything and don’t really need help. Slowly it is changing as I communicate more clearly and let them know that I really do need their help! It takes practice and sometimes persistence, but the reality is, all humans need help and not asking for it, is ultimately unhealthy for us.
I so much agree. I love being of service to other people and that’s part of the reason why I sometimes don’t communicate as clearly as I should, because I sincerely love helping other people. It’s weird that I used to think in someway that asking for help diminished the help I gave, because I didn’t want it to seem like any one was obligated to help me. Oh, the joys of growing and evolving.
You’ve come such a long way, Dominee. It’s beautiful to see you sharing your experiences so vulnerably and doing your best to help others. We need more people like you in the world <3
Awww, thank you. I’m glad that there are people like YOU in the world.
I love it when there are people that listen. That’s the best support system you can have. For me, even therapy doesn’t beat a listener.
In some circumstances, asking for what you need can be hard. One of the biggest issues that I’m having is it seems some of the people that I have no choice but to rely on don’t listen. Period. And they always have an excuse for not listening. They were never emotionally supportive to me. It leads to a lot of arguments, admittedly. I would get away from them if I financially had the choice.
And yet, I’ve known people that are good listeners, so I know the difference.
I constantly feel like I would have been better living in a different environment with different people. I’ve seen so many families where everyone listens. And yet, in my family, it’s expected to be one way. They expect me to listen, but they don’t want to listen back.
I’m just not the kind of person to give an ear to someone who doesn’t want to give an ear back.
If it weren’t for the fact that I can’t support myself due to my disability, I’d go into a woman’s shelter.
I truly relate to this, I know it’s been years back, but love
I truly relate to this, I know it’s been years back, but love