My beautiful mum had many favourite sayings and that’s most probably where I got it from! One of her most fave was “You don’t ask, you don’t get”, and she rolled it out enough that it has been imprinted on my brain and reflected in my actions since day Dot.
It’s pretty simple really: if you want something, ask for it, and at the bare minimum create the opportunity for yourself to get that thing. If you don’t ask the question there is very little chance that whatever it is you want will become yours.
Ironically enough, some people just sit on the sidelines of their lives hoping that the world will give them the things they desire by chance or hope or faith. Let’s get real here – your chances are slim if that is your strategy!
So what is it that makes people reluctant to ask for what they want? Is it being told ‘No’? The feeling of rejection? The concern of looking greedy or demanding? The belief they aren’t worthy of it? The fact they don’t want to cause trouble?
I believe the reasons are unique to the individual, but there are definitely common themes that feature in all of the above reasons. Two of the biggest ones – I’d predict – are rejection and worthiness.
People don’t like being told ‘No’. Maybe that’s because as children we have heard that word so many times. In fact, there is a UCLA study that says toddlers hear the word ‘No’ up to 400 times per day.
Being told ‘No’ could be considered a form of rejection. A person has built up the courage to ask the question and then is shot down in flames with a big, fat ‘No’ response. That can be hard to take, especially if we are already in a somewhat compromised emotional state or if are still carrying the memories of similar past experiences.
Last month when I was in Croatia, we did a city tour of Split, a very beautiful and old town on the Adriatic coastline. Our gorgeous guide was telling us about how, back in the day, if a young man liked a young woman, he would go to her home and sing outside the closed shutters – thus informing the family of his desire to be with her.
The lady in question would sit inside listening to him sing and the family would then decide if they liked him or not. If they liked him, the shutters would be opened and he would be welcomed into the house. If they didn’t like him, the shutters would remain closed, the family would reject him – and to top it all off, the neighbours would know all about it because they’d come to see who was singing!
Asking and not getting in 15th century Croatia took some serious courage! But hey: risk takers are winners (another favourite saying of mine).
Let’s be honest though, no one likes being rejected. The important part is to understand what meaning you give to rejection. Does it mean you were told ‘No’ and that’s it – no more or less? Or does it mean that you are not good enough and never going to get anywhere? (ouch – that second one would hurt!).
If we give rejection or being told ‘No’ a meaning that causes us pain, then the chances of us doing something become less – a lot less! Human beings will do more to avoid pain than get pleasure – it’s how we are wired.
Even if getting the thing we want brings us pleasure, avoiding the pain is often the stronger driver. As a result we simply don’t ask.
Secondly, worthiness often comes into play around asking for what we want. We have to believe that we are worthy of what we are asking for. Not entitled, just worthy. If we don’t believe that we are worthy of the thing we desire, then we don’t tend to get those things. The Universe is always listening to what we are telling it and it only knows ‘Yes’.
“I want the thing but I’m not going to get it” – ‘Yes’ says the Universe.
“I want to ask that person out but I bet they will say no” – ‘Yes’ says the Universe.
It is incredibly important to have our worth in alignment with our desires! If we desire great things but don’t believe we are worthy of them then that is the reality we create. If you are someone who finds it hard to ask for what you want, take a moment to explore whether your worth meets your desires. This could be a road block for you that you have not yet noticed.
The thing about asking is it becomes easier with practise – like anything really. The more we can build up the muscle of asking for what we want, the bigger the things we start to ask for. All of a sudden we are getting more of the things we want and we also experience more flow with asking.
And with time, that it is what it becomes: simply asking.