Have you ever wanted something badly but been afraid to ask?
Maybe it was a promotion at work, more affection from your significant other, or support from a friend. Perhaps you felt like the ask was too big, the timing wasn’t right, or you didn’t believe you deserved what you were asking for.
Imagine the power and fulfillment you would have, knowing everything you wanted was within your grasp. Guess what? It is! All you need to do is learn how to ask for things when you want them. Here’s how to ask for things you want and actually experience a “yes.”
Learning how to ask for things is a critical self-care skill. We all have needs, longings, or what we refer to as yearnings—deep desires to be seen, to be loved, to be respected, to be appreciated. We all yearn for things, and those yearnings drive many of our actions. We’re drawn to people, situations, and things that we believe will fulfill our yearnings (even if we don’t realize it).
But what do we need to do to get what we really want?
Many of us have given up on asking for things, even though we still want them. For years we’ve been conditioned that we shouldn’t ask. Asking will lead to judgment, rejection, or ridicule. We might worry that people will perceive us as rude, tacky, or aggressive if we ask for something. Maybe we hold back because we fear that we want too much or that people would take advantage of us if they knew how much we long for a particular thing. Perhaps we’re afraid to show vulnerability to others.
We carry these mistaken beliefs around with us throughout our lives—that while it’s okay for others to get what they want, the rules are different for us and our desires. These beliefs hold us back and prevent us from really going for it.
But knowing how to ask for things is a tool that can get us to realize our vision. We can start to experiment by asking to test (and ultimately break) through those mistaken beliefs. What if the world really does want to give us what we want? What if it’s okay to be vulnerable? What if people won’t take advantage but will actually be happy to help us fulfill our request?
As we explore our beliefs about asking and work through our fears of making requests, we’ll move toward getting what we want. Ultimately, when we learn how to ask for things, it will help us live the life we dream about and help us find fulfillment and satisfaction. To get what we want, we need to learn to ask for help, support, material items, favors, resources, assistance, and more.
We’ve all heard “no man is an island.” It’s true. None of us can achieve everything we want in life without the help of others. Most of us are drawn to others, and some of us even feel uncomfortable being alone.
Ever since we were born, we’ve been dependent on other people to help us get what we want out of life. Starting with our parent figures and moving on towards our friends, our lovers, and our partners, we rely on the input, support, and care of others. We need to connect with other human beings. Our engagement with others helps us fully realize our humanity and allows us to find satisfaction and joy.
Of course, some of us believe that we can get by entirely independently of others. We don’t need assistance. Maybe we needed love and support as a child, but now we can survive on our own. When we block out our connections and need for others, we deprive ourselves of the fantastic possibilities of human connection.
Think of the last time we did something for someone else. Maybe we helped someone at work or offered to buy someone’s coffee in line at Starbucks. How did it feel? Pretty great, right? We probably walked around for a few minutes in a glow, feeling that warm sense of social connection.
People want to help others. It makes us feel good when we can help another person—when we can meet their needs by giving them what they want.
When the tables are turned, it works in reverse as well. People want to give us things. They want to fulfill our requests, and they want to assist us. All we need to do is ask. As part of our synergy and human connection, when we ask for something, those around us will do their best to fulfill the request if it’s within their power.
One assignment in our Year of More course is to go out and ask for things. We challenge students to go out and ask for all sorts of things, just to see what they can get. They can make the request big or small, outlandish, or realistic. The objective is to see how many times they can get a “yes.”
When we set our intention to get what we want, we will be priming ourselves for success. We can remind ourselves that people want to give in to our requests. They want to help us. Asking is like a muscle, and we have to learn to stretch and practice to get better and better at it.
We can practice it as we travel throughout the day. As we interact with new people, ask them to “pass the salt” from a neighboring table or “ask if they can decipher a hard-to-see menu item.” Experiment with getting requests met and explore how it feels.
We may find it more comfortable initially to ask people we know for things. Asking our significant other for a favor or our friend to do something for us can feel a little more comfortable as we begin. Coworkers can be easy to interact with and good people to practice requests on.
As we learn how to ask for things, we’ll get better at it. It’s helpful to explore what thoughts go through our heads when we ask. What beliefs do we have about asking? Do we think it’s embarrassing? Do we feel nervous or shy? We can explore those emotions and see where they are leading us. It may offer us some more in-depth insight into why we feel uncomfortable asking for things when people clearly want to give us what we want.
After practicing with comfortable asks, we can push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. What if we ask for items with monetary value or higher levels of risk? As the stakes grow, what happens to our inner dialogue and thoughts about our requests? Why are some asks so much more challenging than others?
One of the most exciting aspects of the “ask for it” assignment is that our students see it really working. As requests get more outrageous and crazier, they still get what they want. Some get competitive to see who can make the biggest ask.
It’s part of our human connection to want to please others. We move towards pleasure and away from pain. We seek out opportunities to feel good, positive, and happy. When we’re able to make someone’s day by affirming their request, we get a little boost too. When we realize others feel the same way about our requests, it can remove much of the anxiety about making the ask.
Work on building up a rapport with others. Not with an insincere intent, but because we understand the importance of our human connection. As we build a rapport, we will discover that people start to understand our intentions and desires, and they want to fulfill them even more. When we engage with others and see them for who they truly are, they will do the same in return. As we strengthen our connection and communication, we will also discover that we have greater influence.
We should let our discovery of how to ask for things shift our view of the world. What if we view the world as an abundant place—where there is plenty of success, fortune, and positivity to go around? What if we stop believing that we’re operating in a place of danger or scarcity but instead believe that those we interact with genuinely want to help us and give us what we need?
When we ask with intention—the belief that we’ll get what we want—we set ourselves up for success. As musician Amanda Palmer explains in her TED talk: The Art of Asking, “when you connect with people, they want to help you.” When we believe that people will give us what we want, all we need to do is ask.
We can challenge ourselves today to go out and make the requests. Play with it—start as an experiment. What if we just ask for something simple? As that feels comfortable, stretch and ask for something a little bigger, then a little bigger, until we’re getting all the things we want. Believe that the universe wants to give us everything we want and need.
To learn more about getting what you want out of life, please explore our courses on Wright Now. We have many excellent webinars and resources to help you learn to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone and start living the life of your dreams!