Week 10: Ask For Everything
I've been following life coach Susan Hyatt for a few months. Before watching an interview of her, I had an idea of a life coach being a possibly intriguing, probably fluffy, sort of person. Well, that changed. This woman is on fire. She embodies female empowerment - of the body, of the mind, and of the voice. And last week, the focus was on the latter: she led a week-long program called 'Ask for Everything.'
During that week, I asked for an extra paycheck, to cover 2 of the 4 weeks of my unpaid training period when I learned my coworker was paid for it. I asked for a 10% off discount that was advertised for an expensive upcoming trip, but after I applied and was invoiced. I asked the new NASA communications director at JPL for a meeting to discuss a book idea I have in mind. I asked a close family member to stop asking me for things anymore, especially without reciprocating.
In brief: similar to Miracle Week (this blog was born on day 3 of Miracle Week), Ask for Everything had daily challenges. Ask for a referral, ask for something fun, ask for something crazy...you get it.
I didn't follow the challenge template day-for-day, because on some days I felt into asks that may not have fallen in the particular category.
As it has for many women, it's been hard for me to find my voice in this life.
Even when other people have clearly made ridiculous requests of me, or tried to squeeze as much as they could from me, it has been hard to say no and harder to say OH HELL NO. To say no and mean it, so they didn't dare to prod and poke for a yes. And it has been hardest to ask of other people what I thought was 'too much.'
There is a distinction between asking and demanding, or expecting. The biggest thou-shalt-not of asking is to not take the other person's needs into consideration. Respect the boundaries of others. But if something is rightfully due to you, or would fire up your dreams, ask for it! And if you don't actually need a yes from someone besides you, don't look elsewhere for a validating green light, do it...with your own permission.
This week I asked for things that maybe I would have gotten around to maybe asking...eventually. When I had 'had enough' or had become bitter.
But why not ask when we're content, and not yet bitter? When something would give us more ease, more play, more time? When something might jump-start us on a dream we've had for a long time? The worst that could happen is that the answer will be no, or the person you're asking will ruffle their feathers at your audacity. If it is a no, it might be an opportunity to move on and find your YES elsewhere, or to learn more information about the kind of person you're dealing with and if he/she/they are someone you want to spend your time with.
If the ask is inappropriate, or if a no is fair, it might be an opportunity to respect the other's boundaries.
It's not about the answer to the question, or about obtaining permission. The point of this exercise is something that has eluded me a long time: I have my voice and I can use it. If it isn't respected, I have a choice to leave. Which was a choice I did not always have as a child, but I can practice differentiating then from now.
More than the specific asks I made (the answers to which were pretty responsive), my most valuable takeaway from this challenge is a sense of being able to speak when I need to, when I want to. When something is important to me. This is something I have been practicing for a while, in the last year especially, but within a literal week I feel like I've gone from asking middle school to asking grad school. Guess I was ready!
And it's not necessarily about the asking - it's about using my voice. I notice that this week - yes, in the difference of a week - it is way more uncomfortable to not speak up, even if what I'm saying is not an ask. Even though I get nervous right before, it's actually easier to externally reflect what I internally feel than try to hide it. To shut up is impossible.
I'm not aiming to be an open book - saying every thought that enters my mind - but to be able to express feelings and thoughts that matter to me, that others might not be comfortable with hearing, is, to me, a skill imperative to leading a fulfilling life. This past week I have actually let go of a lot of the baggage that comes with wanting to please people that could or do have an influence over my life, just for the sake of protecting them from their unprocessed feelings.
And I have stepped into asking for what I need, for what would fuel my dreams in a way that does not harm anyone.
And when I think about it, the demands I have been allowing for much of my life, that I am finally saying NOPE to, are ridiculous. They are requests that, for whatever reason, I have been afraid to say no to...even while knowing those requests are majorly inappropriate and exploitative.
So, especially if you're a woman, I encourage you to check out Susan Hyatt. I have received much motivation, wisdom, and courage from her.
I'll end with this nugget: get your hopes way up. We often hear the reverse, "don't get your hopes up." Why? Because disappointment sucks and we don't want to feel it...but what is the cost of not getting your hopes up? What is the cost of never asking? A hell of a lot. And we are capable of feeling the whole spectrum: happiness, sadness, love, anger, hope, and...disappointment. We'll get over it, but we might never get over a dream unanswered. So ask and hope, and if it doesn't work out, try again and again.