A new year, a new decade—what do you want for your life?
I went into the bank the other day, looking for a calendar they give away free every year. I didn’t see them on the table in the back so I turned to leave. A woman sitting at a desk nearby asked what I was looking for. When I told her a calendar, she said they had more in the back and sent someone to get one for me. I thanked everyone, and as I turned to leave, she said “You have to ask for what you want.”
The irony of her saying this to me, is that a big piece of work with my clients and students, is helping them clarify and ask for what they want. And here I was not doing it. This has been a recent theme in my life. A couple of other incidences recently where, for various reasons, it was hard for me to ask for what I wanted, I realized I had slipped into not asking.
In my familial history, I was trained to not ask. Asking for what I wanted was seen as selfish and greedy, and I suspect threatened those who often couldn’t provide it. I was taught it was better to appreciate what you are given and have that be good enough.
The more cynical part of ourselves may say “What’s the point in asking—I won’t get it anyway”. The truth is, we have no idea what the outcome of our request will be. What I have come to realize is that there is self-empowerment in the asking, even if the results are less than forthcoming.
When we can clarify what it is our heart is longing for, from something as small as a new calendar to big things like a better job, happier relationship or more meaningful life, then we not only are more apt to get those things, but in the asking our heart feels acknowledged and responded to. And this creates a deeper experience of respect and satisfaction with ourselves.
Jack Canfield wrote a book on asking, The Aladdin Factor: How to Ask for What you Want and Get It. He talks about how we don’t often get clear on what our heart needs and wants, and therefore walk around with an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, let down and disappointment because others or the world hasn’t given us what we haven’t asked for.
Awhile back I decided to frequently ask my heart what it wants now. According to what it responded, I may fulfill that want or, if that was not possible in the moment, just listen to and allow the request. The power in letting the longing be expressed felt really good.
In the moment, what do you want? What does your heart long for? Can you express it to at least yourself? What would it take to ask for it in the world?
The worst that can happen is to be told No. and sometimes, that gives us even more incentive to be creative in fulfilling the heart’s request. At the very least, we have honored and said yes to our heart in the very listening.