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For some of us, asking for what we want (or don’t) is one of the scariest things we can do.
And there’s a whole bunch of reasons for that.
But I don’t need to know them—and honestly, neither do you.
Because most of the subconscious stories we are telling ourselves that are blocking us from authentic expression are either made up, no longer valid, or leftover stories and survival mechanisms from childhood.
However, whether something is made up or not, if it feels real—well, then it basically is.
It’s like the time I was dating this guy and he called to tell me he had an STI. It sent us both down a spiral for 24 hours, until he called me back the next day from the doctor’s office to have the doctor share it was a false positive.
It sure felt real, but it ended up not being so.
This brings me to my point that much of what we think is real in our body is fiction. And the best way to re-pattern our nervous system is to do things differently rather than talk about why they are there. Which is why I don’t need to know what happened to you; I just need to know what you would like your future to look like.
Which brings me to the four-step process that I teach every single one of my coaching clients. A process that can help us ask for what we want without fear, shame, or apology:
1. Clean up your energy. What do I mean by this? So often people bring crappy energy into conversations when asking for something because we assume we know how the other person is going to respond. But actually—we don’t. So, unless we have ESP or are secretly trying to sabotage our relationships, be they friendly, intimate, or professional, I invite you to do this instead: bring the energy of the outcome you desire instead of bringing kicked dog, angry-whatever-it-is to the table.
How does that translate? Let me give you an example.
I knew the last boyfriend I had wasn’t my long-term person, and when it came time to release us both from the bonds of our relationship, I was initially scared. “What if I hurt his feelings?” “What if we can’t be friends after?” “What if we fight?” “What if he gets defensive?”
This was not getting me excited to talk to him. But you know what did get me excited? When I decided that I wasn’t going to hurt him by breaking things off. I was going to free both of us from a relationship that wasn’t serving us and give us both the opportunity to find better matches and better partners, and so I approached him with love, respect, and admiration, believing he was completely capable of relating to and handling my truth.
And guess what? It was so well-received, there was no drama, and we are friends to this day. So much of why we as humans react is the energy people bring to us; if someone expects us to be angry, we are much more likely to be so. And the beauty is we can reverse engineer that.
2. Radical Honesty. Be truthful! Assume that others can handle your truth, because they can. And if you don’t think you can be truthful, it’s time to re-evaluate your behaviors and reflect on why you are assuming that. Because if your behaviors are so bad you want to hide or lie about them, then you have some serious work to do.
3. Get out of the Drama Triangle. Reinforcing the above point, assume that the person you are communicating with can handle your truth and lo and behold they will be able to. If you are not familiar with the Drama Triangle, please check out my video here. Understanding my own role in this triangle has been the single most powerful tool to transform my mindset I have ever learned. It’s that important and powerful. Your assignment is to recognize what role you tend toward when struggling in communication
The Hero wants to protect people from uncomfortable feelings, and that often includes themselves. They will tend toward sugarcoating and omitting important parts of the story, which is messed up because that’s basically saying the other person is a victim.
The Victim tends toward doomsday predictions and thinks they are completely helpless to whatever the other person’s response is. They are the ones most likely to come with “kicked dog” energy, and often blame external circumstances instead of taking ownership of their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The Villain tends to over-communicate with anger and accusations, and gets defensive. The way out is by viewing yourself as sovereign and empowered.
The best way is to avoid all of these and use the tools of nonviolent communication instead.
4. Be Specific. Be super clear by saying things like, “I like when you respond to my messages immediately but feel confused and hurt when you don’t. Could you please respond to me more quickly?” Instead of saying things like, “You’re a jerk and obviously you don’t care about me!” Be specific. Don’t expect people to read your mind or think they should somehow “know” what you want.
There you have it. Please share this with anybody you feel could benefit from learning these techniques, and let me know what’s landing for you.