I offer. I offer. I offer. I do not request. Actually, I avoid requesting

I am a caregiver, a listener, a healer, a sometimes wise woman. I am a metaphorical mother’s breast of endlessly flowing milk. I find esteem and comfort in providing. I find shame and agony in requesting. When it comes to requesting, I am a mess or was a mess.

I was so thrilled with the epiphany I had early this year in a conversation with a client. I “coined” the “3 R’s of the Soul – Refusing, Receiving and Requesting.”

I wrote about refusing and saying “NO.” I wrote about receiving. Then it was time to write about requesting. Paralysis of the mind – I couldn’t think about requesting, let alone write about it.

It has been over two months since I posted to this blog. Two months of hell for me. Hopefully, liberating hell. I have been facing the inner dilemma and the inner anxiety of facing my own “stuff” about requesting. I have learned a lot and as a great therapist once taught me – “Know it. Catch it. Change it.” I now know what a mess I am around requesting and this is the key. Now I easily catch myself and I am amazed at how I am changing my relationship to making requests.

If I were going to pathologize my requesting dilemma I would call it a social disorder. Requesting is a social deed, an action between self and other. I have difficulty determining what I need and requesting it from someone who is likely to be able to provide it.

This does not have to be major. It can be simple- like asking directions. I am so resistant to asking for directions – requesting help. It takes my breath away. Instead of asking some friendly person for directions, I drive around for god knows how long, fiercely looking for my destination. I know this is nuts, but I also know that a number of my readers are identifying with me.

Or I can be shopping and a salesperson asks if I need help. I say “No, thank you” as quickly, charmingly and confidently as I can. Then my inner voice says “You jerk! You know you need help.” I then silently search the store for whatever it is I need.

Notice, that I am only talking about minor, practical requests. Not major, life-supporting requests. Baby steps…baby steps.

Yes, there have been times when I have made a request, but not many. I can place a order with a waiter. I know what I want to eat and I request it. But if the hamburger comes well-done and I ordered medium rare, I do not request that I get what I ordered.

I have request envy. I watch friends and strangers make requests as if they have a right to request. Why don’t I feel that right? Intellectually, I know about this right to request. I know that self-respect encompasses needs and gifts, strengths and weaknesses. Yet, my thoughts about requesting don’t shape my feelings or my actions.

Why is it so damn difficult for me to make a request?

Come on a journey back to my childhood. My dear mother was a wreck, loaded with anxieties, pretty narcissistic and very incapable of meeting her own needs. Meeting the needs of her children was not her strength. I learned early on meeting her needs and not having any of my own was the only way to get love and not be abandoned.

My father was in and out of mental hospitals. My mother left him while he was hospitalized and moved us to Florida when I was 8 years old. Two months later when she told my sister and me that he was out of the hospital, I insisted that she put me on a plane so I could go take care of him. She did. I happily cared for my daddy until it became inconvenient for him and he put me on the plane back to Florida. At my young age, I decided I hadn’t offered enough to not be abandoned.

Light bulb!! I used the word “insisted” instead of “requested.” Yes, I can insist to get my needs met. I can righteously “demand.” So my options in requesting are all or nothing. I deny my needs or demand their fulfillment. The middle range of levels of request is just not there in my soul.

It is never to late to transform, transcend and find peace. Here I am at 60 finding a new relationship to requesting. So I will write about my new insights about requesting. Just remember as I will – conceptual understanding of basic rights and activities and the recognition of the biographical roots of personal difficulties are only steps to the essential practice of the rightful activity. Requesting is making the request – not thinking about it.

The Right Request

First, determine your need, the object of your request. Be clear and be specific. If you are not specific about what you need, you may not get what is appropriate for and fulfilling of your need.

You may need to work at this. I suggest finding a few minutes and do some journaling about your need. Know your need which is the desired result or outcome of your successful request. Then write down your request. You may need to rewrite it several times to get to the right phrasing. If you do this practice for a month or two you will build a skill and master the art of the Right Request.

Each week I have a “One to One” training session at my Apple Store. (another reason to switch to a Mac – 52 private training sessions for just $100 – fabulous) I make a list of my questions before I go. What I don’t do is make a list of what results I am wanting. If I got clear that at the end of the hour I want to be able to create a spreadsheet, I would be less likely to go off on interesting but unnecessary tangents that diminish the success of the outcome. Often I learn about wonderful things, but not what I wanted to learn. That’s my job as the requester to manage the request and stay focused on the outcome.

Journal about the fulfillment, the outcome of your request. Conscious requesting means you are clear about the goal of the quest!

The Right Provider

Second, ask yourself “Who can provide what I am requesting?” Who can meet your needs? Too often we don’t ask the right person or the right organization. We are requesting that we be served and we need to know that our provider is capable of the service. Otherwise we are going to be disappointed or in deep trouble. It is also possible to ask “Are you the right person to meet my request? If not, can you help me determine who is?”

I am very happy to be a resource for my clients. If I recognize an issue is better handled by another healer, I am happy to provide a provider.

Seek out the right provider for your request. If you need help in finding the right provider, request it from a good resource.

The Right Level of Request

Make a list of levels of request from denial of the request to demand and insistence. Look at your style of requesting. Look at your comfort and safety around requesting.

My stepmother had a very pleasant way of asking for discounts from her service providers like the dry cleaner. She almost always got her discount. She really understood the relationship of requesting and providing. I wish I had paid attention to her art.

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” But do you ask with honey, with vinegar or with poison?

If you are clear about your request and have confidence in your provider, than this exploration on the art of the request, will be easy. But if you are anxious about making the request, ask a friend to rehearse with you. Make sure you pay attention to any feelings or memories that surface during the rehearsal – they are clues to resolving your issues and healing your wounds around requesting

Then…go ask. Life is a quest filled with requests. Find the right question, ask the right person in the right way and you will succeed, celebrate and rejoice.

I have three requests. Please let your friends know about the Live In Full Bloom! blog.
Please write a comment to this post. Please contact me at [email protected] if you need some counseling and coaching on living your life in full bloom.