06/28/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Ask Maddisen - How to Ask for What You Want

Dear Maddisen:
I definitely have a habit of being more focused on everyone else's needs and wants, at the expense of my own. Over the years, this has resulted in my feeling resentment and even like a martyr, but I don't want to be selfish. Do you have any insights for me?
Signed, RSW

Dear RSW,

Thank you for bringing this important topic forward for discussion. Some of us may find it very difficult and even impossible to say how we feel or to ask for what we want because we're afraid of being labeled as selfish, or of being rejected, or we may have a subconscious and erroneous belief that we're not worthy to receive. As a result, we make other people's opinions more important than our own, and at the unfortunate expense of not being true to ourselves.

The root-cause reasons why we please others at our own expense usually stem from early childhood experiences and unconscious conditioning. In this column, we won't get into too much detail about the whys, but rather, will focus on solutions that you can start practicing immediately. (If you are curious to explore the whys, that would be best handled in private coaching/counseling sessions or through selected readings.)

My intention is to coach you in asking for and receiving what you want. There is nothing selfish in this pursuit, in fact, I offer this insight - when you express and ask for what supports your own highest good and highest joy, it will indeed support the highest good of all concerned.

You are here to share your unique personal gifts, to express yourself authentically and be in fruitful conversation with your world. To accomplish this, you must be willing to take greater responsibility in speaking your truth with others, and it's absolutely possible to do this in a way that is caring and respectful of everyone involved, including yourself! You may feel fear at first, but once you follow through a few times, it will get easier and easier, and you will most likely experience a great sense of relief and fulfillment as you move out of self-protecting and into self-honoring behaviors. Responses and reactions from others may vary, however, in most cases, you'll find that people respect you much more when you speak your truth and ask for what you want.

Here's a simple process you can start using immediately to practice asking for what you want. Remember, practice equals mastery. I recommend doing this in a private setting, sitting down.


Step 1
Identify an unresolved situation in your life and the person(s) directly involved from whom you have withheld your opinion or your truth, in support of their needs but at the expense of your own.
If you don't have a current situation in mind, identify a past situation when you sacrificed your opinion or truth in a similar way.

Step 2
If there are hurts or judgments about you or others related to this situation, express them verbally.

Step 3
Practice Self Forgiveness for the hurts and/or judgments. Remember, you can use the core phrases: I forgive myself for judging myself for..., or I forgive myself for judging (the person's name) for... To review the simple Self Forgiveness process, click here:

Step 4
Acting as if the person is sitting right there in front of you, move into a dialogue with him or her, expressing everything you feel and everything you would like to express to them if you could speak your truth. The goal is for you to ask for what you want, and it's crucial that you ask for what you want in a caring and respectful way. In other words, you're not demanding anything from the other person but rather expressing what is true for you and what you need, from within your center.

Step 5
Repeat Step 4 several times, giving yourself complete freedom of expression in asking for exactly what you want, in a caring and respectful way. Assume that they support your highest good, just as you support theirs.

Practice this process as often as you like, and notice how you become more and more at ease expressing your truth with others. Specifically, practice speaking your truth and asking for what you want in the actual situations that were previously challenging for you. If it helps, remind yourself that you are practicing, and that you may stumble sometimes, and that the more you practice out in the world in real life situations, the more mastery and satisfaction you will experience. You might even practice with your friends, which will most likely help them as well.

And so, dear RSW, it sounds like you're ready to engage in honest conversation with others, speaking your truth and asking for what you want, in a caring and respectful manner. If you do this with the intention of serving your highest good and the highest good of all concerned, you can expect to get what you want and perhaps something even better!

Your Coach, Maddisen

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