Asking for what we need can be hard. I’ve listened to many patients who were timid about asking their doctor’s office for a more convenient appointment time for fear of annoying the office staff or even saying to the doctor, “I need more information” for fear of taking up too much of the doctor’s time or sounding stupid. I’ve heard many people report they’ve listened to way too many distressing stories from well-meaning friends because they were afraid of offending them by asking them to change the topic.
There may be times when we don’t know what we need, so it’s helpful to evaluate physical and emotional responses to people and events by asking “Who or what fills my bucket? Who or what depletes me?” Your responses to those questions will help determine what is needed. If a person or activity is diminishing you, leaving you stressed and exhausted, then it’s time to make some changes by reducing or eliminating contact or activity.
There are also times when what we want may not be what we need. Let’s look at some examples: You want to receive recognition at work for being a superior employee, but that requires working 60 hours a week. That is what you want but may not be what you need. You want to have a lot of really close friends, but that means your free time is constantly devoted to everyone else. That is what you want but may not be what you need.
“Asking” may mean asking for help, which is the biggest “ask.” It’s the hardest because it can make us feel dependent, vulnerable, incompetent, dumb, inadequate, helpless, exposed, or needy. But asking for help is actually a sign of strength, self-awareness, honesty, and resourcefulness.
Nancy D. Solomon has said, “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” She’s right; it takes courage to ask for what we need. It takes practice as well. You’ve heard the statement “You don’t get if you don’t ask.” Here are some suggested statements to practice:
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SUE'S GIFT BLOG
Sherry Martin is the Patient Services Director for Sue's Gift, a licensed clinical social worker with over thirty years of experience in the field of oncology social work, and author of the book, Beginning Again: Tools for the Journey through Grief: A Step-by-Step Guide for Facilitators of a Grief Support Group. Sherry lives with her husband in Woodland Park, Colorado.
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