My good artist friends and colleagues shared this photo on Instagram earlier this week and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s so simple and yet so often I see so many people, women especially, really struggle with it.
It’s a huge mistake and one that really holds us back.
Too often we wait.
- We wait for permission. No one is asking me so I need to put my hand in the air and wait to be called on before I can offer my opinion.
- We wait for the other person to figure out what we want, need, and desire — in work or personal lives. We have silent contracts with people when we believe this. “Well they should know by now!” “Well, if he doesn’t know, I’m not going to tell him.”
- We’re afraid of the answer. Afraid it will be no so we assume no and react accordingly. We negate everything, including our friends and family’s wise words. We say things like, “Well, that won’t work.” or “It’s never happened or worked out before, so it won’t now.” And these lack thoughts are rooted in a lack of self worth. We don’t think we’re worthy of things working out.
- We’re afraid of how we may look if we ask. I don’t just mean looking vulnerable…I mean the times when you are afraid to ask because we think only aggressive bitchy women do such things and we aren’t like them! This comparison is also rooted in lack of self worth.
- We are afraid it will be yes and the idea of stepping into what we really want scares us more than the no, so we don’t do it and instead stay safe and comfortable. This is fear, plain and simple. Fear of our own ideas, our own visibility, our own worth.
Do any of these resonate? I am betting they do.
Our minds have been programmed since we were very young to interpret the words and actions of others according to our stories and so it immediately defaults to those safe spaces.
Recognizing all this is both a vulnerable moment and a powerful moment.
It’s a moment of both reflection and action.
If asking for what you want and need isn’t something that comes easy for you, I want you to spend some time reflecting on why. Here are some prompts to play with.
- What is it that I need? Be specific.
- What if I asked for what I needed?
- What’s the best case scenario?
- How would I feel if this worked out?
- Who would I be if this worked out?
- How would this create change if it worked out?
- What’s the worst case scenario?
- How would I feel if this didn’t work out?
- What is holding me back? Why?
The questions about feelings, about being, and about change are bigger than the thing. That’s because often we say we want ___ and yet what we really desire is something more. I want a promotion and raise. Sure. Maybe though, what you really want is the respect that comes with that.
The thing is we are all works in progress and even the woman who seems to have no trouble asking for something may still be working through some other mindset issue. I was someone who never thought twice about asking for a raise or asking for time off or even telling a few past bosses that I didn’t like for how they treated me and other staff members. But I did hold back in other areas. I put a ceiling on fees I would charge and clients I felt were in my league. I also didn’t know how to ask for the right support because I believed I needed to handle it all.
It catches up to us. These self placed limits keep us small and acting small.
Before I could act from a bigger place though I had to get clear on where I was playing small. I had to work through my old feelings of lack and believe I was worthy of more. That took time and a lot of small steps.
What small step can you take today to build your confidence? To get yourself closer to asking? To get what you really want?
Chrissie DiAngelus is the President & Founder of Art & Connections, a company that launches inspired, purpose-driven women creatives into higher levels of leadership and success. She blends business strategy, arts and a desire to serve into her offerings. Learn more about the company and about Chrissie. Interested in exploring how to work together? Contact Chrissie today.