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In this episode of The Optimized Mom Podcast, I chat about how we women often have a hard time asking clearly for what we want. I explore why I think this is, and I give a quick framework designed to help YOU become the hero of your own story and get exactly what you’re looking for.
Note: This transcript was produced using speech-recognition software and has received minimal edits. If possible, I encourage you to listen to the audio version.
Welcome to the Optimized Mom podcast where we explore strategies for trading burnout, overwhelm and exhaustion for simplicity, efficiency and joy. Why? Because I want you to have the time and energy to care for yourself, have fun with your family and share your sparkle with the world.
Hey there, Anissa here and today I wanted to chat about getting what we want. This was inspired by a post in one of my mom’s groups recently. It was actually on Mother’s Day and this woman, I think she was being a little bit cheeky kind of making a joke, but she said something to the effect of I hope that your partner and kids develop mind reading capabilities so that you get exactly what you want for Mother’s Day without having to ask for it. And as I was reading that, I thought, I bet her Mother’s Day was not so happy.
I have been this person, I’ve been the person that puts the people around me in the impossible situation of trying to guess what I want. And I’ve also been on the other end of trying to do what someone else wants while not having any idea what that is.
The situation sucks frankly when we do that and it rubs me the wrong way because it’s not what the hero in a story does. This is definitely more damsel in distress kind of territory than hero territory waiting around and thinking boy, I hope someone comes by and does something and we come by this damsel in distress role. Really, honestly, I mean, we were raised on these stories where life truly starts after the handsome prince arrives. Well, those of us that are of a certain age, I guess kids are getting slightly better stories now think of this.
But regardless of the messages that we’ve gotten, we’re grown now, we don’t need to settle for being the damsel in distress. We can choose instead to be the hero of the story. And the hero or the heroine asks one really important question as they’re going through their journey. And that is what do I want? And when the hero decides what he or she wants, she goes and gets it.
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So we have big examples and small examples of going for what you want. There are important examples and unimportant examples. But let’s put this in the context of Mother’s Day, you know, just for a little silliness. But for Mother’s Day, my best friend asked her husband specifically for an infinity band that had her and her children’s birthstones on it and she’s wearing it.
My college roommate sent screenshots to her husband of the perfume that she wanted and she got it. When my husband suggested that we go out for dinner to celebrate me on Mother’s Day, I told him, “I’m going to be in my bathing suit all day. I don’t want to have to shower and, you know, look presentable and go out.” So he ordered food in. And I had other friends and acquaintances who asked for and got a night alone in a hotel room, who ran a 5K, who went out with their girlfriends for brunch. They got exactly what they wanted because they asked specifically for what they wanted.
Now in our culture, women as a rule have a hard time asking for what they want. And I think there are lots of reasons for this: one is that we are taught not to be selfish. We’re supposed to put our needs below everyone else’s, especially once we’ve had children. So we get in this place where once everything else is taken care of, then maybe we can have what we want. Except even if that magical unicorn day ever came, we would be totally out of practice. By the time we ever got there, we get so used to not having any wants that we can’t often think of any when the time comes to express them.
So then add on to this ‘let’s not be selfish’ thing. We also have this bogus notion that people who love us should somehow just know what we want and that if we have to ask for something, we’re somehow cheapening the gift that results. Now, I don’t know about you, but I personally only know one person who somehow always buys the perfect gift, the thing that you didn’t know that you wanted or that you forgot you talked about when you were in the store six months ago, she buys it in your favorite color and she writes an amazing note to go with it and I consider it to be her superpower.
I, on the other hand, I adore my kids and my husband. I give them hours of my undivided attention every day. I know them better than almost anyone. And I still couldn’t necessarily tell you exactly what they would most like to have right now. Sometimes I’ll give them a surprise that they love and sometimes I’ll give them a surprise that they could take or leave. And most of the time I just ask them what they’d like. And this expectation that others should just know is one of the ways that we make life harder and unhappier for ourselves. And we set the people that we love up for failure.
Another cultural sort of thing that happens that makes it hard to ask for what we want is that we might know what we want and we might even be willing to ask for it. But in the background. we’re secretly judging the thing that we want and deciding that we’re somehow bad for wanting it. You know, this comes up if the thing that you want is expensive and you secretly don’t believe that you’re worth a gift that fancy or maybe for Mother’s Day, for instance, you’ve decided that you really don’t want to see your family at all for 24 hours and that, that would be an awesome celebration. But then you start to feel afraid that you or that someone else might think you’re a bad mom if you express the desire to ever be without your family.
Another thing that sort of gets in the way of us asking for what we want is that we’re afraid of putting ourselves out there and then finding out that the answer is no. Let’s face it asking for what you want–Exactly what you want in clear terms is super scary because there’s a chance that the person you ask could refuse. And then what would that mean about your worth and the quality of your relationship if you asked for something that was super important to you, and the person said, no? this is a trick question by the way, because the answer is it would mean absolutely nothing.
Remember any situation we experience in life is empty of meaning, we give it meaning with the thoughts that we have about it. So in this situation where you’ve asked for something and been refused. And in every other situation that you have, let’s strive to choose the most empowering thoughts possible. I think in general that we enjoy life and our relationships more if we assume that the other person that we’re talking to loves us and wants us to be happy. So just changing your worldview to keep that in mind makes it a lot easier to ask for what you need.
But when you ask vow internally to be ok, even if the answer isn’t what you want, remember that even when our loved ones disagree with us or when they’re “thoughtless”, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love us, know that you can still get what you want. You might just need to find another pathway to get there.
There are infinite pathways to get to any destination. Sometimes we just need to get a little more creative to see them. So if you are in this situation where you are feeling where you’re, you’re like the person I was talking about–the poster, who wishes that someone would telepathically know what she wants and get it for her without her having to put herself out there. Let’s talk about how you can go about getting some of the things that you want–the little small things like a good present on Mother’s Day and the bigger things. Those dreams that are sort of buried deep in your heart.
I have a little, Do It Now, exercise: set a timer for five minutes and just make a list of all of the things that you want right now and don’t censor yourself. It could be anything, material items, new opportunities. You know, somebody else to do something nice for you. Don’t censor anything that appears–nothing’s too expensive. Nothing’s too over the top. Nothing is too impossible. This exercise is just to remind yourself that it’s ok to want things. It’s ok to want more than what you have right now. It’s not selfish. It’s not something that you have to wait for until you earn it or until you deserve it. It’s ok to feel the pull toward something more.
So then when you get your list, look over it, see what’s there. You know, sometimes when we do these little stream-of-consciousness sort of exercises, weird things pop up that we didn’t expect. Look over the list, take it all in and pick something to go for. It could be anything. It could be a really small silly thing but pick something that you’d like to go for first and then decide what you need to get it. You know, is it that, that you need to do something in order to go and get it? Is it an accomplishment that you want to go for and you need to, to add some daily practice of something into your schedule or you need to write a letter or make a phone call or that sort of thing? Is it something that you would like ideally from another person? Ok. Well, then you might have to have a conversation that might feel awkward and scary, but that’s ok. You will live through it, decide what you need to do to get this thing.
And then the next step is to go and take that action, take a teeny tiny, small itty-bitty action to go for it. And then most importantly, if you take that action and that action doesn’t immediately get you what you want or you feel like it’s not moving you in the direction that you want it. Maybe um I don’t know, maybe it was an action that, that involved another person and you asked them and they said, no, don’t automatically assume that that takes that thing off of the table.
You know, there are a million pathways that you could go on from this moment. And as the hero of your story, as the creator of the narrative, now you have free reign to choose one of the infinite pathways that is in front of you. You know, the first idea didn’t work. And so now you’re gonna go try again whether that’s with having another conversation or whether that’s with pursuing a, a different route to that thing that you want, assume that whatever you want, you can have as long as you make your time frame long enough and you keep your mind and your heart open for possibilities and you’re willing to continue to put yourself out there and work and go for it.
And this is going to help you whether what you’re trying to get, like I said just a really good Mother’s Day present or whether this is getting something really, really huge. You have the power to get anything that you want. You just have to be willing to go out there and ask for it and then go get it. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.