The answer is always no…unless you ask: Ask what you want from life, NOW!

Have there ever been times in your life where you thought, “Darn! Why didn’t I ask about that?!” and potentially missed out on a great opportunity? Chances are, you will answer yes to that question. Many opportunities in life and love are missed because people simply just don’t ask the questions they need to!

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I had never heard the powerful phrase “The answer is always no unless you ask” before. It was only after talking to the wisest individual that I know, my father, that he made that comment in reference to something we were discussing.

That very short, yet extremely powerful phrase, has stuck with me now for years and I think at this point I have completely internalized that concept—attempting to live my life with that mindset.

What is it about for human beings that asking for what we want out of life makes us uncomfortable?! I say ‘human beings’ very generally because the majority of clients, friends, and colleagues that I have come into contact with struggle with being able to directly ask for what they want.

 

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You may be making eye contact, but are you asking for what you want?

Whether it’s asking out the girl of your dreams or asking if you can move into the vacant corner office at work, people struggle with advocating for themselves. I asked the question about what makes it difficult to ask for what we want and I believe that across the board the answer would be: a fear of rejection.

Although advocating for yourself is very powerful, the fear of rejection for many trumps the powerfulness of being your own best representative. So how do you make it through life asking for what you want while also dealing with the possibility of the answer actually being “no”?

When asking for what you want:

1. Be prepared with logical data. Say you’re starting a cupcake business and what you’re wanting to ask is as simple as trying to price your cupcakes—essentially asking the public to purchase your product. Do a market analysis of the other bakeries in the area to assess what the average price of baked goods is. Are the ingredients you use unique to your store? Have you received specialized culinary training and currently utilize a technique no one else does? If you decide to price your cupcakes higher than the average in your area, be prepared to back up your reasons why.

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2. Don’t take it personally if someone asks you why you are asking for what you’re asking for. Have that logical data in mind at all times, that’s why I made it number one on my list.

Recently I was selling a 16 by 20 inch piece of art that I painted and a customer asked me how I got to the sale price number that I did. I was able to break it down piece by piece, remaining calm and transparent, and outline the cost of materials, labor, and a small commission I add on. Her response was “I never had any clue as to how artists priced their work. I thought they just came up with a number!” And guess what? She bought the painting.

You cannot take a lot of things personally when people ask you how and why you are running your business the way that you are. Unless they are personally attacking you, business is business. If someone is paying you for a service, they deserve to be told the how and why of what they’re paying for.

3. Use emotions sparingly. Pick and choose who you decide to show your emotions to when attempting to ask what you want out of life. You’re not talking to your therapist (unless you are!) so remain professional and cool-headed at all times. Be assertive but definitely not aggressive.

These very tactics could be applied when having a conversation with your spouse. Learn to clearly communicate your wants and desires from the relationship in a way that elicits open communication and does not turn into a rage session where one or both parties loses their cool.

4. Just ask for what you want. Do you have a question on your mind? Do you have expectations and want to see if the other person is on the same page? Be tactfully direct as I like to call it and just ask your question. So you’re looking for an office for your mental health practice but you notice there is not enough space for your groups to be held? Ask the owner if you can utilize the conference room twice a week! Try to make the situation work for everyone, but especially in your favor. Never ever assume that someone else knows what you want or what you are thinking.

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So what happens if the answer is no?

1. You have the choice to move on. I strongly believe in working very hard to get what you want, but everything that happens in life happens for a reason.

So you decide to ask Kara out? Finally. After working up your nerve for 2 months of being friends. And she says no. Guess what?! It’s okay. You can’t convince another person to be romantically interested in you so consider this a favor. You can still be friends but you can also walk away knowing that you asked what you wanted, are free from that weird romantic tension that happens when you’re “just friends”, and can continue to look for The One that wants you back! As they should!

2. In business, sometimes you have to cut ties and make it happen on your own terms. Don’t like the way the accounting firm you work for treats the employees or pays you? If you’ve been in the biz long enough, have the know-how on running an accounting firm, then who’s to say that you can’t put yourself out to the universe (with careful planning) and start your own firm? I don’t mean to trivialize this concept, starting a business takes a lot of work. But it CAN be done.

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3. Focus on becoming a better communicator. Not that you were unable to clearly communicate your needs, but effectively communicating should be a constant goal to strive for. Being an excellent communicator will do nothing but serve you well. I have never ever heard someone be criticized for being a great communicator. Think about it. Focus on the skills that you need to have in order to excel and be able to get what you want from life.

4. Learn to walk away from a situation knowing that you accomplished something. You asked for what you wanted! Realize that you were able to powerfully advocate for something that you wanted. Maybe the powers that be did not want you to have whatever it is that you were asking for, so instead of viewing this as the ultimate rejection, realize that maybe your Higher Power was looking out for you.

5. Reframe every rejection as a learning experience. Learn from what happened. How did it make you feel? How did you deal with things not happening the way you wanted them to? What is in your immediate control that will be able to help you achieve what you want in your future? Stay in the here and now and seek resolution within yourself. Remaining self aware on how the experience is affecting you is instrumental in recovery.

 

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Find peace and learn from every situation you encounter. Typically with time, you will be able to gain a clearer understanding of why something happened…

Tying it all together…

People are not mind readers, an old adage that remains ever-presently true. Unless we ask for what we want out of life, the answer will always be no. If you are okay with missing out on adventures and prime opportunities by remaining silent, then be my guest—a lot of times this does happen to be the safer route. But if you have noticed a pattern of missing out or feeling like there is more out there, maybe it’s time to start verbally articulating what you want from others and life!

We can’t assume that everyone has our best interests at heart or knows what we want.  As much as I strive to remain the eternal optimist, time and time again, life has shown me that other folks will take advantage of niceness…and silence. Learn to advocate for yourself. If you’re not making the choices and asking for what you want in life, then who is?

Being the best version of yourself will take you out of your comfort zone, yet being uncomfortable is sometimes the necessary ingredient in helping us grow. I challenge you to think of one aspect of your life that you want something to be different. Mull on it for a few days, coming up with your game plan of logical data and reasoning and then…GASP!….ask for it! 😉

See what happens..

Empowering you to ask for what you want and deserve out of life today and everyday,

Rachel Ann

If the shoe fits…4 ways to find the right therapist for you

Choosing a counselor that is right for you is a lot like finding the right pair of shoes. And one size does not fit all in the case of finding the mental health therapist that is right for you. What works for one person will absolutely not work for another. Consider the shoe shopping analogy. When you’re shoe shopping, you’re going to go for the shoe that you feel comfortable with, has a style that suits you, incites creativity and inspiration, and will sustain the wear for the long haul.

 

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See? More than one style to fit more than one person…

 

Most people aren’t going to think twice about not buying a pair of shoes that pinches toes and has heels so high that you can’t walk a step in them, right!? So why should finding a therapist be any different?

Let’s tease apart these details a little further as there are definitely the do’s and don’ts of finding a therapist/counselor that suits you.

1. No matter what, you must feel comfortable with your therapist. Your therapist is someone that you will be {read should be} telling your innermost thoughts to. Your therapist should not: be judgmental, rigid, and or tell you what you should do.

Good therapists are not advice givers. Good therapists recognize that their client is their own best expert and knows what they need to do, although talking about it with a trusted source is how the healing begins and the decision processes occur.

Your therapist should never judge you or make you feel less than because they disagree with something that you have said or done. Therapists should recognize that humans will make mistakes and have difficult decisions to make—and continue to show support throughout.

2. Your therapist should have a therapeutic and interpersonal style that resonates with you. I’ll use myself as an example. By nature, I am quiet in my tone and assertive in my communication, but not aggressive. I would never do well with a therapist that was forceful or overbearing. Some individuals prefer the more forceful “tell me what to do approach” but I know myself enough to know that I would never go back if a therapist was loud and aggressive with me. If you enjoy a sense of humor or a truly authentic person that will curse in front of you and tell you how messed up the world is—then these are the traits that your therapist should have.

If you cannot relate to someone on an interpersonal level, your therapist and you will not be successful. Therapy is a human centered business. Underneath it all, we all have struggles and it’s important for you to find that counselor who is able to communicate the most effectively with you. And has an interpersonal style that matches your personal preference.

3. Your therapist should help to inspire you. Inspiration occurs when a new idea is brought forth to you, you totally “get” it, and you feel inspired to be a better mom, dad, sister, aunt—person. Maybe your therapist validates your feelings of how difficult and tiring motherhood is, but is able to point out all of your successes in raising your son. This very interaction could ultimately be enough for you to realize what a valuable asset you are and thus propel—aka inspire—you to be the best mom that you can be for your son.

See, therapists have this unique ability to “plant the seed” in their clients. They can tell you a tiny fact that that you may or may not have known about yourself and from that tiny seed grows a beautiful flower. And the beauty of hearing it from someone you’re not related to or friends with is meaningful in itself.

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4. Your therapist should be in the therapeutic process with you for the long haul…or until your insurance runs out…! Unfortunately most people cannot afford to attend therapy unless their insurance pays for it—and most managed care companies only allot 6-12 sessions annually. With this being said, your therapist should be someone that is truly working with you, not just telling you what you want to hear, or endlessly scratching notes on a yellow legal pad as you spill your life story and current issues.

Your therapist should not “shy away” from the difficult stuff that you bring to the table. Therapists should take responsibility for choosing this profession and be open to hearing some of the very hard, traumatic details of you—their client’s—life. Burnout in the counseling profession is a very real phenomenon and counselors must take the steps necessary for their own self-care so that they may best help you move forward and heal.

Tying it all together…

Please realize that you always have the option to bow out of receiving individual counseling from a particular therapist if the two of you truly are not jiving on a core level (I’m not referring to an instance where you may not like something your therapist said-tell them why you didn’t like it! I’m referring to a deeper experience of just really not caring for the person you’re about to go bare your soul to).

For example, maybe you can’t put your finger on it but your gut instinct is that you don’t care for them. If you go into a session knowing that you’re not a fan of your therapist, how do you think you’re going to be able to effectively process and work through what you need to?!

Never sell yourself short throughout the process of finding and working with a therapist. As you change, your needs may change and you may have outgrown your current counselor. Maybe you want to reduce your sessions from once a week, to once a month, to once every three months for a periodic check in. Your therapist should not take this personally.

Choose a therapist that causes you to feel comfortable, is easy to talk to, and is focused on you in the session. Therapy is not about the therapist and what they have overcome, how they solved a problem, etc. Therapy is your time to shine so to speak. The therapy session is a sacred place for you to go when you need feedback, evidence based techniques for healthy living/sorting out a problem, or quite simply— to feel HEARD.

I believe that therapy is one of the most healthy, self-indulgent (in the most positive sense of the word!) and glorious experiences that a person can have. How often in life do you get a full 50 minutes to an hour block of time where you are able to talk openly and completely about yourself, your dreams, your triumphs, your progress, your hopes, your fears, your experiences?

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come strength”. –Sigmund Freud

Find the therapist that speaks to you on a deeper level. Just like in any other relationships you have in life, don’t settle. You deserve more.

Wishing you supportive therapy today and everyday should you so choose to partake in the process,

Rachel Ann