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

Why is facing reality so hard? The how and why of avoidant behaviors

“Face your fears. Know what you’re realistically capable of. Create a reality you love.”

Life is peppered with these statements from well-meaning folks, myself included. While these saying are meant to encourage and motivate, facing reality continues to be a struggle for many.

 

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Just because you look away, doesn’t mean it’s not happening…

 

What is it about “facing the music” that causes people to run? To indulge in too much alcohol so that they don’t have to face reality and instead, be numbed out for a while? To self-sabotage healthy relationships so that they don’t have to face the reality of being a part of a part of a healthy union? To flat out shut down and refuse to talk about the issues that need to be addressed the most because you think that avoidance will cause disappearance?

Let me remind you. Avoiding an issue does not cause it to go away. In fact, avoiding your truth, your reality, is a surefire way to prolong the inevitable and cause tension within yourself and others.

 “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

Reality is avoided because it means we must be the best version of ourselves and own up to our mistakes however humbling that process may be. And quite frankly, people don’t want to have to 1) be the best version of themselves or 2) own up to their mistakes. Thus avoidance enters the picture.

I once knew a woman that absolutely recognized that there were issues in her marriage. She was able to cite these problems to me and anyone else that would listen. However, she was not able to address them with the person that she needed to the most: her husband. Instead, they skirted around the issues, swept their problems under the proverbial carpet, and consequently became more and more distant from one another. What happened with this marriage? It disintegrated and resulted in divorce. All because both partners avoided the issues at home at all cost. Their work lives maintained, yet their relationship died and they both talked about feeling a loss, a sense of profound sadness in their personal life because the relationship was no more.

Owning our reality is uncomfortable. Reality is allowing life to be exactly what it is, no rose-colored glasses or avoidant behaviors in place. And I’ve noticed that people do not like this unglamorous, real-life way of living.

Sure, accepting reality is difficult, but the end result is one that so far outweighs the feelings of uncomfortableness that if most people knew that truth, they would wonder why they ever waited so long to accept the reality of their current situation.

When you accept reality, relationships will change. And in turn, facing reality will cause you to change! When you are able to see your relationships for what they are and begin to see yourself in the natural light of day, your relationships will naturally become more authentic because you are not living in a façade of make-believe.

When you are more authentic and self-aware, you will be able to observe how your interactions with others make you feel, gaining confidence in your ability to be discerning.

Avoidance is a technique that temporarily alleviates pain or discomfort. Ultimately, avoidance becomes almost a defense mechanism to protect yourself from the truth.

So you find out your partner is cheating yet you continue to live like nothing has happened? Avoidance can be used here to save face for the kids, to keep up public personas, and to attempt to maintain normalcy, yet this kind of behavior can only continue for so long. Maybe the very act of avoidance is causing you to drink alcohol more often or spend more time away from the house because you can’t handle the stress. Either way, the situation is not healthy.

Living in make-believe land is only a temporary reprieve from everyday stress.

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Consider the aspects in your life where you have either consciously or unconsciously avoided the truth.

What would it be like for you to accept reality?

How would it change your life to admit that you are in an unhealthy situation/relationship/lifestyle?

In what ways would you have to make self-improvements once you accept reality?

Realize that the only person that can accept your reality is you. And likewise, the only person that you can control is yourself. If you are not living your truth, if you are not currently living the reality that you want to, then you have to be the one to make healthy changes. No one else will make the changes for you.

Accepting reality is accepting yourself in all the best and worst parts. While the process can be humbling and cause you to face parts of yourself that aren’t your favorite, it is necessary and if utilized correctly, can be life-changing.

Recognize when you are using avoidance behaviors in an effort to not face reality. Make the decision to be cognizant of truths and even better, seek truth in your everyday existence.

“Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.”
― George Orwell, 1984

Be the best version of yourself that you can be, today and everyday.

Wishing you success in accepting reality and seeking truth daily,

Rachel Ann