I love this little face – ok, not so little face – but her pink face is loved.
Except at 3 am when she decides she has been neglected enough and wants out of her kennel and cuddles, dammit! Don’t we know how neglected and unloved she is?!!
Needless to say, I’ve been up since 3 am when I finally let her come into bed with us because her barking and yowling were already keeping me up. I figured letting her come to bed would let me go back to sleep.
Nope. I was awake.
Needless to say, I am feeling a tad hungover – from insomnia more than anything else. Of course, as I read some place, the fastest way to fall asleep when you have insomnia, is right before the alarm goes off. Yeah. I fell asleep 20 min before the alarm went off. I think that made it worse.
Asking seems to be a popular theme these days. Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking”. The CIO just sent out that he’s reading a book called “The Small BIG” by Robert Cialdini which seems to revolve around the small act of asking that can have big effects. Very much like Amanda Palmer’s point.
I think some people see asking as simple things – simple acts that if they do, they get what they want. Asking is hard. Asking is worry that you are putting someone out – worry that you are stressing someone out – worry that you’ll be told “no” – and that “no” has some direct correlation to your worth to the person you are asking.
Asking is taking a risk – a risk of hearing “no” – a risk of being perceived as weak – a risk of being seen as lesser than others in value, in intellect, in ability to handle things. Asking is fucking hard because it means setting aside the ego – and saying “I need…”.
The CIO shared his latest book find in his weekly newsletter that he calls his “blog via email”. And what struck me was the study he talks about in the book. Two social scientists found that we are afraid to ask for help because we often think in terms of time, effort, and/or money if the person we are asking says “yes”. That study hit it on the head for me.
Yes, I can go straight for my job – where everything I do revolves around scope, schedule, and performance. Translation: Time, effort, money, and scope. Can you do this for me? Yes, I can do it but this is what it will take. That is typical IT behavior in terms of negotiating.
But it goes deeper than that for me. Asking when I was growing up was rarely something I did. Asking for help with homework was one thing. But asking for money for something? No fucking way. Asking was already going to result in a “no” because there was no extra money for things – but also, my parents realizing that as they were saying “no” also made them feel bad because they felt like they should have money for things.
Asking for time? That was a crap shoot. While they would also give time to attend an event and such, there were certain things that always take priority even of the kids. Usually it was all job related stuff because, well, see money comment in the previous paragraph.
It is, to this day, why if someone asks “what do you want for Christmas or your birthday?” I don’t know what to ask for. There was no point in asking because asking created stress. I learned that early and often when I was young. Sadly, it has stuck with me as an adult.
As I got older, I found few people in my world would even make time for me if I needed it – if I asked for it. My best friend throughout school – a wonderful guy who I am still friends with to this day – he was the exception. He gave as much as he asked for. Call him even in college to say “I need an ear” and he was all over it. Funny how few people are like that.
In my adult like, asking got me called “unqualified to do my job” when I was a totally a newbie and my mentor was far from a mentor and hated questions. Hated helping. “Go figure it out” was her mantra. Asking her a question – or for help – or for a clue to solve an issue – was not something I did often. As a result, I rarely asked questions and got good at figuring shit out by myself and online.
Asking for what I need emotionally has gotten me called selfish at times when I hit a point in my adulthood where I said “fuck-it – I’m asking.” I’m selfish for needing connection time with a friend. I’m selfish for saying “I need a night out”. I’m selfish for saying “I need to hear that all is okay between us”. I’m selfish for expressing my need.
So, I stopped asking. Selfish is quite the shame word.
Also, as an adult, the simple act of asking for someone’s time or presence in my life has been met with “sure, oh, maybe another time” so many freaking times – I stopped asking people to meet up for an evening of talking and drinks. Hearing excuses every freaking time makes someone stop asking – stop putting forth the effort. Ironically those who noticed, never saw the connection between their continued response in the negative with the reason I stopped asking.
What is ironic is that I’m someone most people have no problem asking things of.
And I have no issue with being asked because if I can – I will help. If I can’t, I’ll figure something else out. Because I know big things can happen with a small ask. I have seen it. I have seen how people can thrive in a new job if it is okay to ask for help. I have seen people get the confidence they need because someone said “yes” to something important to them, something that is very much a reflection of self, therefore risky to put out there. I have seen people crawl out of the hole they are in simply because hearing “yes” gave them the hope they needed.
So I guess that is my motivation today, dear reader –
To be less afraid to ask. To not let the ghost from your past keep you from asking. And be willing to receive what you are asking for knowing it is a gift, not a flippant gesture.
And to consider saying “yes” to an ask. To look at the person asking and know it is not easy to ask – know the person asking is facing fears doing it. Consider giving them the gift of a “yes”, if you will.