On Asking and Receiving

Asking is a big deal for a lot of women. 

And when I say big deal, I mean, a lot of women abhor asking for what they want. I note that If a woman has difficulty asking for what she wants, she will most certainly struggle with receiving. 

If you are a woman who struggles with asking and/or receiving, if you are a woman who considers yourself a "giver" but you don't like to take from others or if you are a woman who is chronically underpaid or you don't have enough work coming to you in your business - you are going to want to consider learning the art of asking (and gracious receiving). 

The Art of the Ask

From sex, to asking men to step off and leave you alone, to asking for the raise, the job, psychic space - whatever it is you want, you really must ask for it and ask clearly. I know this from inviting the women I work with to strengthen the skill of asking and also from my own experience and discomfort around asking. I believe there are ways in which we've been told subtly (or directly) that asking is dangerous. 

If I ask for what I want sexually, will he think I'm a slut? If I ask the man to leave me alone, will he attack me? If I ask for the raise, will they think I'm arrogant? If I ask for space, will they think I'm selfish? If I ask for the money I'm worth, will they think I'm greedy or worse, laugh at me? 

It seems to me that we are entrained to NOT ask and yet, the truth is, you will rarely (I won't say never because there are those moments...) get what you want unless two conditions are met: 

  1. You know what you want.
  2. You ask clearly for what you want. 

Interlude for What If's

But what if they say no? What if they disapprove? What if they don't like me anymore? 

Here's some tough love, but I know you can take it, because you're still reading. 

If there is any response other that a big hell yes, so what? Yes, it will likely sting and you are now a fully grown woman. If they say no, if they disapprove, if they don't like you, if, if, if, then your work is to decide what you are going to do. Not to placate or soothe, or god forbid, apologize to the person who didn't like your request -  your work is to be there for you. To go look for another job, to find friends and lovers that support you and your desires, to keep asking if it's that important and to educate the loved ones who don't understand why you want what you want (or walk away, your choice.)

Asking takes Gumption

Asking clearly is a skill that I invite all of my clients to take to heart as a serious invitation to claiming inner authority. There is no better opportunity to understand why you don't ask, why you don't get the raise, or the job or the dessert you really want - all the self-doubt and social conditioning will come roaring to the surface when you say yes to learning to ask. 

None of that needs to stop you from asking. You don't have to feel 100% aligned with your ask. You don't have to wait for the planets to align or your heart to feel just so. You can feel the fear and ask and then you can ask again. 

This is a secret: Your energy, your feelings, your ANYTHING is not a condition that can stop you from asking for what you want. I would suggest that alignment, joy, or feelings of readiness are preferences you have - of course you want to feel aligned and awesome when you are asking for what you want! But it's not necessary. In fact, asking itself operates like magic: as you ask, it gets easier. As you let asking be your teacher, the bullshit self-doubt falls away and your energy, feelings and All the Magical Things line up. Voila!

Bonus Secret: If you aren't feeling it and you find yourself talking about energy and timing being off and planetary configurations... either set that shit aside, make space for what you want and ask or be honest with yourself about why you aren't willing to make the ask. Own your experience. 

As challenging as the ask can feel - that's really the easy part, sister. Receiving is the real ass-kicker. 

Opening to Receive

For those of us with less than ideal circumstances growing up, this can seem totally crazy. Opening to receive? Fuck that. We all know what that entails. NOT getting what you want, being shamed, being alone, or worse, really getting hurt. 

And this. This is what you will have to face when you start asking - all those scared, ashamed, suspicious parts of you that are scared shitless to open to any kind of receiving. And as shaky as it feels to turn and face these demons head-on with ferocity and infinite love? It is way suckier to go lay down in a corner and give up on what you really want. 

Very Important Things to Remember

1. You are Capable of Saying No

It's important to soothe that scared part of you that thinks All the Bad Things will come to you if you ask for anything. Take a deep breath and give yourself a hug, sister. You get to say no. If you ask for something and what arrives to you isn't what you want? You get to say no, thank you. Not what I wanted. 

When I was looking for places to live when we were unexpectedly relocating to Colorado instead of Africa, I made some really specific asks of my networks. I was offered homes in places I didn't want to live. I was offered shitty apartments that wouldn't be suited for a homeless person. I was offered advice on getting the military base involved.

The answer to all of that? Thank you so much, but no thank you. Not what I asked for. 

I bumped up against all of my, "OH MY GOD THEY ARE GOING TO THINK I AM SUCH AN UNGRATEFUL BITCH." and also the fear that I might not get what I wanted. Yep, maybe. I had to be ready for all of that. What I knew I wasn't going to do under any circumstances was say yes to something just because it had been offered to me. So I breathed deeply, I cried a lot and went for lots of hikes and decided to keep asking for what I really wanted.

2. Being a perpetual "giver" isn't usually about generosity

Here's the thing. There are those of you who are givers, and I love that about you. I still want you to learn how to receive because having an aversion to receiving, and always wanting to be in a position of giving isn't really about being a super generous human. In my experience, the desire to always be the giver is about two things: controlling the situation and not owing anyone anything. When it comes to giving away your work for free or mostly free, it may also have to do with the way you receive and understand your own value. So in all cases I would say that being a perpetual giver (without the equal and opposite capacity to receive) is about safety, control and self-protection. 

Remember: you are a grown woman who can handle criticism, who isn't responsible for everyone else and actually, you can't control anything but yourself - so I'm asking you to let that shit go, honey. It's exhausting. 

So how do you start, you know, receiving?

Well first you gotta know what you want and make the ask!! Practice getting really clear on what you want and asking for it. Then you get to practice opening yourself up wide to answers, gifts, and other yesses that may be arriving (which can be really uncomfortable - so lean in, get cozy and breathe into the discomfort. You are learning how to do something new). I would also add that it's possible to get so hyper-focused on the outcome you want, that you could fail to see the way that you are being showered with the support and love and abundance that you are really seeking in your ask. Remember: you have the power to say no to anything that comes your way that doesn't fit the bill for you - there is always more, different, better. You get to decide what you receive. 

Receiving, ultimately, is about saying yes to  the innate pleasure and joy of living. Actually enjoy the incredible pleasures of your life right this second. The smell of sun-kissed trees. The soft sheets on your bed. The couch you love. The water you bathe or swim in sliding over your skin. The breath that travels in and out of your body. The people who love you and laugh with you. The exquisite strength of your body. The food you eat. The money that buys that food. The balances of your bank account. The clients you adore working with. Take it in. Feel it. Sense it. Taste it. Don't just say thank you, receive it through your skin, through your vision, through your touch, through every fiber of your being. Take this in: it's your life. Very few people actually receive the vast ocean of pleasure and abundance that they already swim in. 

{Again, this can trigger all that old stuff around worthiness, shame, fear, etc.. Don't let that stop you. Feel it. Cry it out. Write it out. Hike it out. Bless that part of you and keep coming back to receiving until it's just part of your nature.}

Keep practicing, keep leaning into your edges. Everyone, all the time, everywhere is practicing. So keep going, keep leaning into your edges of discomfort with asking and receiving. Affirm your right to ask for what you want, affirm your right to receive your life with pleasure. Stop with the bullshit stories because here is the truest thing I can tell you in this moment: life is all about this endless exchange of energy, the inhalation and exhalation of the world, the cycle of death and rebirth, the joy of giving and receiving.  

This is your birthright, sister.

Ask for what you want, and open to receive.  Your deepest delight and pleasure awaits. 

So tell me, what are you ready to ask for? What are you open to receive? 

xoxo.nona