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Ask For What You Want – Part 1

ask_for_what_you_want_part1Asking for what we want is something we all must learn how to do-which is interesting, because we have been practicing since we could talk. You may not remember this, but the first two words you learned after Mama and Dada were probably “I want”. As children we are eager to tell others what we want.  We see a dog or a cat or a butterfly or chocolate or a toy and we want it! It’s all so lovely, and exciting! This is the life! Unfortunately, our parents probably got exasperated with our zest for life, and had negative reactions to our demands.  As we got older, they gave us the message (intended or not) that it was wrong to want and it was wrong to ask.  It wasn’t nice.

And now we are grown up, and most of us are not entirely comfortable with having wants and desires.  We are not sure what to do with them, so we repress them.  They haven’t gone away; they have just gone underground.  Now they are like organized crime – active, but outside of our control and regulation.  We still feel bad about asking, and we feel hurt when we don’t get what we want.  It is easy to understand why the Buddhists say that desire is the problem.  Just get rid of it!  I think we should make friends with it first.

When we understand that wants and desires are there for a reason, and they aren’t wrong, or selfish, we can develop a better relationship with ourselves and others. The first step is to know what you want. Don’t push it underground anymore.  It could contain a valuable message.  Contrary to our previous understanding, it is not selfish to want something and to acknowledge it – it is selfish to refuse to be accountable to your own life. You are here for a reason!  And if we think about it, people we have known who repress their wants, and don’t acknowledge them drive other people crazy.  They expect others to figure out what they want and try to deliver it to them.  Unfortunately, others almost always get it wrong, and then they have to feel like they have failed.  It wasn’t their job to begin with!

If you have repressed your wants for awhile, it may seem strange to welcome them back into your life.  Please be kind and patient with yourself and others as you learn to listen—and to respect what you want.