Cultivating New Beliefs So You Can Ask Scary Questions
On the same day that I celebrated a client asking for what she wanted (and getting it), I failed to ask for what I wanted. (Oh, the irony...)
After making the commitment to join Ascend, this woman mentioned to me that she wanted to ask her employer to pay for the experience. Given what the program offers to high achieving women, and how it translates over to career, made total sense to ask.
But, you know that fear of rejection…it’s REAL.
While she believed in the idea, she was nervous to ask. She started to question her worthiness and even talked herself out of asking for a minute. But after a conversation (and a little pep talk) she decided to go for it. And, as I mentioned, the answer was a resounding YES!
If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
I know all too well the feelings associated with having hard conversations like this, and I also know how valuable they are to our overall growth. If we want to get past the feeling of being “stuck” or we want to avoid settling, the only way we can level up and continue to grow is to do things that feel uncomfortable.
My own failure to ask for what I need usually happens in relationships (so many narratives I’m working on in this area), and my current one is no exception.
Unlike my client, I avoided the hard conversation and it resulted in my own secret anger and frustration. I won’t get into all the details (because they are none of your business!), but what I do want to share is why it’s so important to go to that vulnerable place even (or especially) when it feels really effing scary.
Anger and resentment. If you don’t vocalize what it is you need and/or want, you will experience anger and resentment towards the other party (and it isn’t even their fault). I hear this all the time. People are carrying around so much anger towards their employer or their significant other or friend and most of the time the people on the receiving end were never even given a chance.
We walk through life assuming everyone can read our minds, but they can’t. Most of the time we have just as much responsibility for the poor communication as the other party. We have to do the hard work and have the uncomfortable conversations so that our needs get met. We have to go to that really icky vulnerable place and ask for support. We cannot blame another if we don’t do that - not a significant other, a family member, a friend or a colleague/boss.
Take the risk to create a new belief. When we fear rejection, or lack confidence, a few things are at play. Feeling like we can’t ask for what we want usually stems from a very familiar (negative) belief we have about ourselves or a situation. Whatever narrative we have, we look for evidence to support this belief and re-enforce why we are acting (or not acting) in a particular way. The more evidence we can pull up, the stronger our case.
While I love the “power of positive thinking” strategy, simply trying to convince ourselves of something we don’t believe doesn’t work (cause, evidence), but creating a new belief that we can buy into does. (It takes work though.)
For me, one of my old narratives is, “I can’t use my voice in relationships”. Telling myself the opposite of this statement, “I’m an amazing communicator and not afraid to use my voice” would be tough to wrap my head around based on past evidence. However, right now I can believe the statement, “I can have a conversation and say how I feel”. That neutral shift in thinking not only pulls me out of the negative thought pattern, it gave me the confidence to have the tough conversation and ultimately ask for what I want/need. (If you want to know the ending, I was not rejected.)
We have to create a new belief about ourselves in order to act in a different way and, as a result, create new evidence that supports the new belief. (Our brain is a pain in the ass, I‘ve told you this.)
You’re worth it. If you’re questioning whether this statement is true, I get it. But listen to me, you are. Maybe you don’t believe it today, but deep down in there you know that you are valuable to the people in your life. If you struggle with this one, practice the process I shared with you above. Grab a sheet of paper and right down all the criticisms you have of yourself. Then on the other side, create a counter belief (that’s neutral) so you can make the shift.
That’s step one in a process I take clients through to begin to cultivate confidence, challenge that shit-talking brain, and begin believe in their worth. It isn’t easy, your brain will fight you tooth and nail, but if practiced regularly - it’s a game changer. As an athlete, this has always been part of my process and I use it A LOT in my own life and in my work with high performers.
There is always a risk in asking for what we want, but the potential reward is so much greater. If you work to gain the confidence in yourself and create new beliefs, you will begin to get more comfortable using your voice and showing up 100% YOU.
And think of it this way, if you do ask and get rejected the only thing that happens is you’ve added another piece of evidence to the file you’ve got tucked away. You can still keep practicing creating new beliefs.
Is there something you’ve been too scared to ask for? Try this technique out and let me know how it goes.