Ask for what you want.
Does that statement make you cringe? If you’re anything like me, it probably does or has in the past.
Here’s the deal: asking for what you want isn’t selfish. It isn’t arrogant. It isn’t needy. And it certainly doesn’t take anything away from your loved ones.
I hate pickles (on a burger) and mustard. I am one of those picky eaters and when there are crunchy things mixed in with my soft(er) things, it really messes with my taste buds. I know the texture of something shouldn’t affect the taste, but I literally can’t stand the texture on my tongue. If you’re a picky eater, you can probably relate. Regardless, anytime I would order a burger, I would always ask for it without onions (that one is non-negotiable for me). But, the burger would still come with ketchup, mustard, and you guessed it – pickles. I didn’t mind terribly because I could deal with the taste of the mustard and easily pick off the pickles. Never mind the mess on my fingers when I’d open the burger in the car, pick up a few pickle slices and swoop it across the top of my burger to get rid of the damn mustard that I simply couldn’t ask for them to leave off it in the first place. So, now I am left with a burger that doesn’t have as much ketchup as I would like (most of it inevitably comes off with the mustard), still has a mustard taste (you can’t get rid of that shit that easily) and there are remnants of pickle juice soaked into the bun.
Why? Because I didn’t want to inconvenience the damn cook at the restaurant.
Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is.
I was already asking the cook to leave off the onions. Wouldn’t I be making his or her job easier by asking them for less “things” on the burger? Eventually, I started to realize how silly this was and I now ask for “only ketchup” on my burgers.
What changed? I started to love myself again. My codependent habits, like not asking for what I wanted, started to fade. I began to catch myself when I didn’t stand up for myself in this simple way. Eventually, the awareness of it overpowered the habit of it and now, almost always, I ask for what I want.
If you’re like me and have been working really hard at not inconveniencing anyone (we’ll call it inconveniencing but what you are asking for is most likely NOT an inconvenience at all), I want you to know that by taking back your power and asserting yourself, you can have what you want. But, if you are unwilling to ask, you will NEVER get what you want.
We can be assertive and kind at the same time. There is no need to be a jerk.
But, you must stand up for yourself. We cannot expect others to know what we want if we don’t tell them.
This ability to stand up for yourself will serve you well in other areas of life too, not just at the restaurant. Say it’s date night. You are thinking you’d really like to hit up the new Italian restaurant. But, you don’t say a thing to your husband. Instead, you do that thing that women tend to do (he should KNOW what you want, right?! – no judgment here, I’ve been that girl, too!). When he asks where you’d like to go, you simply say, “I don’t really care. It’s up to you.” So, he chooses Mexican and it’s okay but you can’t help but feel a little disappointed that you didn’t get the Italian that you really wanted.
Are you following the complete nonsense of this? I hope so.
So, on Sunday you are at your whit’s end and frustrated because all weekend long, you never got what you wanted (Italian) and you definitely haven’t mentioned it (after all, he should know) so the anger and resentment have been building. Your fuse is so short you can’t run away from it. You snap at every little thing and when the hubs is watching football on Sunday and you are washing dishes, you lose your shit. All of it.
Let me ask you this: Was any of this your husband’s fault? Of course not, but in the moment, it sure seems like it is.
So, how do we do this differently?
Start asking for what you want. Don’t filter it to sound soft (“Well, I’d really like Italian but I know you’ve had a rough day so whatever you decide is fine. . .” NO. None of that. At least not while you are practicing this skill.). If you are worried about what someone in your life will think, tell them what you are doing and why it is important. If they love you, as I’m sure they do (who wouldn’t?!), they will support you and even help you on this journey.
Try it. Catch yourself when you slip and start over. Do it over and over again until you feel confident you’ve got it down. You’ll slip. We’re human. That’s what we do. Just get back up and try it again the next shot you get. I’m here cheering you on.