Wrapped around the axle. Stressed. Unsure. Totally stuck.
Is there a path out?
Yep. There is. And it’s:
Decide what you want.
Ask for it clearly.
Prepare to receive it.
Simple, huh? But, sorry to say, not that easy. You’ve got to do a little work.
For some of you, even saying “decide what you want” makes you break out in hives. Deciding is not altogether comfortable for some folks, especially my people-pleasing friends (hey, girls!). “What if I make a decision that makes people unhappy?” “What if people laugh at my choice?” “What if people think I’m selfish?”
To my people-pleasing friends, who I love and adore, I will ask: Sweetheart, who knows you better than you? Who’s more an expert on you, than you? When you abdicate your decision-making to others, what are you really saying?
Are you really saying you don’t know what’s in your own heart?
We know that’s not true.
I believe you always know what you want. Deep in that darling beating heart, you know. It’s when you’re moving your desire out of your chest into the world that you get off track. You get all self-doubt-y, don’t you? You get squishy. And you hold the desire back.
You hold yourself back.
Believe it or not, I was once in this situation. I know, right? Hard to fathom, but there you have it.
When I made decisions, I was berated, laughed and and penalized. So I sorta, kinda stopped making choices and having preferences. And when I finally realized that I was so unhappy trying to be a complacent concept of who I “should be” – I had to change. Had to. To survive. And I started in smallish kinds of ways (which you can try, too). I started saying, “I’d prefer Thai food for lunch.” Surprisingly, that was hard. I tried saying, “I want to see that Johnny Depp film.” And, over time I got to the big one: I started saying, “no”.
Over time, by making these little statements of preference, I reacquainted myself with…my self. And deciding became a whole lot easier.
It can be that way for you, too.
So, decide what you really want and move on to the next thing: Ask for it clearly.
Again, asking clearly is fraught with challenge for some people (how you doin’, girls?). Recently, a client told me a story you might appreciate: Her boss announced his departure. Several people within the organization approached my client asking if she’d join their department. She had many conversations and was still mulling when one guy announced she was joining his team. “I never agreed!” she said. I asked, “Did you clearly say you needed time? Did you say no?” Sheepish silence. “Well, not clearly, I guess.” As we worked through her part of the conversation, she realized that she hadn’t wanted to disappoint, so hadn’t been as clear as she could have been.
She’ll do it differently next time.
Which is, of course, the promise of clarity.
OK, you’ve done the hard work of deciding what you want and you have asked for it clearly – what does it mean to prepare to receive it?
Just that. Be ready. Keep an eye out. Watch.
Because what you want may come to you in a completely different form than you expect.
You may ask for a raise, and get a whole new job. In a whole new field. You might ask for a boyfriend, and get a husband. A really wonderful man. You might ask for a break – just a freakin’ break – and get a new friend who totally has your back. Forever.
Friends, that’s the way it works.
Decide. Ask. Receive.
Go ahead, give it a try.
Is that your heart I hear calling?