“I can’t believe they would ask me.” How often do you hear it, say it, or think it? You are not alone.
I hear clients, friends, and family members alike occasionally share these words with frustration. I find myself thinking and saying it sometimes too. When I do, this is what I notice is happening for me:
- I start to feel responsible for something that may not be my responsibility.
- My unwillingness to ask does not make it unfair for this person to do so.
- My boundaries may need clarification and upholding.
When someone asks something of you or me, we may not be responsible for meeting that need. Issues also arise when I think I need to answer immediately, or somehow help the person get what they need. It does not mean we do not care. It does mean that we must interrupt whatever we might be working on to help. Of course, if it really is an emergency, let yourself be interrupted. Most of the time that is not the case. I get to think about the request, and say, “let me think about that.” I may also outright say, “yes,” “no,” or offer something else instead.
It helps me to clarify what the person seeks, and when they hope to receive it. Depending on the request, I may also question what steps, if any, the person will take themselves.
When frustration results from the fact that I might not ask that of someone, it helps to think about what might be stopping me from asking. I choose whether to make requests of the people around me. You do too. There may be costs and benefits of doing so. Yet, a wise friend taught me to “G-E-T you must A-S-K.”
If you or I get mad at someone for asking something, that is a choice. We may choose to respond in frustration, or we may establish our own boundaries with clarity or compassion. This means being clear with ourselves about what we are willing to do and not do. It also involves showing compassion for ourselves and the people around us, and taking care of our own needs. It may also sometimes mean changing your mind.
They get to ask. I get to ask. You may ask too.
What if you start asking more? People just might say, “Yes.”
They also have the right to say, “no.” You do as well.
If you need help asking for what you need, or clarifying boundaries at home, in your organization, or out in the community, sign up for peace coaching.
The people around you get to ask. You get to ask too. We all get to say, “yes,” “no,” or “let me think about it” as well.
What are you willing to ask? How are you responding?