Why do we rarely get what we want from others, even when we give our all? What if we could never count on getting what we wanted from others? How would that have us feel? Hopeless? Powerless? Despondent? For many of us, this is what it felt like as children, and our lives still reflect this core belief. What if getting what we want is not dependent on others? What if it comes from ourselves? What if we are able to give ourselves what we want and drop our expectations of others completely?
One reason we find ourselves in this quandary is our limiting beliefs about whose job it is to take care of us in the first place. We may have learned that those in authority (parents, teachers, governments, banking system, siblings, etc.) should be taking care of our needs and watching out for us. This inter-generational belief keeps us from internalizing this critical job of self-care for ourselves. It is our job to know and take care of our own needs yet few of us learned how to do this. Some of us learned the opposite – that we can’t trust or rely on those in authority and the only safe way is to suffer by going at it alone or doing it all ourselves. Either way, we give our own personal authority away when we make decisions from this limited perspective.
Many of us have been trapped in thinking of ourselves as powerless to make changes outside of ourselves, or we feel it is someone else’s job (parents, spouse, school, government, church, justice systems, job, etc.) to make changes for us on our behalf. We may find ourselves waiting for others, or for circumstances to be ‘just right’ before we take action on our own behalf. We may shy away from moving forward because it is so overwhelming to do it all alone. In the end, all of these behaviors keep us from getting what we want.
Another belief that keeps us stuck here is that the scales must stay balanced between giving and receiving which has us focus on keeping score as to who is ‘owed’ and who ‘owes’. This belief has us feel cheated when we give more energy/attention/support than we are receiving back from that person or situation. We have this idea that if we give to them, they will give back to us in equal measure.
What if this isn’t true? What if we decided to no longer give to others with the expectation of receiving back in equal measure from them? What if we could drop this expectation and just give unconditionally because it feels good?
This shift would take the ‘obligation’ out of our relationships and release us and each other from the unspoken expectations we live by. Then we could give from ‘inspiration’ and receive fully without obligation.
Regardless of where we are in our life, it’s time to learn how to take care of ourselves in all the ways that we can. Asking for what we want, saying no to what we don’t want, asking for those things clearly, kindly and without attachment to the outcome. Getting what we want comes from honoring ourselves and our needs consistently in each area and relationship in our lives. It can be shocking how situations and relationships can shift when you do this.
I had a boss that used criticism for feedback and control to manage the team. As a result, I felt chastised and micro-managed much of the time. After 2 years of complaining about it to others and threatening to leave, I decided that I wasn’t putting up with it any longer. I spoke up about how I felt, said I was no longer willing to operate that way, and asked for what I wanted instead (constructive feedback and major milestone support). I also shared that if I was feeling controlled or criticized in the future, I would be changing the subject or ending the conversation. This is the way I took care of myself. I couldn’t change my boss’s behavior, but I could be clear about how it was for me and what I would do to take care of myself if they continued the old way. In the end, I’m responsible for supporting what I want and don’t want – not the other person. My boss’s new awareness of how I felt and what I wanted, and my new commitment to hold that boundary firm for myself, completely transformed our relationship. I never heard a word of criticism again and they pulled back their attention and focus on my day-to-day work no longer trying to micro-manage my effort.
Taking care of ourselves means being self-respectful. When we are respectful of ourselves, we receive respect from others.
If respect is something you want to get from others, start with respecting your own wants instead of focusing on theirs. That is their job to do for themselves. When we all do this for ourselves, we can meet in a place of supporting ourselves and supporting each other from inspiration and without expectation of equal return. We give to others when it feels good for us to do, and we receive from both ourselves and others without obligation.
How can you give yourself what you really want today?