Dr. Phil is famous for saying, “We teach people how to treat us” as he discusses in an interview with the host from Access Hollywood more fully which can be watched by clicking here.
Basically, we train people what they can get away with by our responses or lack thereof in our interpersonal relationships. For example, if we do everything for everyone all the time, they consciously or unconsciously begin to take advantage of us; which we taught them to do by continuing to carry their weight and ours too!
If we aren’t used to asking for what we need, it can feel very uncomfortable at first. It does take practice and a whole lot of courage to speak up and express what is important to us and be honest about our likes and dislikes.
Many of us were raised to be the ‘good girls’ and boys’ and not create waves and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. However, being nice is not always the best or most loving response, as it enables bad behavior from those who are hurtful or not mutually contributing in our lives; and keeps us from setting boundaries. This type of withholding, self-sacrificing pattern of living creates enabling relationships and is personally destructive.
We do our friends and ourselves a disservice by withholding our true feelings and developing resentment about something they are doing or not doing that is disturbing us.
Most people aren’t mind readers either, so it is not fair to assume others should know what we need without our asking for it.
Many of us refrain from asking for something because we find it immature and needy. Ironically, it is a sign of maturity, strength and self-love to trust ourselves and ask for what we need.
The responses we get from others may not always be to our liking and can lead us to feeling shamed or foolish. If that is the case, then it is either our discomfort at breaking a long standing pattern of not requiring enough from others, or maybe they are just not able to meet the need at this time, or maybe they are not the friend we thought.
Time and our intuition will tell, but if it is the latter, then it is better to find that out now and be authentic, then remaining silent and dishonest in order to keep them around in our life.
All we can control is our side of the conversation and others have the right to either agree to meet our requests or not. Their responses are revealing and instructive information as to where we stand and if that standing will work for us.
It really does take practice to ask for what we need, and listen to the voice within or any other skills we want to develop.
For instance, it would be good to start asking for small things and work up to the bigger things just like if we started lifting weights at the gym. Hopefully, we would start lifting lighter weights and gradually increase the weight over time. Our muscles will get stronger as time goes by and not cause as much injury in the process with this practical approach.
Same is true with the practice of speaking up and being a good friend to ourselves by asking for what we need. That assertiveness muscle needs some attention too, if it is to get stronger and more comfortable over time.
Today, practice asking for something you need with a safe person in your life, in spite of your discomfort in doing so.