How do we get what we want?
[Excerpt from 'It's not you... and it's not me']
In the taxi once on the way to a party I asked my fiancé at the time, ‘Is this outfit a bit too much do you think?’
It was a glitter dress. We were going to a pub.
‘Probably’ he said.
I didn’t talk to him for the rest of the night.
Yes. I know.
In the taxi I sure as hell didn’t want his actual opinion. I didn’t want what I had actually asked for.
The honest request would have been, ‘I’m feeling insecure about this outfit. Please say something, anything to reassure me. And if you can’t find something truthful to say then please lie.’
If I’d asked for that, I might well have received it. Instead, I got what I asked for which was the opposite of what I was really asking for and it sent me deeper into a sulk of insecurity.
Is what we are asking for really what we want? In our courses, we call this a ‘Clean Ask’. Or is it code for something else?
When life is a projection of hurt, what we ask for is never what we really want. We might ask for help in the kitchen but we are really asking for love. When we don’t get the help (remember how confusion pushes everything we think we want away) it looks like we are being refused love instead of just help wiping a sink. No wonder we react with such intensity to crumbs on the counter.
With transparency, honesty and accountability we can voice our inner needs. I want to feel loved. I want to feel secure. I want to feel valid. And voicing these needs makes it clear that these cannot be met by anything in the world of people, actions and objects. Instead the desire turns inwards, is parented inwards.
And from there we can ask for a hug, a kiss, a phone call, a date, a conversation, a marriage, a clean kitchen for exactly what it is. People can give us what we ask for because we are asking for what we want.
The key to a ‘clean ask’ is that it allows for whatever answer the other gives. Instead of their answer creating resentment and resistance, it is understood for what it is: information
We can ask for anything. The answer might be no. And that is information which allows for ever greater realism.
Will you be faithful to me? Will you promise to be home by 5 every night? Do you want children with me? Do you love me? Do you choose me?
The answer might be no.
And it might be a no that causes us to stagger backwards as everything that we clung to is shaken. But this suffering now is telling us to stay in reality. Feel the devastation in every cell of the body. This is sanity now. Their words are information.
Their words create the space for conversation and ultimately the owning of our own compromises and choices.
Instead of resentment that someone isn’t changing, we recognise that this is now on us. We have the information. What we do with it now is up to us.
Expectations turn into agreements or a different arrangement altogether. The compromises we are making become more and more visible. Actions and words that are going against our deepest truth make less and less sense.
The greatest freedom is the realisation that everything we don’t want in our life, everything we most resist is an on-going active choice to keep it in place. It is on us. No one else.
From our identity as wronged and mis-treated this is almost impossible to acknowledge. It looks like victim-blaming. But as we heal, we edge closer to seeing how all reality of self, world and other is held in place through our behaviours and perceptions. The world changes as we move with curiosity about what is actually true.
This way, the layers are dissolved to reveal the relationship, the job, the friendships of our dreams.
Where do we go from here…? Let’s look at this in our next chapter.