There is one category of things we say that seems in some way risky-- it is to ask for something. We are sometimes so afraid to ask that we do away with the asking altogether and just expect others to read our minds. Newsflash: most people are not mind-readers. Or we are so afraid to ask that we become passive aggressive, thinking falsely that this will give us our intended results. Another newsflash: it usually doesn't.
If this sounds familiar to you, it is not because I have singled you out. It is because I know I have this tendency. Someone once pointed out to me what I never noticed in myself before-- that I did not know how to ask for things. Instead of saying "Can I have water?", I would say "I am thirsty."
Today, I have had a little more time to reflect on this topic of asking and being afraid of asking. And I think it has to do with our fears. We are afraid that the answer is going to be no. We are afraid of putting ourselves at risk. We are afraid of putting ourselves out there in the world. And so we resort to saying things that fall short of asking. How we say things lose their power. We are not confident with our intentions, and so our words reflect them.
But you see, we can expand our understanding of what it means to ask, to see it not merely as a risk, but as trust-- to trust perhaps the other person, the universe, and most importantly ourselves, to know that we are going to be okay regardless of what the response may be.
At first glance, asking seems daunting because we may be attached to our small selves. We may not genuinely believe we have the right to ask. Or we may think it's selfish. Or we are worried about what others might think. But asking for something, on a broader perspective, is not about us. It is about daring to make that connection. It is asking: Are you with me? Are we on the same side? And whether or not the answer is affirmative, if we have gained that trust within ourselves, we would be grounded enough to not be afraid to try.