This message is an expanded version of a message crafted for a yoga class I taught recently. (Coming soon!) At the bottom of this post, you can click on the video of the actual class to see how I designed the class around the theme “ask for what you need, let go of what is no longer serving you.”
My son is an 8th grader this year. I can’t believe he is going to be in high school next year! He is an amazing kid who faces challenges everyday like any other junior high student. I don’t know of a single person who would go back and repeat their junior high years!!! To add to the already wild ride of junior high hormones, wanting to fit in/stand out, needing parents/pushing parents away, not growing fast enough/growing too fast, my son also realizes that his autism makes him different. He says on a regular basis that he wishes he would grow out of his autism like he is growing out of his clothes.
One of the challenges with my son is communication. He is either very direct or does not speak at all. We have experienced some really funny situations with him regarding communication. Before his birthday, he began sending out text messages to his friends and family about how he needed them to buy him a gift for his birthday. He will voice text friends to tell them that he needs them to invite him over to their house to hang out or approach a mom at an after-school function and ask her to invite him over while I am standing beside him. He sent his cousin a message telling her that her sister (also his cousin) needs to send him a sweet note to encourage him.
As his mom, I experience many emotions when he texts people to ask for what he needs. First, I admit to being embarrassed and having anxiety about how the world will receive him. I think to myself, “How will they receive his message. This is totally inappropriate. Our society does not work this way. He is going to lose friends if he keeps asking for things.” We talk to Peyton about how his friends need to invite him over to their house. He can’t invite himself over to their house. We encourage him to invite friends to our house. We talk about how there are rules about asking for things and that we don’t want him to lose friends because he of his persistence.
My feelings are rooted in something good: a desire to protect him, a desire for the world to see and hear him. But why was I facing such resistance to this behavior? Why did I get angry when he doesn’t care to understand how other’s might respond to his request? My resistance gave me an invitation to explore what thoughts and beliefs this resistance revealed. I had an opportunity to take a U-turn and explore why I felt embarrassed and anxious about his behavior. What I discovered blew me away! I realized that I feel uncomfortable asking for what I need. Even deeper….I feel ashamed for having needs. I am great at discovering what my children or my husband need and trying to meet their need, but expressing my own needs made me feel “needy” a word we use with a negative connotation. Worse…I tend to get angry when people are not meeting my needs!!! So, somewhere along the way, I learned that asking for what I needed was wrong, but sending subtle signals, hints, energy currents, relying on telepathy was the correct way, the “society approved way,” to get my needs met. Guess what? Most of the time I end up disappointed, sad, angry. I blame the other person when I am really frustrated at myself.
Here is the gift: I have this beautiful boy in my life who knows what he needs and asks for it. My resistance to his way was based on a deeply held belief that asking for what I need is wrong. Now, I have the opportunity to let go of that belief/way of being in this world to embrace a new way. A few nights ago, we were sitting around the dinner table and Peyton asked for what he needed to feel loved. Instead of being frustrated or weary of his needs, I responded, “Peyton, I love that you know what you need and that you are able to ask us to fill that need. Mommy struggles with asking for what I need, so I appreciate you showing me how.” His face lit up with a HUGE smile. For the first time, I saw the gift of this behavioral trait and he felt my appreciation.
I bumped into a situation this week where I had an opportunity to ask for what I needed. I took time to reflect on what I needed out of the situation and then I bravely asked for what I needed. How did it turn out? Not the way I wanted it to turn out. I did not receive what I needed from this person, so I had the opportunity to take a U turn and explore if my need was flexible or if this truly was a need that could not be compromised. I stood firm in my need because it aligned with a need my family affirmed and as a result lost out on an opportunity. Here is another reason why I stood firm….In reading about non-violent communication towards the self, I realized that most often I violated an unspoken need within myself so that I could please the other person. When I took the U-turn to explore my need for the second time, I realized that this time I needed to hold firm so that the part of me that felt vulnerable to speaking my need could trust me to uphold/stand by/affirm/protect/honor my need.
Do I regret my decision……NO! Another opportunity will come my way. This decision is also based on my belief in abundance over the myth of scarcity. The world has an abundance of opportunities just waiting for me. Maybe next time, I will ask for what I need and my need will be met. Maybe next time I ask for what I need, I will feel safe enough to be flexible with the opportunity. Maybe next time my need and my families need will align with the need of another person. Maybe I am experiencing an awakening to what beliefs I operate under that no longer serve me. It’s time for me to ask for what I need and let go of the things that no longer serve me. Would you join me?