Over the weekend, I was mid-pour on a glass of Cabernet when our cat Lloyd jumped up on the counter and rubbed his face against my hand, causing me to spill wine all over said counter (he may have just been after the wine, but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume he wanted some attention). I was frustrated not only by the cat being on the counter, but also by having to clean up the mess.
But – it got me thinking. Pets and children are masters at asking for what they need. When our pets need attention, they clamor for it; rubbing against our legs, jumping on our laps, chewing things. Children will run toward you, arms open, throwing themselves into your embrace, never doubting that you’ll hug them in return. They, too, will climb up in our laps uninvited, snuggling against our necks, or holding our hands.
Somewhere along the way, I feel that we unlearn how to ask for what we need. Not so much that we lose sight of what that is, we just stop asking for it.
How often could you use a hug, but are too embarrassed, shy or uncomfortable to ask your partner, child or friend for one? (And for any skeptics, they’re scientifically proven to be good for your health, check out this article on the Huffington Post).
What about your professional life? Are you doing work that connects with who you are? That utilizes your skill set? Is there something missing? Are there opportunities at work that you’re missing out on simply because you haven’t asked for them? Your boss doesn’t know how you feel, and what you need, if you don’t tell him/her.
In your relationships, are you feeling valued, appreciated, understood? Are there areas where you feel you’re drowning but haven’t spoken up? Is there a deficit somewhere in your marriage that needs to be addressed?
Our self worth is a huge factor in determining whether or not we will deny ourselves the love, affection, attention, opportunities and time we deserve.
I suspect that as we start to grow up and move through life, we gain or lose confidence. Within that, we start to decide (albeit subconsciously most of the time) whether or not we are worthy of being our true selves and of asking for what we need.
I know for me personally, adolescence was the training ground for much of the “unlearning” I went through. This is that ubiquitous time in our lives where we are socially separated into “winners” and “losers” in dozens of categories. (What I wouldn’t give for all young teenagers to be able to get through this phase of life unscathed…). For some, it can be so formative that they’ll carry the labels they pick up then through the rest of their lives. (Check out this article for more on the effects of childhood bullying and how it can be carried into adult life).
Take inventory of your emotional well-being. Are you getting what you need, and if not, are you afraid to ask for it? Why? What are some areas in your life where you have devalued your own self-worth?
If you want to stay up to date with the latest posts on Mrs. Jones Could Use a Beer, please sign up on my email list!