I have talked to so many women, from entrepreneurs, to executives, to college graduates, and there’s often a common theme that I hear: the fear to ask for what they really want.
At first I thought it was just me that felt this way at times – I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon. But as I’ve encountered so many women with this challenge, I began to ask the question: why are we afraid to ask…
…for the position we want?
…for the salary we deserve?
…for what we need in relationships?
I explore the reasons we’re afraid, and mindset shifts to make, in my upcoming book “You’re Absolutely Worth It.” Here’s a summary of the reasons I’ve found:
Fear of Rejection: everything from, What will they think about me if I ask for that? What if they say no? to I don’t want to seem too greedy. We somehow believe the request will cause friction or issues with those around us, putting their comfort ahead of our legitimate requests. It’s often self-sacrificial, and self-sabotaging, unfortunately.
Fear of the Answer: Sometimes we are terrified of asking for what we want because we doubt whether we will be able to handle it. Swirling thoughts of failure and overwhelm can cause us to fear getting the very things we really want. We anticipate failure before we even ask.
Not Thinking We’re Enough: we’re actually not sure we’re good enough for that position, income, relationship – so we don’t always have the courage to ask. We may see ourselves unfit and less than others around us, so while we’ve invested in our skills we still doubt we’re worth the job or promotion; while we’re giving in relationships, we still don’t know if we are worth the commitment or love.
So how do you unravel the lies and get the courage to ask for what you want? Here’s a few things to consider:
A No Doesn’t Define Your Worth – Sometimes we assume if we get a no it means we’re not really worth what we want, or something is wrong with us. It’s so important to understand that the no is often a reflection of another person’s inability to give you what you need, or inability to see what you are worth. No says more about them than it does you. Our mindset has to become, “The no doesn’t mean I’m not worth a yes. I’ll keep going until I get a yes.” That might involve looking elsewhere, getting clarity from them or you, or developing your skills, expertise and the like to get the yes you want.
Your Legacy and Dreams Are Worth Protecting: You are not just asking for yourself, but for everyone and everything that is attached for you. When you ask for more – whatever “more” is for you – where you’ll live, your relationship quality, your ability to care for loved ones, how you’ll live in retirement, is all being determined. So you literally can’t afford not to ask for more.
The short-term fear associated with asking for what you want can be the only thing between you and the long-term gains you really want – so consider that gain when you get nervous. Ask yourself, what are your dreams and legacy worth?
Get Informed about Your Request: If you’re nervous about the request, get information that can help you gain the confidence to ask – whether it be a recruiter, salary comparisons, friends, people in healthy relationships, therapists. Sometimes this is the one key we need to understand that what we’re asking for isn’t ridiculous, and in fact that we might need to ask for waaayyy more. Conversely, it can also help us see if our request isn’t realistic just yet based on skills, maturity, or something we’ve not consider
You’re absolutely worth it – whatever it is to you. Gaining the confidence to ask for it is often the first step.
Many of the points in this article came from my upcoming book, “You’re Absolutely Worth It: Release Self-Doubt, Embrace Confidence, and Own Your Yes.” Get your copy here.