Not Getting What You Need? That Used to Be Me.

A client reminded me today of the story of my last birthday.  It was a good day, but not for the reasons you might suspect.  I was not spoiled.  I didn’t get that one gift I’ve always secretly wished for, but never requested.  The weather wasn’t even that great.


The amazing thing (to me, at least) is that it was a good day DESPITE the fact that my celebration was decidedly underwhelming.  Neither of my sons (who, I should say are usually pretty good at this sort of thing) got me even so much as a card.  And my husband got me a mug.  A nice mug, from one of the best coffee shops in the world Blue Bottle (and mug that I had admired – which he’d noticed,) but still, not exactly a trip to Tahiti! 


There was no special dinner, no special dessert planned. But when I told my family (some of whom we’re feeling bad when they realized what was happening) that I really was FINE.  I wasn’t just saying it.  I really was fine.  In fact, I was quite happy.  I was in a place I’d chosen to be in, with my parents and my kids and my husband.  It was enough.  It was good. 


Mind you I was not always this Zen about underwhelming celebrations of me.  But I am now, more often than not, because I have learned to do the two things I’m going to suggest to you.


1)    I’ve learned to ask for what I need and want.


2)    I’ve learned to regularly get for myself what I need and want regardless of what my amazing loved ones do or do not do.  In other words, I take responsibility. 


If you’re already great at asking for what you want and taking responsibility for getting what you need on a regular basis, that’s awesome!  You probably don’t need to keep reading.


But if it’s hard for you, as it was for me—for decades—then read on.  I’ve got a couple thoughts about how to overcome some common barriers to getting started.

Celebrating the Wisdom of Teens—Really!

I’m ridiculously amazed at how much my son has grown in the past few weeks while I’ve been conducting what I think of as my “compassionate observation experiment.” 

My intention during this time was to focus on replacing instruction from me about what he should do and be with compassionate observation of who he is already, where it seems he wants to go, and how it works best for him to get there.

It’s an experiment that builds on the belief that he is already good and wise at the core of his being (even as a teenager!) and therefore, that he knows more about what’s best for him than I do.  (For my college-aged readers, I want you to know especially that I believe this about you too.)

Side note: This is the idea that academic and life coaching is based on too and that’s why I love it so much.  It opens a whole realm of untapped wisdom that we often overlook.  

This belief in the inherent wisdom of individuals contrasts with dominant views about teenagers that emphasize their poor judgement, lack of knowledge and experience, and resulting need for lots of adult instruction and control over their lives.

There’s some truth to this more deficit-based perspective as well, of course.  Teens do, in fact, have undeveloped brains with some significant disconnections between the logical, rational part of the brain and the parts that determine their emotions and actions.  They often do need adults to “connect the dots.” 

Still, teens (mine included) tend to get PLENTY of instruction and control from parents and teachers and counselors etc.  In this experiment, I wanted to tip the scales a bit in the other direction.