Today (and this week) I've been thinking about how hard it can feel to ask for what we want. It seems simple, and 'should' be easy, but it can feel soooo hard.
One of my clients today said, after his massage “That was about right. It's usually too hard or not hard enough.” and just those words gave me a massive grin. He'd got what he came for. And do you know why it was 'about right'? Because I asked him beforehand. I asked him how deep he wanted the touch, and he told me, and then I gave him what he asked for. And if he'd realised, during the massage, that it wasn't quite right and had asked me to go softer or deeper, I would have done that too. Because it was his massage, not mine.
There is no big secret about getting what you want – a lot of it comes down to simply asking.
But so often we don't. I definitely have struggled with asking for years and years and let's be honest, most of my life probably. Asking for what you want isn't seen as very English and it's even less encouraged in those of us socialised as women. Better just to 'be polite', to wait and see if it is offered. Or to hint around it.
I've had a few times lately where I've found myself getting resentful with friends because I've done something and they haven't done exactly what I wanted in return. But how are they supposed to know what's in my head? And why didn't I ask in the first place? Because in my head, if I asked, it meant that I was a horrible demanding person, who is never satisfied and is selfish; a bad person.
As you can imagine, it's often a barrel of laughs in my head...
Haha oh how we laugh, me and... myself...
Anyway, I am at last started to see that if I don't ask, how will the other person know? And if they say no, that's ok; we all know where we are then. Otherwise there's all this stuff going on underneath, that isn't being talked about. Again, this is all very English.
So that is why I ask before I give a massage: Which areas of your body want touch? How deep? How fast? How do you want to feel afterwards?
Once that has been answered, at least we know where we are.
And it doesn't always work perfectly, because I am not alone at finding it VERY BLOODY HARD to ask for what I want, or to say, “No, not exactly like that.” But you know what? We can do hard things. We totally can. We can practise saying I want exactly this please. We can practise saying 'no and, not exactly like that' and practising with me is an excellent place to start because I am absolutely on your side here, I know it can be hard and I want us all to be better at asking.
Whenever someone is clear about what they want, or whenever someone lets me know during a massage that something isn't quite working for them, I silently cheer, because I know that asking isn't easy, and that it takes practice, and I'm just happy that they feel comfortable enough to do it with me. It inspires me to practise asking too. Because only then have we got a hope of getting what we want. Unless the people you are around are magic. And yes, it is true, those people do exist. Some people can magically give you whatever it is you want. I know a few of them and I wonder at their amazingness. But for the most part, people are busy in their own heads so it helps if you know how to ask.
Thank you again to my clients today and to my friends and my family and all the people around me that I am practising asking with. Getting more skilled at something can be messy in the process, but practice is the only way we will get better.
I'd love a chance to work with you if you'd like to practise asking for what you want. And to those friends I have been messy with on my journey of practising asking – thank you for being there with me. I love you. And I love my clients too. It's a journey, eh, this life thing, not a destination.
Ruth Nadia x
The photo is from an old photo shoot with Pete Huntley. I thought my contemplative mood fitted this post. Big love to you all and thank you for reading.