Recently, a young mother in the Core Brilliance Collaborative, my business coaching group for healers and artists mentioned that she fears being a burden.
She has struggled to create time to devote to her healing practice, and when I asked her where her fear stems from, she shared that she learned early on that people will not like you if you have too many needs. Especially for women, society teaches us at a young age that putting our needs first is selfish, and that if we ask for too much, we are being a burden.
In order to fully step into our power, create businesses that serve our communities, and be the models we want to be for our children, we need to learn how to ask for what we need without fear of being a burden. Research by relationship expert Dr. John Gottman actually demonstrates that not speaking our needs and letting disappointment linger can lead to the downfall of a marriage. In order to create truly fulfilling relationships, we need to learn to ask for what we need, even if we fear being a burden.
Step one: Honor your needs.
The first step towards receiving what you desire is to honor your needs. Connect to your inner guidance by feeling into your gut and asking yourself, “If I could receive anything right now, without fear of being a burden, what would I most desire?” This may be in regards to your business, your relationship, or some other area of your life. Learn to discern between pseudo-needs, which arise from a fear that you won’t be loved in you don’t get what you’re craving, and true needs that arise from a place of love.
Step two: Feel your fear of being a burden.
After you recognize what you need, the next step is to feel the fear that arises from the belief that you’ll never get your needs met or that you’re being a burden if you ask for what you need. If you try to bottle up this fear and ignore its root cause, you’re likely to get angry or resentful or make a request in a way that doesn’t actually serve you. Your feelings are the physical expression of your needs and inner callings, and in order to live your truth, you need to open to feeling what you feel.
Step three: Shine light on the story of being a burden.
When you were born, you did not fear of being a burden; you cried, laughed, stared, and pooped whenever you needed to. It was only in the months and years after you were born that the concept of being a burden was introduced and you began to fear asking for support meeting your needs. You internalized this idea, and it became part of the arsenal of beliefs that you inner Judge uses to try to get you to conform to society’s ideal of who you should be.
The fear of being a burden is not truly yours. You were born free from judgment towards yourself or anyone else, and deep down, there is a part of you who knows that you are still perfect exactly as you are. Rather than being a burden, your needs are an expression of life moving through you, seeking to realize its full potential. As you move towards making a request, remember that you are a worthy, good enough person and that you are not a burden, no matter how the other person chooses to respond to your request.
Step four: Make a super specific request.
The first thing to keep in mind when making your request is to make it super specific, so that the other person can understand exactly what you want them to do. For example, you may understand what you mean when you say, “I need help cleaning the house,” but it’s much easier for the other person to follow through when you say, “Can you please clean the dishes after I cook at night?”
Step five: Use a soft start-up.
Next, make sure to use a soft start-up, avoiding criticism or contempt. Rather than pointing out what the other person hasn’t been doing, speak about how you feel and what you want. When you speak your needs while being mindful of the other person’s feelings, your conversation has the potential to deepen the understanding and connection between the two of you.
Step six: Respect the other person’s needs.
You are not being a burden by asking for what you need; you only get into a problem if you forget that the other person may not want the same thing and you try to force, beg, or plead with the other person to give you something that they’re not ready, willing, or able to give. To avoid this, ask the other person what they need or want, and listen carefully. If they say yes, wonderful! If they cannot say yes, then go back through steps one through three, and notice if you need to meet your needs in another way or if you can modify your request.
When you step beyond the story of being a burden, and learn to speak your needs from a place of courage and compassion, you access the power to live your purpose fully and create deep, lasting connection with the people you love.