By Guest Blogger Cristin Whiting, PsyD

Why is it so hard to ask for what you really want?

Everyone has had the experience…

Maybe you want a raise or a promotion at work. Maybe you have admired someone for a long time and you want to move your relationship from a friendship to a romance, or maybe you want a certain kind of physical affection from your partner. (Let’s face it money, love and sex are really the big places most get hung up.)

At first blush, asking for what you really want takes bravery or courage. Even with the most artfully phrased and well-reasoned requests, you still can’t be certain what response you will get. Yet, while the element of uncertainty is part of why people get so tripped up when it comes to asking for what they want, there is more to it than that…

To ask for what you really want, requires vulnerability and being vulnerable is something that most people avoid. Even more potent than risking an uncertain conclusion, is risking exposing that which one’s heart, mind or body desires most.

For some, being vulnerable is akin to being weak; a weakness that is born out of fear that the other person may now have an “upper hand” and a power imbalance has been created in the relationship, particularly if participation from the other person is desired to bring something to fruition. Perhaps Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails said it more emphatically than most of us will admit it out loud when he sang the lyrics, “I’d rather die than give you control” but when you look at how people are about being vulnerable in relationships, what he sang wasn’t so far from the truth of the experience of many.

And that is where trust comes in. Trust is that other emotion along with vulnerability that makes people squirm in their seats. It is trust that balances the uncertainty of the outcome with some sense of safety in making the request in the first place.

When it comes to feeling safe and secure, people fall into thinking that security has something to do with the other person. You may have noticed that qualities about the other person are sometimes used as an excuse for not making a request: “They will never go for it.” “They will just say no.” “They won’t understand me.”

The truth of the matter is that the sense of safety or security ironically comes less from the other person than it comes from oneself. It is that trust in oneself that says, “I am who I am and whether I get a “Yes” or I get a “No”. I am still me.” That is what is called having a sense of oneself as whole and complete. Whether the boss agrees that you are ready for the promotion, whether your friend returns your romantic affection, or whether or not your partner is interested in learning the art of the Venus Butterfly, your sense of yourself is not negatively affected. In fact, it is through honoring your wants and desires by making the request, that your sense of your self, your real Self grows.

So to come full circle, what it takes to have that kind of trust is in fact courage. Courage to make the request and trust in knowing that you are complete and even emboldened to your true Self, regardless of what happens next.

What is it that your heart, mind and body desire most?

*This article was recently published on