15 common reasons why we don’t ask

Over the past few years while working with women as a life coach and facilitator, I have noticed a recurring issue. It keeps showing up again and again, and it is an issue too obvious to ignore.

It does not matter who I am working with, what the issue is that my client and I are navigating together or what stage of life they are in, we seem to hit on the same issue repeatedly.

It is when we get to the point where the client needs to ask for something – a thing they need or want to be able to move themselves forward – that we encounter a barrier.

It can be anything – the need to ask for help, time, money, feedback, hugs. And I say something like, “Have you considered asking for what you want?”

At this moment, one of two things tends to happen. Either the client sees they had no idea that asking was a possibility in their situation, or they hit up against an internal barrier that prevents them from asking for what they want.

It is not the case for every single client, but it has happened enough for me to see that we women generally have a fear of asking.

Why do we struggle so much when it comes to asking for what we need and want?

If you want more passion from your partner, you have to ask for it.

If you want a new role at work, you need to ask for the promotion.

If you want more from your employees, you need to ask for more from them.

If you are asked to make a major life decision and you need more time to weigh up the options, you can ask for more time.

Every time we complain about what someone else is or is not doing, it is a great opportunity to look at what we are or are not doing.

Of course, it takes courage to take action; it always has and it always will. It also takes bravery to state what you need. And it requires immense vulnerability to ask for more than what has been dealt out to you.

Worthiness is at the core of so many decisions we make about others and ourselves. It dictates and defines what we feel we deserve in all areas of life – who we have as friends, who we choose as a life partner, who we do business with, where we go, what careers we have and how we experience the world.

There is no end to the list of reasons we give for not asking for what we need and want. Here are some of the reasons that women have shared with me.

  • I do not want to look greedy.
  • I am too scared. 

  • I am afraid of getting a no.

  • I am afraid of getting a yes. 

  • I am afraid of looking stupid. 

  • I am scared of being rejected. 

  • I do not want to appear arrogant. 

  • I do not want to be a burden. 

When you look at this list, we may think it is simply easier not to ask, since we don’t want to be rejected, embarrassed or to feel uncomfortable. However, the impact on women of not asking for what we need and want is much more profound than feeling uncomfortable.

Here is a list of 15 reasons why we must ask:

  1. Building resentment

  2. Constant disappointment

  3. Anger

  4. The need to blame

  5. Withdrawing from others

  6. Shutting down

  7. Nagging

  8. Testing

  9. Suffering and causing others to suffer
  10. Hoping instead of doing

  11. Feelings of failure

  12. Feelings of jealousy

  13. Judging of others

  14. Gossiping

  15. Being a victim

What are you not asking for, and what is the impact of this inability to ask on your day-to-day wellbeing and experience of life? 

Two important questions to ask yourself are:

“Do I value myself enough to ask?”

“Am I worthy enough to state my preference in this situation?”

We will not always get what we ask for – and sometimes that is for the best – but we will always build our worthiness just by taking the action of asking in the first place.

Kemi Nekvapil is a coach, speaker and author who empowers women to nourish themselves and their lives.
1 Comment

This is so true. But sometimes asking is harder than doing something else.