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“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” – Swedish Proverb

Asking for what you want, especially when you’re worried about it, can feel absolutely impossible. The more you worry about it, the bigger the problem gets and the scarier the whole idea seems. It grows from a small pebble into a huge boulder that casts a shadow over your life.

The next time you need to ask for something you’re worried about (from a partner, colleague, family member, friend…anyone really!) break down your boulder into smaller pieces. Here’s how.

Step One: Get out of worry mode.

Your pebble will start to grow the longer you’re in worry mode. Worry mode is any state you’re in when you’re thinking about the negative possibilities of asking for what you want. You picture the person laughing in your face, or saying no. You imagine what they might think of you if you do ask, or see yourself stumbling over the words.

The only thing these things have in common is that they aren’t real. They haven’t happened yet. Worry mode keeps you in a state where you’re putting emotional energy into things that haven’t happened. It’s all make believe.

Here are three more keys to getting out of worry mode so you can ask.

  • Stay focused in the present moment – most of your worries about the past or future.
  • Don’t try to guess what is on people’s minds, or what will be when you ask.
  • Build up your confidence and focus on what you can control, which is asking your question.

Step Two: Clarify what you want to ask.

When you’re worried about asking something, you need to get very clear about what you want. Not only will your clarity reduce your worry, you’ll also build up your confidence because you will know exactly what you want to say.

Think carefully about what you want to ask. You can try journaling or practicing the conversation until you get clear. Take as much of the emotion out of it as possible, and try not to over-explain. Get to the heart of your question, and be as clear as possible.

The practice and practice some more! Practice your question in front of the mirror or with a friend that you trust. The go on to step three…

Step Three: Set your mindset for success.

You should definitely expect the best, but you shouldn’t expect a yes. Your success mindset isn’t a magic potion. The person you’re asking has their own ideas, motivations and decision making skills. Your mindset affects you – not them.

Setting your mindset for success means challenging your own negative thinking. Even after all this prep work, you may go into the situation with some butterflies that evolve into nasty moths of doubt. When negative thinking pops up, challenge it directly with some self-talk, like this:

“It’s okay that I’m a little worried right now, because everything is going to be okay. I’m prepared, confident, and I’m ready to ask for what I want.”

Then take a deep breath – and ask!