People like to talk a lot about what’s “toxic” in their lives, and how they can, and should, expunge it.
Cleaning fluids, processed meats, people.
The only thing that can be toxic in your life is complacency. You are the one consuming, choosing and returning to these things. Nobody is holding a gun to your head. You are a slave to your most carnal desire: comfort.
But we choose things we don’t want on auto-pilot when there are no better options. We do this when we are too afraid to ask for what we really want.
When we see no more worthwhile options, we stagnate.
Maybe the problem with your life isn’t that the universe won’t comply with your needs and desires, maybe it isn’t that your fear is so overwhelming that you are immobilized, maybe it isn’t that roadblocks keep appearing just as you try to accelerate. Maybe the root of the problem is that you aren’t asking for what you want, and you’re being absolutely sidelined when the world doesn’t give it to you.
Maybe what you want is more financial stability, yet you’re not asking for more work, or a side gig, or a new job. Maybe what you want is for your partner to love you in some really specific way and you’re not telling them what it is. Maybe your anxiety is actually a signal that is asking you to meet a super basic need, and you won’t communicate it to yourself.
You would be floored by how often you can get what you want just by asking for it.
Not demanding it. Not guilting someone for it. Not pressuring, shaming, or convincing them.
Politely, with sincerity.
I’ve never seen someone commit to a relationship because their potential partner was rattling off a list of reasons why they “should” be together. I’ve never seen someone advance before their peers at work because they had a cold shoulder and bad attitude. I’ve never seen someone do a friend a professional favor by stating why not doing it would be completely unfair.
You know what I have seen work?
Asking your partner to commit, without having to justify why. Asking for a raise, with a spreadsheet of evidence as to why it’s deserved. Applying for a new job, and stating qualifications with ease. Asking for a favor and saying, “Thank you, I know you must be busy, I appreciate this.”
Going to yoga classes every day because your anxiety is asking for it. Eating better because the fogginess that is overcoming you everyday at 3 p.m. is asking for it.
The discrepancy between what you want and what you’re choosing can be dizzyingly wide if we never stop to really think about it.
It’s easier not to write down your desires, because then not having them doesn’t seem like such an epic failure. It’s easier to pretend that we want the bare minimum, so that we always feel accomplished and secure.
But you can’t fool yourself forever.
The easy way doesn’t work. You can only underachieve your way into so much before the discomfort boiling inside of you begs you to acknowledge that you are capable of so, so much more.
When it comes to asking for what you want, you really only have one choice. You do it, or live forever with the subtle nagging of a life half lived. The easy way out is a temporary distraction from the one path that you’ve been calling yourself to all along.