One of the most useful things I’ve learned in my life is the one I learned at the beginning of my first mini-workshop with HAI: ask for 100% of what you want 100% of the time, be willing to hear no and negotiate to a win-win.
It sounds simple.
And it is. Sort of.
It is until you dig into the depths of it, and it is until it meets the decades of programming you carry. I wish wish wish we could learn this as kids.
It is simple, like so many practices, until you actually put it into practice.
Ask: we’re taught not to want, much less say it out loud.
For 100%: we learn to start the compromise before we’ve opened our mouths. This keeps us from telling the whole truth and it keeps others from knowing us deeply.
of what you want: that would involve knowing for real what you want, wouldn’t it? Not what you sort of want or what you think is acceptable to want but what you actually truly want. And not what you think will get you what you want, but the actual core desire. This by itself can keep you busy for hours.
100% of the time: oh boy. Even when someone is dying? Even when you know it will start a fight? Even when….? It’s your choice. You never have to. But even considering the possibility of asking every single time will change your entire world.
be willing to hear no: yeahhhh. So ask. But don’t be attached to getting it exactly. Ask, but be willing to be vulnerable. Be willing to not be met in your desire. This is the work of 1000 buddhist monks. Nonattachment and yet presence….
…and negotiate to a win-win. You can’t have this negotiation if hearing no has shut you down, or if you’ve given up. This is a second chance to revisit the question of desire. I want…but what do I really want? Is there another way I can get what I want? And another? And another? How about what they want? Can I imagine a way for them to get what they want? And another way? And another? What is it they really want? Can I get curious enough to find out?
What happens is that the request unfolds and unfolds. Generally it goes from very simple-sounding to really complicated. Positional arguments don’t work anymore. Positions melt and reform three feet to the left or seven feet below where they started. Opponents become allies. Everything becomes soft and pliable. Only fear causes hardening of the system.
And in this sometimes very delicate conversation, if you can move toward pleasure, if you can choose love, if you can not be afraid to be aligned with the person you thought you were arguing with, you can move closer. you can start to see the desire with clarity. And paths can open. Possibilities can reveal themselves. Something new is born. And with it, hope.
In order to get there, you need the desire.
You need the wanting.
And you need to know, with a superhuman clarity, what it is. For real. Not the wanting on the surface, but the desire behind the desire. Not wanting sex but wanting connection or pleasure or worthwhile or attractive…not wanting the laundry folded but wanting to feel cared for.
Because when you know what you want–what you really really want–then you can find a way to get it–a way that works.
If you need a place to start practicing, begin unloaded. Begin with what we’re used to wanting: things. Ask: if I could have anything–anything at all–what would I want? Forget what is practical or realistic and dig for the longings deep in your spirit.
Think cars and housing and pets and jobs. Start easy. It will naturally lead to questions of the heart.
Go. Want. It’s good for you.