I had the opportunity to take a workshop by the fantastic Marcia Baczynski on "How to Discover and Ask For What You Really Want in Bed (And Get It)" :-)
Although this was a sex positive workshop (“how to get what you want in bed”), the skill of “how to ask and get what you want” is a general one that can be applied many situations.
We started with reasons why we don't ask for what we want.
To ask for what we want, simply and directly, often raises fears.
Some examples of fears that can come up when we consider directly asking for what we want:
that we might be misinterpreted
that we might be judged
that it would be too vulnerable
it could start a fight
we might be rejected
it might rock the boat
it might disrupt the flow
we could be seen as selfish or self absorbed
we might come across as manipulative
we might fear that we are being manipulative if we ask for what we want
we don't want to hurt someone
this might not be the "appropriate" moment
it might not fit with someone's agenda
or, we fear it might expose our agenda, which would be disapproved of
if we ask and someone says "no", that will set a precedent and they'll be more likely to say "no" in the future
wanting to avoid disillusionment
fear of being disappointed
embarrassment or shame about what we want
conditioned not to ask for what we want
we feel we don't deserve to get it
not knowing if we actually want it
not trusting that if someone says "yes" they really mean it (as opposed to, for example, saying "yes" to be nice)
fear for safety (physical or emotional)
not wanting to lead someone on
However, just because we fear for whatever reason (or reasons!) to ask for what we want, the desire doesn't go away.
Maybe we'll be able to keep a tight leash on our desire... forever... but usually, it gets expressed... somehow.
When we express our desire, but not directly, that leads to desire smuggling.