Allowing Yourself to Ask for More: It Begins in the Therapy Room

Confident person in suit strides forward out of elevators with pleased expressionSo, you’re in therapy, and it’s going well. You’ve established a good therapeutic relationship. You trust your therapist. You feel some symptom relief. You feel heard.

Maybe you don’t exactly “look forward” to sessions, but you are glad you have a weekly space to think, feel, and process (though maybe not in that order).

I don’t want to mess with success, but I ask you to take a second and ponder these two questions:

  1. Are you getting what you want?
  2. Are you giving all you can?

Perhaps you have a goal you check in about—that’s great. I’m not anti-goal, but I do worry at times that our outcome-focused society can miss the exciting, unexpected developments by focusing too stringently on a goal.

That’s why I’m not only asking about goal progress when I ask you, “Do you want more?”

What Stops Us from Asking for ‘More’?

For those of us who are less assertive than others, it’s often not an easy task to say we want more. We might know we want more but be unsure of how to ask for it, or we may unconsciously push down this desire and be less in tune with our dissatisfaction.

Wanting more could be a concrete want, such as “I want a raise,” but it can also be somewhat amorphous. For example, what does wanting more in therapy mean? More time? More insights?

Here’s the thing, though: all of the concerns you have about asking your therapist for more are akin to the ones you probably have about asking for more in ‘real life.’

There are many reasons why people struggle with asking for more from their therapist. Some reasons might include the following: What will be the therapist’s response? Will they put the blame on me? Will they take it to mean I don’t think they’re working hard enough? Is asking for more considered disrespectful? Will they give me less attention in sessions just out of spite? Will my asking for more backfire?

Here’s the thing, though: all of the concerns you have about asking your therapist for more are akin to the ones you probably have about asking for more in ‘real life.’

  • They’re what stop you from talking to your partner about more intimacy.
  • They may be what is keeping you from asking for a promotion.
  • They may stop you from getting what you were promised—that fear that if you ask for what is in your contract, your boss may find a reason why you aren’t worth it.

“Maybe I’ll make them so angry that the little they do give me will be taken away,” you might worry. Or “Maybe they’ll be angry or upset and I’ll not only have to deal with not getting enough, but I’ll now have to manage with them being pissed at me.”

Sure—all of that is possible, even in therapy. In therapy, though, if you have a good therapist, they can handle all of your concerns. They can be in touch with their own response and be able to help you move through your fears without putting their stuff on you.

Because at the end of all of this is the core issue: You are coming to terms with expressing your desire for more (whatever that ‘more’ is.)

Conclusion

There are times and situations when it may be unwise to ask for more. You, at the end of the day, are the best judge of this. But first you need to know whether the part of you that is stopping yourself from asking for more has actually conducted a thorough assessment of the situation or if it’s a part of you that feels that you don’t really deserve more.

If this is the case, it may be a good idea to begin processing what the desire for more looks and feels like, and doing this in therapy—expressing your desire for more with your therapist—is an awesome place to start.

If you are having difficulty asking for what you need in your personal life but are not currently working with a therapist or counselor and would like to seek support from one, you can begin your search here.

© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Justin Lioi, LCSW, therapist in Brooklyn, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Arnie

    Arnie

    December 14th, 2017 at 12:27 PM

    It can be really, really hard for those of us that have been taught by society that wishing for more is hopeless to break that habit. At the same time, sometimes there’s just no use to wanting more. It can be just as important to learn to accept what we have. Better to settle for ‘good enough’ than to never settle for anything less than an impossible ideal.

  • Justin Lioi

    Justin Lioi

    December 19th, 2017 at 2:11 PM

    Arnie–thanks for your comment. What you’re talking about brings me back to the Buddhist idea that “grasping” or “desire” is the root of so much disappointment, and I believe that. There’s something to be said for the person who keeps striving for something and doesn’t allow themself to enjoy what they have. I’m writing here about challenging oneself to not repress their desire for more and to use therapy to see what gets in the way of expressing that want. In doing so in a healthy way, we may need to let go of the outcome of whether we’ll get what we want or not, though. But just letting that desire fester inside isn’t helpful for anyone.
    Thanks again for extending the conversation!

  • Kumar C

    Kumar C

    December 18th, 2017 at 4:27 AM

    Absolutely true!!!!!!!!!
    But we have to start from something to live a normal life without any kind of addictions. It’s possible when you have that kind of self-control to do it. Doesn’t matter what people are saying its only about yourself because it is your life.

  • Justin Lioi

    Justin Lioi

    December 19th, 2017 at 2:13 PM

    Thanks for writing, Kumar. I’m not sure what you mean exactly when you say “normal life without any kind of addictions” though. Are you talking about someone who has an addiction and they “need” more, but it’s actually harming them?

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