As we approached the ride’s bright red, blue, and yellow sign – promising we would experience thrills and amazement – the wait time counter moved from 30 to 50 minutes. We took a few moments to decide if it would be worth our wait and quickly jumped into the growing line. The line was moving slowly, but we only paused a few times in the first 30 minutes as we looped our way back and forth, following in the maze of steel rails.

One more switchback and we were descending down the last bit of line…or so we thought…before entering the ride. At about 40 minutes into our wait we were stopped 10 feet from the door and my friend moved in front of her children, leaned up, and whispered in my ear that the guy behind her was driving her nuts. Every time she moved, he was walking on top of her heels and when she stopped she could feel his hot breath on the back of her neck. As she speculated the reasons behind the teenagers behavior, her son Mark taught us all a great lesson.

Apparently when my friend moved forward in the line, her 12 year old son (Mark) was then left with the clingy stranger. Based on the look of disgust and aggravation on his face, he too had had enough of this teenager behind him in line. Mark turned around and politely, but firmly told the stranger, “I need at least two feet of personal space.” The stranger took off his sunglasses and backed up. At this point I’m thinking he may get angry or upset, and prepared myself to defend Mark (at least a foot shorter than the teen). Instead, he didn’t do anything, and he never once walked or stopped too close again.

How is it that a 12 year old could ask for what he needed, but the 40 something year old mom couldn’t? As adults we have formed all sorts of barriers to our ability to ask for what we need and want. Faulty core beliefs – I’m not worthy, I’m don’t deserve, The world’s not a safe place… These lead us to second guess how we go about getting what we need and want. As women we were doubly doomed, because like so many of that generation, we carry the false beliefs of how we must interact with others – Don’t make others angry, Never appear needy, Put other’s needs in front of your own… All of these feed into our beliefs that if we ask for what we need and want we must be too aggressive, too weak, or too angry.

It took a 12 year old to remind us that asking for what we want and need is okay. This also reminded me of the probing questions I ask of my clients in an attempt to uncover those faulty beliefs and work towards dismantling them.

When is the last time you suppressed a need or want? When is the last time you asked for what you needed or wanted? What prevented you from asking? What would your life look like if you didn’t carry around these fears?

Lauren Somers holds a LPCC in the State of California, a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology, certification in EFT (energy psychology), and over 19 years of experience in delivering counseling to adolescents and adults in individual and group settings. She hosts a private practice in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area where she endeavors to understand her client’s story and weaves the traditional therapeutic modalities with a bit of shamanic healing, energy psychology, and mindfulness to bring about growth and healing.