How a Beggar Taught Me The Reason I Don’t Get What I Ask For


“You can’t ever give people what they want. But you can give them something else. You can give them empathy. You can give them understanding. And that’s a lot, and enough to give.”
—Amanda Palmer

I’ve always known the power of asking. I’ve read about it from Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking.” Amanda said; “Those who ask without fear learn to say two things, with or without words, to those they are facing: I deserve to ask and you are welcome to say no.”

I’ve heard Robbin Sharma talked about the need to ask; “the person who asks for what he wants at least has a chance of getting what he wants. The person who does not ask has no chance.” I know these but it hasn’t been easy asking people to help me out. Mostly I gather courage and ask, but they find a beautiful way to say no to me. ‘No’ crashes my spirit. It’s as though the world came crashing down on me.

Now it’s safe for me to turn Robin Shama’s quote around; “the person who asks for what he wants at least has a chance of getting NO for an answer.  When I don’t ask, nobody can tell me no. But I will be suffering. I can’t do everything by myself. At some point, I have to ask—ask for help.

Recently I had to travel about four hours to a meeting that only lasted for about 5 minutes. I had my hopes high that they were going to listen to me and say yes to my offer. I’ve spent all week rehearsing my words and sharpening my presentation skills. When I got there, the man in charge looked at me and said; “We’ve gone through your proposal. It looks great but we are not ready to run a program like this.” He wouldn’t let me say a word and called the meeting off.

I was crushed to pieces. Why do they always call the something great and still go ahead and say no to same? I picked my bag and left the compound. Immediately I stepped out of the entrance, there was this beggar pitching camp just after the entrance. I saw him when I was going in. I didn’t pay him much attention. I can dimly recall that he tried getting my attention—he tried signaling me to give him something but I didn’t look his way. This time, immediately when he saw me, he screamed; “Give me a smile, it’s not the end of the world!”

The grin on his face while he said that went straight for my heart. Instantly I started grinning with him. Within that splitting moment, I forgot about my disappointment and started smiling along. First, he asked for money. I couldn’t give him. Then he asked for a smile and I gave it out without hesitation. The lesson is this; usually, people don’t give away the things they can’t afford to give, but if you rightly ask for what is available to them and can give away, they do it freely.

“Ask, and it shall be given” but people can’t give you what they themselves lack, or people can’t give you what they can’t afford to let go. Usually, it sounds like what you are asking for is too small and can do no harm to whom you are asking from but remember, you have the right to ask and people you ask from also have the right to say no. Amanda says “You can’t ask authentically and gracefully without truly being able to accept “No” for an answer. Because if you’re not truly willing to accept “No” for an answer, you’re not really asking, you’re demanding — you’re begging.”

READ ALSO: These are the questions life asks of you every day. How do you answer?

The problems of our lives can’t be solved by ourselves alone. We’ll need people to say yes to us along the way. Other people’s inputs in our lives help to lessen our burdens. When the going gets tough, ask—ask for help but know what you are asking and whom you are asking from. When you ask more than they could give you, they’ll say no to you. Don’t begrudge them, they to have their own burdens they are looking for someone to share with.

‘No’ simply means ask again—ask again from another person and be sure you are asking them what they can easily let go.


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