As someone raised in Ireland, I have often found one of the greatest difficulties I had in life was asking for something when I needed it. As such, I often found myself in positions where I was asking for things at the eleventh hour. This scenario generated stress and anxiety for myself. As a result, when I did ask for what I needed, I probably come across pushy and demanding because the need had become urgent.

When we learn to prioritise our needs, it leads to a state of organisation and calm. From this space, it becomes far easier to meet the needs of those around us. There is a fine line between prioritising our own needs and acting selfishly. 

Selfishness is defined as "the quality or state of being where one is lacking of consideration for other people". Like most things, simply shining the light of awareness on selfish actions goes a long way to dispelling their effect.

Identifying our needs is wholly different in quality from feeding our desires. It takes a certain level of growth and understanding to recognise the difference. At the same time, we must not underestimate the depth and breath of our needs as human beings.

A helpful trick in speeding up this process is to ask those around you what their needs might be. Start the conversation. If it is a struggle to cast your gaze inward, it can be easier to start by learning from others. For example, why not ask a close friend the extent to which they value alone time? This might become a helpful yard stick to understanding when you might be spreading yourself a bit too thinly across your week.

Learn to ask. Learn to ask sooner, rather than later. Remember, if you think what you're asking is weird or uncomfortable, all the more reason to ask. If a person is offended by what you're asking, regrettably it says more about them than you. Simply prepare yourself to accept such a withdrawal so you may not think too much of it.

Nevertheless, be brave, speak your truth, and ask for what you need, when you need it. Eventually, you will know to ask for something before you need it. This will lead to a state of organisation and calm from which you will be able to identify those around you who may be presently in need. This is the moment that you will be the one in the position to help.

In closing, I leave you with the fifth shloka from chapter three of the Bhagavad Gita (translated by Eknath Easwaran):

"Fullfill all your duties; action is better than inaction. Even to maintain your body, Arjuna, you are obliged to act. Selfish action imprisons the world. Act seflessly, without any thought of personal profit."