Identifying and Communicating Your Needs
Last month we talked about working moms wearing busyness as a badge of honor. The result is exhaustion, overwhelm, and resentment. We discussed making space for yourself to think and evaluate what you need. Read the full article here: Self-Care is not “Selfish”
This month we will focus on your needs.
Needs, you have them, whether you realize it or not. We have trained ourselves to stuff our needs and desires. The cost is the accumulation of stress in our bodies, causing illness, pain, & fatigue. We must adjust this if we are to live a fulfilled and joyful life.
What prevents us from meeting our needs?
The first thing that comes to mind is the word fear. Fear of being seen as weak, incompetent, or not having it all together, because “having it all together” is celebrated and rewarded by our society. Fear of rejection is another thing that prevents us from asking for what we need, “what if we are told no?”
Another possible reason is when we think about the possibility of meeting our needs your brain automatically shifts to the negative (your brain loves to pay more attention to the negative). It asks “what do I want to eliminate? Or thinks, “there’s no time for me, everything else is more important!”
Let’s try some different thoughts!
What if we asked ourselves this instead? “What do I need that feels missing?” “What do I need to add in my life that will refresh me and give me strength?
The cost of neglecting your needs is that you continue to suffer feeling alone, tired, and resentful. Can I say, you no longer need to live like that?
This may be all you need to expand your possibilities.
For those who may not be as in tune to your own needs. (You are a rock star at knowing everyone else’s needs!) If you are having trouble figuring out what you really need, try expanding your thinking by looking at a list of needs. There are many lists out there to choose from, but here’s one to get your brain primed to think outside the box.
Now that you have determined your needs, the next step is to consider how we will attain them.
What we’ve seen modeled for us is that to have your needs met, you need to get angry or induce guilt. What if it didn’t have to be that way?
Here are three steps to communicating your needs and getting them met without getting angry:
- Once you discover what you need, use your voice, and ask for it gently, directly, and specifically. Now, most of us stumble here, but adding attitude and demands, this automatically shuts down the other person and puts them on defense. Instead try to come to the conversation with the idea that you are going to connect with the other person during this time. If we want to affect change, we need to begin by connecting. Observe what you are experiencing in your body and mind. Notice it without judgment, try not to control the thoughts or stuff them. Intentionally put on empathy and think, how would I best receive a request? Again, notice what you feel internally as you approach the situation with empathy. Give yourself permission to have this conversation.
- Now that you’ve prepared your inner self, think about the facts. Before speaking, get very specific about expressing what the pattern has been, and what you would like to see going forward, once you are clear about the pattern, your feelings and what you need, you have the information necessary to have a calm and direct, mutually respectful conversation.
- In a good conversation, the parties are listening to understand, they are listening with respect. As you begin, try to reframe the conversation from a transaction to a conversation. I’d like to ask your help to solve a problem. I’ve noticed a pattern with myself and I’m feeling (your feeling), I was wondering if we can brainstorm solutions so that (your need) can happen. It’s more likely that you will create buy in when you can engage in a non-judgmental, non-accusatory conversation vs. a transactional conversation. This takes practice, so begin with things that are not emotionally charged for you but do make the effort to get your needs met.
If they say no, you can ask if they have ideas about who might be able to help. Just a word of encouragement, do not let a “no” stop you from finding ways to get your own needs met. Your wellness depends upon it. Reach out if I can help.
Next month, we will talk about self-compassion and why it’s important.