Do you know what you need?
Some needs are transitory. For example, after an intense period of labour or busyness, we may need rest.
Some needs are more enduring, and are necessary in the same way that it is necessary that houses built on soft ground have deep piles driven into the soil beneath them; if we don't have them, then subsistence is likely difficult.
The tricky thing about needs, is that we cannot meet all of them for ourselves, all of the time.
Some of us sure try (hello fiercely independent ones), and some of us realise that it's a little more complex than that and that it's important we instead work on cultivating something that looks more like interdependence.
If you look at those relationships in your life that you consider the strongest and the most valued by you, do you notice that you and the other(s) meet certain needs for each other? Could you identify them?
One of the reasons that many of us struggle in certain areas of life is because we do not properly identify and act according to our needs. Additionally, we might encounter that advocating for our needs without considering those of others, which may be different to our own, also results in complications.
There are many possible reasons driving these dynamics, but instead of trying to identify all those reasons, let's consider what (life-)affirmative actions might be available in the direction of getting more needs met - both your own, and those of others.
In a moment I'll share a laundry list of needs. The invitation for you is this: Identify your top two needs, either met or unmet, and ask yourself the following three questions in relation thereto.
1) On average, is this need sufficiently met?
2) Is it possible for me to meet this need without someone else?
3) What action or commitment is available to me today to either have this need met or ensure it continues being met moving forward?
Allow your instincts to guide you as you run your eyes down the list, and avoid over-thinking. If something stands out, it is probably relevant for you to consider at this moment.
Needs based in ACCEPTANCE Acknowledgement Appreciation Gratitude Reassurance Representation Self-acceptance Self-respect Support To be heard To be known To be seen To matter Needs based in AWARENESS Clarity Consciousness Discovery Focus Learning Perspective To know To see Understanding Needs based in AUTONOMY Authenticity Choice Dignity Freedom Identity Independence Learning Liberation Perspective To know To see Understanding Needs based in CARE Affection Closeness Compassion Consideration Empathy Intimacy Love Mutuality Nurturing Reciprocity Self-care Needs based in CONNECTION Belonging Inclusion Collaboration Cooperation Communication Community Companionship Friendship Interdependence Participation Partnership Presence Self-connection Shared reality Synergy Trust Needs based in MEANING Challenge Communion Competence Contribution Creativity Depth Diversity Efficiency Effectiveness Engagement Flow Growth Honesty Inspiration Integration Integrity Mourning Progress Purpose Respect Needs based in PEACE Balance Beauty Consistency Ease Equanimity Faith Harmony Hope Order Peace of mind Stability Needs based in PLAY Adventure Aliveness Celebration Excitement Fun Humour Joy Relaxation Stimulation Needs based in PHYSICAL WELL-BEING Breath Comfort Exercise Health Hydration Movement Nutrition Rest Safety Sexual expression Shelter Touch Warmth
All humans have the same basic needs, though they may differ in importance. That makes developing your awareness over what needs are and how to meet them a very unifying skill set.
Interpretations, criticisms, diagnoses, and judgments of others are generally alienated expressions of our own unmet needs. As alluded to above, attempting to meet our own needs at the expense of others is at the heart of many conflicts. A sense of genuine emotional liberation involves stating clearly what we need in a way that communicates we are equally concerned that the needs of the others be fulfilled.
One of the most thoughtful things you can do...
Identifying and meeting needs in others is one of the most thoughtful and meaningful things you can do for them.
I saw a post on LinkedIn recently where a woman, who is mother and business owner, was reflecting on the fact that she has no recollection of the last time in her life where she got to wake up and do nothing, rather than thinking about all of the people she needed to care for and attend to and the jobs she had to sort out. A gentleman in the comments said something along the lines of "Oh my wife says the same thing quite often."
*Ding ding ding!* ...maybe I'm wrong, but I reckon that's a woman he could make pretty darn happy by surprising her with a morning of not having to think about everyone else and taking care of things for her. What need to you think that could meet (hint: it could be quite a few listed above)?
Not sure if you would be meeting a need for someone by taking a certain action? You can always ask them...!
"Honey, I noticed that life seems pretty full for you at the moment. How would it feel if you took a sleep in tomorrow and I sort the kids' school lunches and drop them off?"
As always, it's pretty difficult to pour from an empty cup. So I do suggest you start with you, and visit the exercise set out above first.
And even if you are already pretty good at having your needs met, perhaps this reflection will help you to have greater presence when doing so, and hence reinforce a sense of gratitude for the small (but important) things.
As I mentioned in last week's newsletter, two of the key drivers for our mental well-being are agency and gratitude (in their verb forms), and I think this exploration does a pretty decent job of supporting both.
I'd love to hear from you on what you discover by engaging in this. Feel welcome to reply (...needs for connection... to be seen, to be heard?).
Thank you for showing up.
Keep showing up.
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