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“Speak your Needs” if you work with me or interact with me you will hear those words come out of my mouth now and then. I am a big believer that we all (especially woman) need to get a little better about speaking our needs. In reality, we need to get better about knowing our needs, or better yet even being aware that we have needs.
The scenario is a simple one; you come home from work, and you want to go out to dinner. You are tired, and the idea of coming up with what to cook again is just too daunting. As you walk in the door, you notice your partner already wearing his ‘comfy clothes’ lounging on the couch, and you assume that you are ‘in for the night.’ You go through “the what to make for dinner debate, ” and you both prepare a nice meal. You still had visions of going out to dinner. You never shared that scenario with your partner. You swallow the need that you want to eat out and ‘make do’ with eating in. In this scenario, you didn’t even give your partner the chance to go out–you just ASSUMED they wouldn’t want to eat out.
I agree that example is silly and benign.
But it is the beginning of the belief system that: ‘my needs don’t matter,’ there is no point in speaking up,’ and ‘I won’t get heard anyway.’
How often do the words “It doesn’t matter,” “I don’t care,” “whatever, you want” come out of your mouth?
The thing about needs is when we ignore them for long enough they get more and quieter, and harder and harder to hear. They don’t become any less important they just become harder to pay attention to. Too often for the sake of safety, for peace, we ignore our needs. And then on a larger scale, it becomes harder and harder to say what we need or want out of our lives.
The other tricky thing about needs is just because we speak a need doesn’t mean it has to get met. So had you come home and said to your partner “I want to go out to dinner tonight” your partner had the right to say, “Aw, I just put on my comfy pants and was planning on hanging out at home.”
THEN…you can dig a little deeper and figure out why you want to go out to dinner.
Is it too?
- Connect with your partner in a different way than eating in front of the TV
- Sit outside and enjoy the evening air
- Too tired to come up with dinner and just don’t want to cook.
Depending on what it is you NEED from going out to dinner you can then negotiate with your partner and say:
“Ok, well let’s eat at the dinner table tonight,” or
“let’s eat outside” or
“let’s order in” or
“can you make dinner tonight I am too tired.”
So it can then be a win-win. You can get your need met and so can your partner!
Start paying attention to your needs. Even if you don’t express them all the time, just start building awareness that you do have needs. Get in the habit of exploring what it is you need in any given situation.
Our needs give us insight into our dreams, our passions and what we value. As we start noticing and sharing our needs, we will naturally live happier because we will be more authentically engaging with the world.