“It’s never overreacting to ask for what you want and need.” ― Amy Poehler
Many of us have learned to align our actions with what others expect of us or with expectations we have created for ourselves to feel accepted by others. Too many times we are willing to settle or negotiate when it comes to honoring or fulfilling our needs for fear that they are either out of line, or do not deserve to be honored and fully respected by another. We are taught about compromise and memorize the “you can’t always get what you want” slogan by age 10. This statement in and of itself causes us to not express ourselves, stand for what we want, or align ourselves to all we can have and create for ourselves.
Often times we desire to have experiences with deeper meaning and connection but are not looking at how our behaviors and actions are not actually aligning with this desire. This causes our needs to move further away from us rather than closer to our “need” center. When you do a basic internet search for needs checklist you get results for moving day, the grocery store or project management. When we have learned to push our needs aside and do not even know how to identify what they are, our search provides further confirmation that needs aren’t that important unless they involve the basics — food and shelter. Joy, happiness, love, human connection are “nice to haves.” We are conditioned to believe these are selfish desires and that they are not always realistic, so we revert back to living our lives from a lack standpoint, that we must work a job we hate or stay in an unhappy marriage or relationship.
Needs are whatever we determine them to be. Sometimes we need to go through certain experiences in our life to determine what it actually is that we need. It is important that we are critically honest with ourselves when we make this determination. In order to align ourselves with what we need we must look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are making ourselves available for what we need. If our behavior is contrary to having these needs met, we are called to change our behavior. If we do not want to be in debt and we need to be financially secure for example, we must change our behavior to allow this need to be fulfilled. If we want honest and open communication with our spouse, but we always receive the opposite from them, we may need to re-evaluate the relationship with either them or with ourselves. If we need to feel loved and supported but never accept any support, cordoning ourselves off to love, we are basically doing the antithesis of meeting our needs — we are actively rejecting them. Needs align with action.
Ask yourself how it would feel to live your entire life without your needs ever being met?
The first step in determining your needs is feeling into your heart space to see what is most desired in your life. Then ask yourself how it would feel to live your entire life without it. Based on your response, you can determine if it is a “passing fancy” or a need. Desires change over time, and although needs may, for the most part they stay with you throughout the course of your life. An example would be “I need to feel loved.” I ask you to go a step deeper here and ask “In what way is it that I need to feel loved?” Get in touch with your love language. Do you feel loved when someone says it, when they give you a gift, when they do a chore for you, or when they spend time with you? How do you receive this love? Someone can love you in the opposite way of what you need. You must get in touch with your needs intimately so that they are clear to both you and articulated to others. If you need to make $5k a month to pay your bills and you get a job offer for $2k it’s not what you need. The same goes for love and friendships. If you accept things in your life that are not aligned with your needs it will begin to cause you great distress.
Are you allowing your needs to be met?
Once you determine your needs, you can then as a second step ask if they are currently being met by either yourself or your immediate circle of influence, professional and/or personal. If they are not being met, have you communicated this to the other party? Have you taken a look at your behavior and if you have allowed your needs to be met by the other? If we are fearful of getting hurt for example or we are extremely independent, have we allowed someone else to support us, have we allowed ourselves to depend on another, have we opened our heart? If the answer is yes and our needs are still not being met, we must now communicate them to the other without being afraid of what may happen. They may not be well received, acknowledged or honored. This is where we need to make sure we have tried our best to communicate to the other party in a way that they are able to receive the information. This may take stepping outside of our traditional and natural communication style. How does the other party process information? If we have tried our best to work with the other person and our needs are not respected, we must honor our own needs. We do this by eliminating the people, places and things that are not honoring our needs. You may have noticed or maybe not, that whenever you fearlessly follow the path that most honors and respects your being, the universe aligns to support this. This is exemplified in the Devil Wears Prada. When we give up self-sabotaging behavior, we suddenly find that our surroundings that were waiting to honor us come out to cheer.
Are you afraid to commit to your needs?
In order to align ourselves with our needs we have to know what we bring to the table. If we need to be respected, are we respecting ourselves enough to eliminate anything that is not respectful? I do not mean tolerate, wait for a situation to become respectful, hope it will become respectful, but eliminate. If we want honesty we need to be honest, with ourselves mostly. Am I supporting my own needs through my environment, friend, career, and daily choices? If we want faithfulness, we need to be faithful (to ourselves). If we want to be healthy we need to eat things that contribute to our health and move our body and free our mind. In order to do so we have to investigate. What is healthy, what exercises work for me, have I worked through my emotional traumas? Am I committed to having my needs met and/or meeting my own needs, or do I flake out on myself with excuses? If we are not embodying the life we need we must call ourselves to make the necessary changes. I understand that no one likes the feeling of being rejected and that is why we don’t enforce our needs, but keep in mind you are already being rejected on a regular basis my having your needs actively ignored anyway.
From experience it starts with building value, love, and respect within. This is not an immediate and straightforward path and it is not for the faint of heart. Once you start and the more effort you dedicate to it however, the better you can define your needs and the less you accept treatment, environments or experiences that don’t honor them. Don’t get me wrong, you will still encounter challenges because this is life, but you won’t stick around for long.