What do you really need?

When we express our needs indirectly through the use of evaluations, interpretations, and images, others are likely to hear criticism. And when people hear anything that sounds like criticism, they tend to invest their energy in self-defense or counterattack. If we wish for a compassionate response from others, it is self-defeating to express our needs by interpreting or diagnosing their behavior. Instead, the more directly we can connect our feelings to our own needs, the easier it is for others to respond to us compassionately. Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships

This time, we’re turning our minds to the ideas and insights around non-violent communication. This form of communication teaches us that, to be able to connect with our needs, we first have to gain clarity about what’s alive in us. In any given situation, there are many points of views and sometimes we’re quick to assume why others behave the way they do. This can create confusion and lead to endless misunderstandings.

A useful way to break that vicious cycle is to pause for a moment and ask ourselves: what’s the behaviour I can observe? What do I actually see? And then, how does that make me feel? Am I sad, angry, happy? What’s alive in my heart then? And what are my true needs? Do I need safety? Maybe it’s acknowledgement I’m needing, or connection. And now that I know my need, how could I make a request that helps fulfill that need, without demanding or forcing people to do what I want?

Here’s a simple practice that will help you have a deeper understanding of what you may be experiencing, and also one that helps us get out of our heads!

Name the situation that’s troubling you:

E.g.: My partner doesn’t understand me!

Now let’s see what happens when you can get more clarity by stating the following:

1- What’s the observable behavior or event?
Not what you think, suppose or imagine, but what you actually see/hear/observe

I see:

E.g.: I see them giving me advice on how to solve a problem at work.

2- What’s the fantasy that’s going on in your head about that situation? WHat do you think/believe is happening?::

I imagine/think:

E.g.: I imagine they want to find a solution so they won’t have to hear me talk about it.

3- What emotions are alive in you right now? Are you sad, happy, afraid, content, excited?
This is not how others make you feel (I feel abandoned), but the actual emotions you are experiencing.

I feel:

E.g.: I feel sad, lonely and afraid.

4- What’s the core need that needs to be met? Is it safety, connection, acknowledgement, love, privacy?
This is not what you want others to do, but your actual core need:

I need:

E.g.: I need empathy and understanding.

5- Now that you know what you need. How could you formulate a clear non-demanding request that helps you satisfy that need?

I ask of you:

E.g.: Could you please hear me out and empathise? I don’t really need a solution right now, I just need reassurance that you are here for me.

When you can identify your core needs, you can begin to think of ways to meet them - whether on your own or by clearly communicating it to people you trust to support you. Try this exercise and let us know what you discover.

As always, please remember that to have a safe experience as you go through this unsupervised work, it is essential to be mindful of and respect your own limits, times and natural rhythms. Don’t push yourself or go beyond what is comfortable or feels right for you. If you require additional support or want to deepen these practices drop us a message at hello@desajustecreativo.com. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive new resources and explorations.

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