In working with clients, I’ve encountered a great deal of resistance surrounding needs. For some reason, we live in a society that perceives people who have needs as weak and unsavory. Yet the presence of needs does not make you weak. In fact, needs are universal and essential requirements that must be satisfied in order for you to live happily.
I’ve seen one too many women stop themselves from truly succeeding as a result of poorly met needs and limiting beliefs. These twin factors—needs and beliefs—literally shape the way you perceive and respond to your world. They drive your behavior—and if you’re not conscious of them, they can drive you right into a ditch of dissatisfaction and despair.
One Thing to Think About
Needs in and of themselves are not good or bad. In fact, they’re neutral. The strategies you’ve adopted to meet your needs, on the other hand, can be either empowering or disempowering. While you may not have control over the fact that your needs exist, you do have absolute governance over the strategies you put in place to meet them.
In a nutshell, human beings do what works. If one of your needs in early childhood was to get attention, which is a common and universal requirement and you learned that whenever you behaved badly you would get attention—even negative attention—chances are you developed a pattern of bad behavior.
While your strategy may not have served a higher need or supported you in being your best self, it worked. Your brain, being the efficient machine that it is, then catalogued this information. Now, as a responsible, thinking, upstanding adult, you may be surprised to find yourself engaging in fits of bad behavior whenever you feel lacking in attention. Yet, you will continue to engage in this kind of behavior until you consciously develop a more empowering alternative.
One Question to Answer
How many times have you found yourself blowing up or over-reacting to a situation, and even though you knew this was what was happening, and still found yourself unable to stop the proceedings? This was most likely the result of not getting one or more of your needs met. For example, if one of your needs is to have the approval of your boss, then a critical remark from her might set off a reaction far out of proportion to the actual event. When this happens, your needs are controlling your behavior. The most important thing you can do is to take back that control for yourself.
Once you identify and proactively satisfy your needs, your capacity to embrace the fullness of life will astound you. You will take control of your behavior. Then, and only then, will you have the opportunity to experience the fulfillment you seek.
One Challenge to Take
1. Over the next week, make a note of your feelings during interactions or situations that trigger strong emotional responses. Pay special attention to those times when you recognized that your behavior was not as constructive as it could be, and make notes about your feelings specific to each of those occurrences.
2. After the week is up, review your log and look for patterns and try to discern what needs are behind them. Do you always blow up when someone is running late and causing you to be late? Why? Perhaps you have a need to be seen as prompt or reliable, or maybe you feel that being late is disrespectful and one of your needs is to be respectful. Or perhaps you find their behavior makes you look bad, and maybe you need the approval of others. Whatever it is, write down your best guess as to what need is behind your response. Remember – your needs are neither positive nor negative. Only your strategies for meeting these needs are at issue here.
3. Look at your response—is it helping or hindering your ability to meet the needs associated with that situation? What might be a better way to meet that need or resolve the issues preventing it from being met?
4. Identify the triggers that set off unproductive responses and then create new strategies for responding in those situations that will replace your unproductive reactions with productive, positive responses. Visualize yourself taking these more positive actions until you get a chance to put them into practice. Keep visualizing and practicing until these positive responses are second nature.
Until next time, take care!