What are your needs? Have you ever been asked, or even asked yourself? Are you aware of the power identifying them can have? I’m not sure I was.
It’s not something we give time to because we believe it to be some kind of background information that is obvious and that everyone is aware of and understands. In fact we rarely allow any time at all to look at ourselves and who we truly are, what makes us tick and what makes us go at a deeper level; what drives us in some areas and withdraws us from others. In reality it’s not simple and not palpable. Our needs are complex and deep and sometimes painful and uncomfortable to reveal but the potential for improving self-awareness by doing so is vast and can have magnificent consequences.
The reptilian brain still exists in all of us. This is the instinctive part of our brain that keeps us alive; its goal is simply to survive. As babies we rely completely on someone to keep our hearts beating. We have needs, and if they are not met the reaction that triggers inside us is that we are going to die, because we would. That never completely goes away; as we grow older when our needs are not met, usually we do not associate this with death however our reptilian brain does produce a response related. This may be sweating, heart racing, tightening of the body; all kinds of symptoms, which prepare us for either, fight or flight.
The way this response settles is by our needs being met. All these physical, social, emotional and psychological needs that we each have drive our behaviour. If we can identify those needs and understand how they affect us we can look at more healthy ways to get them met. By bringing our needs out of our subconscious and becoming more aware of them, we can gain more control over our lives and adapt appropriately.
An essential part of looking at our needs is understanding that others aren’t going to always (if ever) know exactly what they are. Those we have the highest rapport with, can and will hazard a guess as to what we need and quite often they might be right. But essentially we simply can’t expect others to know our needs and act in a way that always satisfies them. Particularly when we consider that they have their own needs they are trying to get met also; this is how conflict can arise. You can’t expect others to know your needs when you haven’t expressed them clearly and concisely. The first step to doing this is to spend time understanding them yourself first.
Imagine you are driving through your dream destination, taking in the incredible sights and the awe-inspiring scenery, but all of a sudden you need the toilet. Now instead of seeing all the wonders around you, the only thing you can focus on is finding the nearest toilet. As soon as you do, and you have met this physical need you can then begin enjoying your journey once more. Everyday examples might be less obvious, but the principle is still the same. In order to enjoy life and get the most out of it we need to be getting our needs met. Automatically we will surround ourselves with people who meet them; they are the people we are attracted to and enjoy spending time with. However when we find ourselves falling into the response of fight or flight, it is helpful to step back and pause for a moment considering which needs feel compromised or are not being met at all and consequently behave in a way that appropriately moves us closer to getting them met. The power of this is remarkable.
This week I have identified needs of my own I didn’t even realise I had. It has taken some digging and a certain degree of discomfort and pushing my own boundaries. It can trigger all kinds of emotions and often we will find needs we are not necessarily proud of but it’s important to be honest with yourself to get the best results. By doing this I have noticed patterns in my behaviour, thoughts and feelings which I can now take myself away from by making a conscious effort to meet my needs and tell people with positive intent what they are. A quote by Art Williams I read every day at the gym is, ‘I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.’ That’s how I feel about this, but I encourage everyone to spend some time on themselves identifying needs and noticing how empowering and ‘worth it’ that can be.
Written by Maimee Morris – Intern.