Ho, Ho, Ho! Needs are a Gift!
~ Compassionate Santa
What are needs?
- They motivate everything we say or do.
- They are “life energies” that exist within each one of us.
- They are universal – everyone has the same ones.
- They are general and do not involve a person doing a specific action (in contrast to “strategies” which are specific actions intended to meet needs).
- They provide a path to resolving conflict (i.e. when we can see the need another person was attempting to meet when they behaved in a way we didn’t enjoy, we can move beyond judgments and labels and to connection)
- Other language for needs: wants, values, “what matters,” “what’s important,” motivations
“Needs are a gift!? I don’t think so.”
Like with Marshall Rosenberg’s teaching that there is nothing we “have to” do, I was skeptical when I heard his teachings about the value and beauty of needs many years ago. As a recovering “people-pleaser” with great skill at guessing at other’s needs and acting to meet them rather than even noticing my own, I was practiced at de-valuing myself while “serving” others. Even though my people-pleasing behavior led to a total loss of connection to my life energy (i.e. depression), I was still hooked on a core belief that my needs didn’t matter. “Wasn’t attending to my needs selfish?” I thought.
Since then, I have practiced connecting, honoring and nurturing my needs on a daily basis. When I’m stressed or triggered, rather than ignoring or suppressing my emotions, I tune into them and let them guide me to my needs. The results are powerful. When I connect with my needs through the skill of self-empathy, my energy increases and nature puts into my minds ways to meet these needs. It’s a miraculous process.
When we help others connect with their needs through the skill of empathy for others, their vitality and energy also increases. When energy is high, we can more easily move in the world effectively and compassionately!
My Gift to You: The Universal Needs Wheel
I recently came across this very cool graphic depiction of needs. It provides support to help us try on different needs when we are triggered. I shared this wheel at the foundations training I recently led and several participants said they found value in it. I invite you to look it over and, when you feel your emotions rising and you are uncertain why, see if any of the words listed fit for you. You might be surprised at what you find!