Over the years I’ve worked with adults, children, families, couples and groups. It has taught me so much about individual struggles, relationship issues, and just basic humanity. I am honored that these folks let me in to be a part of their precious journey.
I think that journey is literally to the heart – finding the courage to unearth so much vulnerability via feelings of hurt, anger, sadness, terror and self-loathing. And, of course a plethora of unmet needs that they don’t even know how to ask for. Helping the partner, family member, groupmate learn (often for the first time as well) how to listen and express empathy and compassion. Allowing the other to validly have their needs.
The journey is about not acting out their hurt, anger and exhaustion. It’s about first getting in touch with what they really are needing in the moment. Last week I wrote about how important unmet needs are in relationships. Today I want to talk about the costs to our relationships when we don’t take responsibility for getting needs met.
When we don’t get enough rest, nutrition, downtime and play we become distracted, easily triggered and can lash out at those we care about without any nefarious intentions. We are what I call displacing our frustration, and NOT voicing (and most importantly taking responsibility for addressing) the fact that we are wiped out and need a break, some help, to say no, etc., etc., etc. Because that would be way to vulnerable. And we’d have to change into someone who had to own their shit.
When we struggle to set boundaries…to say no others and yes to ourselves at times, we will act out. We are secretly hoping someone will come and rescue us from having to do risk setting limits with others and ourselves. Taking care of our needs means learning to keep the focus on ourselves. Not in a self-absorbed way – but a loving, compassionate and accountable self-care way.
Some of us are so disconnected from what we need that we may need to simply practice throughout the day just noticing. What are you feeling? Why does that make sense? Why is that valid! What do you need? Why is that valid? Now, what do you need to ultimately do to address that need? If this is hard to do, it’s simply going to take some time – and a few safe people to practice owning and expressing what you need. That’s one of the reasons I just created our new Facebook group. To give folks a safe place to explore these things. Come join us!
It’s a process. Often a painstaking one that is well worth the effort. Those who love you will feel emotionally safer around you. They will have more trust in and respect for you because they will first intuitively feel something has shifted. Eventually they will come to witness you actually following through with meeting your needs! You are also giving them the blessing to honor their own. You are changing your identity and that of the relationship. Those who don’t or won’t be happy with your transformation are usually too unhealthy to appreciate it. It may feel threatening, as they witness you becoming more empowered. Because they have their own journey – hopefully to do the same.