Understanding Our Needs
Generally at some point in my coaching work, the subject of ‘needs’ will arise in one way or another. When we get to talking about this, most people look at me like I’m mad! They have often never been asked what they need in their lives to feel really connected to themselves. However, isn’t it interesting when we explore this subject, it becomes quite clear where they are experiencing ‘unmet needs’.
To bring this to life, one of my clients, (a female) is amazing at looking after other people and is increasingly understanding that this is a way that she has traditionally felt emotionally safe. If others feel good, then she can feel good about herself. The problem with this is that other people are inconsistent, so to depend on others for our sense of self can put a lot of pressure and expectation on self and others and ultimately leads to disappointment. It also means that we are not connected to ourselves and understanding the pattern that drives our behaviour can be liberating. Once this client understood her need to ‘rescue’ others, she can now catch it and check her motivation before intervening.
Taking the focus off self and nurturing others is a very common pattern that I see in females that I coach, we are almost hard-wired to look after others, often at the expense of ourselves. I generally have to teach women that it is actually unselfish to get really clear on your needs. Why is this? Well eventually if you don’t look after yourself, someone else is going to have to look after you so ultimately you are creating what you don’t want!!
Another (male) client has been in the role of provider for his family for his whole career. He is in his late 40’s and is starting to ask the question ‘what is life all about?’ – he has a yearning for more, but doesn’t know what that more is. He is pretty disconnected from himself, in the role of provider, in his words ‘you just push on and get things done’. This pushing eventually is exhausting, it is hard to keep this role up for life, so at some point, a lot of people start to think about purpose in life and what they are truly here to do. This is such a big topic that it deserves a blog post of its own, but for the purposes of what we are discussing here today, what I find is that when people start to get in touch with their needs, their purpose can often become clearer.
We usually start by the individual identifying under a few areas that are important to them some actions / reflections to consider. A sample of areas to think about include: physical, spiritual, financial, family, romance, friendship, career, and purpose to name a few.
We traditionally would goal set in these areas but now we are looking at them in a deeper way thinking about what are the steps that we can take to nourish our soul. An example of this might be: a client of mine needs to have a massage every week to help relax his body, he had been denying himself this as he was feeling guilty about spending money on himself. Guilt is a wasted emotion, but that is a topic for another blog! When we looked at the rationale towards him having a weekly massage, he could see that it made sense to invest in himself in this way, he felt more relaxed, more connected to himself, more present with others and generally a nicer person to be around!
One of my other clients found that through identifying his needs to do something physically active every day, he lost weight, became quite motivated about life again and is even considering a career change to open a gym for the over 50’s!
I have another client who through the practise of meditation has become very connected to his soul and has started a big journey in giving back to others in society who are less fortunate than him. He feels more alive and what he is doing is changing people’s lives. There is a humility in the way that he does this as it comes from his soul, rather than being driven by his ego.
So it’s ok to think about yourself and what you need. In fact it’s more than ok, it’s necessary. When you can fill yourself up from inside, you are clearer and happier and more available for others!!
Reflection thought starters:
If you were to start thinking about your needs, where would be a good place to start?
When you notice yourself thinking about this, do any negative thoughts arise, such as ‘it’s selfish’ – if so, how could you quiet that voice and be kind to yourself?
How might you get started on fulfilling your needs?
What support would you need from others in your life to help you with this?