As a therapist, I often work with my clients on aspects of communication. I work with them on being able to identify their needs and being able to speak them to their partner, friends, boss, etc. I also work with them on setting healthy boundaries. Having a solid communication foundation has the potential to really increase successful partnerships.
So, how can you increase your abilities in these very important areas? It starts at home, with you. How good are you at recognizing your own needs? In our fast-paced life many of us get so wrapped up in caring for others that we neglect to notice and care for our own needs. Does this sound familiar to you? Beginning to understand your own needs is a practice of slowing down and tapping into what is going on inside of you.
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Take some deep breaths and check in. What are you really feeling in any given moment? And keep asking that question of yourself until it feels like you have reached your internal truth. When you understand your emotional life, you can begin to understand what you need. This is the next question to ask yourself. What do you need in any given moment? If you are feeling disconnected, perhaps you need some time with a particular partner to feel more connected, etc. It is the tapping into of your internal landscape that will allow you to understand your needs vs. your desires or fears.
Once you tackle the steps of understanding your emotions and discovering your needs, you can begin setting boundaries where you need them. Up above, I mentioned how some of us get stuck in the mode of doing lots for others but neglecting our own needs. This is where you can begin to change that. Healthy relationships include healthy boundaries. When your fears (like the fear of being alone, or the fear of hurting someone's feelings) get in your face, it is really difficult to create boundaries.
It is also difficult if you have spent your life seeing to the needs of others rather than your own. When you understand your needs more you can see where a boundary needs to be placed. You will begin to notice when your needs get pushed aside and that is where the boundary might go. This all takes some practice but the first step is beginning to know yourself—your emotions and then your needs.
The final step in all of this is communicating your needs and boundaries to your partners. This one takes a lot of courage, especially if this is very far outside of your comfort zone. Something to remember is that your needs are just as important as anyone else's. I have found affirmations to that effect to be beneficial. You have a right to have your needs met, as do all of the others around you. It can be quite a dance to see all satisfied, but, oh the abundance it will bring when you accomplish it!
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