Designing your relationships: Discover your needs and values


What about needs?

Here are a few things to think about that might help you to understand the concept of personal needs and values from another viewpoint. You might find it helpful to take a sheet of paper and pencil out and jot down your responses to a few questions.

Do you have a need for:

  • Intimacy?
  • Achievement?
  • Results?
  • Companionship?

Consider your own needs for a moment. Do you know what your needs are? Remember, this is something you are doing for yourself, so be honest! Make a list right now of at least 10 needs. Don’t judge them or yourself. Just write a list, very spontaneously, without over thinking or over analyzing anything.

When a need gets met you will likely feel soothed, glad, relieved, excited, accepted, loved, understood, valued or energized.

When a need is not met you will very likely feel upset, angry, disappointed, frustrated, alienated or rejected.

Consider these four questions directly related to your needs:

  1. Can you think of a need (or two) that is being met right now or that has been met in the past?
  2. How do you feel when a need of yours gets met? Can you recall how you felt when one of your needs was not met?
  3. Did you notice that your needs are requirements of something or someone to change, or be different, better or more?
  4. Did you notice any concerns or beliefs that there isn’t anyone in your life who is able or willing to meet your needs? Think about what you noticed and how it made you feel.

If you have trouble identifying your needs, it is an indication you may not even be aware of your needs.

You may not believe that it is okay for you to have any needs. You may be ashamed of having needs and sometimes even not allow yourself to have needs. Or you may have denied that you have needs for so long that a part of you isn’t letting you know.

Whatever your "good" reason, don’t worry, I can assure you that identifying your needs, becoming aware of how your needs can be met and having them met, is a very do-able process!

Would you be surprised to hear that when you have a legitimate need that you cannot meet yourself it is perfectly acceptable and in fact necessary, to ask others to support you in meeting that need? That’s right! We cannot meet all of our own needs. Men and women are not islands unto themselves; we are not totally or completely self-sufficient and self-reliant; and we are not supposed to be.

The word we use to describe the healthy relationship structure that includes asking others to make a change so one of our needs can be met is interdependence. A relationship build on the concept of interdependence is one in which both partners are aware of their own needs; honor their own needs; honor their partner’s needs and hold a value for meeting their own needs when appropriate and asking their partner to change something so their need can be met too.

You may have needs that you haven’t acknowledged; like needing more order in your home or needing someone to let you know when he or she is going to be late. Can you meet that need yourself? No. You cannot. These are two good examples of legitimate needs that require someone else change something so that your (legitimate) need can be met.

Sometimes you can meet your own need – but other times you need someone else to change something so your need can be met.

Once you have identified that it is up to another person, you’ll need to ask that person to make that change. This isn’t always easy – especially if you think that the other person may be resistant to making that change; or may think you are controlling or over-bearing even thinking to ask them to make a change.

By living an authentic and fulfilled life you identify and honor your needs. Honoring your needs means you respect them and ensure that they are met. As I said earlier, you’ll find that you can meet some of your needs yourself; however, you cannot necessarily meet all of them. Some of your needs can, and must, be met by others. This means that you must have people around you who are able to meet your needs and whom you trust to do just that.

What about values?

Have you ever done something you didn't want to do, just because someone else that you cared about wanted you to?

Think about what happened and how it made you feel afterward. What thoughts did you have? Do you remember having any body sensations? Maybe you felt a pain in your gut, your neck hurt or you felt plain sad?

It’s surprising how someone that you care about can influence you to do things that "go against the grain." Initially, you may do things to make that person happy, because you care, but if you find yourself taking actions that are opposed to your values, you will eventually begin to resent this. I’m sure you can imagine what effect this will have on your relationship.

Values in contrast to needs are almost always internally related. Values cannot be met, so to speak, by another person or by external environments or events changing. This is an important distinction between needs and values.

When you commit to a value and act according to that value, you take on a new energy, which, in turn, attracts great success, achievement and personal happiness. You live by your values. Values drive behavior. Values drive all your choices and all your decision-making.

Every time you fail to do what you know is right for you, that which you hold as a value, you lessen your own certainty and ability to create meaningful relationships. You will also find it hard to do work that engages your spirit and your heart. This will, therefore, make it much harder for you live a happy life.

Each time you compromise to be agreeable you give up some of your freedom and you lose some of your vitality.

Remember, only YOU can make it happen!

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