How can I learn to identify my needs?
And announcing a new online practice group!
Last Friday, I sent a newsletter edition on how we can move beyond having “only” two options to find ways of addressing the needs of both people involved in a disagreement.
In response to my newsletter, a reader sent me this question:
Today’s newsletter answers this question—and brings you info about an upcoming learning opportunity.
🕵️ Learning to identify our needs
Most of us grow up with little exposure or understanding of the idea of needs. And when we learn about needs, we’re introduced to a radical way of seeing ourselves and other people.
Seeing ourselves and others from a needs perspective requires us to stretch unto unfamiliar and sometimes challenging territory—because we’ve had little to no practice in this!
So if you have recently started learning NVC and struggled with identifying your needs, please know that this is a natural part of the learning process.
🔎 But what do I need here?
There are three entry points that can help you identify your needs in any given situation, and you can use any of them in combination with a key question to arrive at the need.
It doesn’t matter which of these you use as a point of entry; use the one you are most aware of or have access to in the moment.
❓ How do I know I’ve identified the ‘right’ need?
Identifying our needs isn’t just about ticking things off a checklist, or labeling them. Checking in with your body after you guess a need can give you the clue about whether it’s the need that’s activated in this context.
Very often, when I guess the right need, I experience a sense of relief, an exhale, or a relaxation in my body—an “aaahh!”. If I were to use a metaphor, it’s a bit like a ‘click’ of all the pieces of the puzzle falling into place.
What does it feel like for you when you identify your need?
🗒️ A practice exercise
Think about a medium-intensity situation from your life that brings up some irritation or annoyance.
Scan the needs list and notice pick one that stands out for you in relation to this context.
Acknowledge the need to yourself: “I need peace…” or “I need support.”
Notice how you feel on the inside after having named your need.
Any form of relaxation or expansiveness within your body indicates that you’ve got it. If not, scan the list and try this process with a new need.
♾️ Building our needs awareness
We build our awareness of our needs in two ways:
Live practice: In any given situation or conflict, we can identify the needs that are alive in us in any given moment.
Reflective practice: We can look back at situations or contexts and try and identify what needs are alive in us as we remember them. This often can be less stressful than trying to connect with our needs when we’re in a conflict, and are balancing connection, listening and speaking.
Here are some everyday suggestions for building needs awareness.
Reflect on the day’s happenings and notice 3 interactions or experiences that stood out for you. What needs of yours were met or not met in each situation?
Write down 3 things you are grateful for: What needs of yours were met by what happened/what someone else did or said?
As you read the newspaper/watch the news on TV, notice any judgements that come up for you. What needs are they pointing to.
Video: tip to get more familiar with your needs
🦒🦒 New online practice group starts July 12
In this edition of the practice group, we’ll be studying Marshall Rosenberg’s book “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” to immerse ourselves in the principles of NVC and practice our skills.
This practice group is open to all, and is offered on gift basis.
Want to join? Click here to sign up.
Thank you for reading this edition of Five Finds of the Fortnight. If you have a question for me, reply and I’ll answer it in an upcoming edition!
With warm regards,