One summer I worked as a coach at a children’s sports camp. It was a hilarious, hot, and wonderful experience. Amid games of soccer and capture the flag, kids aged 3-8 were bound to get bumps and bruises. It was a daily occurrence for a little one to come to me in tears. I would kneel to their level and ask her or him what they needed, sometimes giving options such as ice or a drink, to sit with me or be alone, and other times letting him or her simply tell me. When asked, they always knew what they needed and were more than willing to share.
It’s a beautiful thing to know what you need.
Yet somewhere along the road of growing up a great deal of us lose this ability. Perhaps it is due to unmet needs as a child or the negative messages received when making requests. It could be the disagreement that occurs when one pleads and the other instead gives what they want, not what is asked for, that leads to confusion of needs. Or maybe it’s the denial of any needs to begin with, passively teaching a person that they are always fine. The result is adolescents to elderly who have no real knowledge of their experienced needs, yet often feel slighted, overlooked and not enough.
Regaining the ability to identify what you need, be it physically, emotionally, spiritually, or otherwise, and to take action on that, is essential to your well-being. By checking in with yourself and getting curious as to if you need to move or need to be still, need company or need solitude, need advice or need empathy, need to change or need to accept, is a difficult yet necessary step in feeling more cared for and more in control of your life.
To be fair, having needs can be messy. It can be difficult and risky. Inviting others to help and taking time, space or care for yourself isn’t promised to be received well. And yet attempting to live without needs denies your human spirit and can easily make you all the more hurt, alone, and afraid.
By learning, acknowledging, and responding to the needs that arise within, you communicate validation and care towards yourself.
Learning to meet your needs, be it through your own means or the help of others, in turn helps you to reclaim your worth and feel as though you matter. This is indispensable to yourself and your relationships, and it allows you to return to the things of life—just like the kids above could quickly receive and return to the game at hand.
Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.
To learn more about your needs, contact Lindsay today.