Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker

How to Identify Needs

August 31, 2023 MaryAnn Walker Episode 57
Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker
How to Identify Needs
Show Notes Transcript

In recent  episodes, the focus has been on effective communication of needs in relationships to prevent resentment. However, it has become apparent that many struggle with identifying their own needs, hindering their ability to communicate them. Despite being attuned to others' needs, some find it challenging to recognize their own. This leads to a cycle of unspoken expectations, miscommunication, and frustration.

For instance, when overwhelmed, it's easy to convey distress through body language and reactions, yet pinpointing the exact need remains elusive. Family and friends may attempt to help, but without clear communication, their efforts can fall short, worsening the situation. Often, intense emotions trigger a reactive mindset, hindering self-awareness and identification of needs.

To counteract this, practicing self-awareness during emotional moments can reactivate rational thinking. Five tips are shared:

  1. Get in tune with your body: Notice physical sensations like tension, unease, or restlessness. These signals provide valuable insights into your needs. A nauseous feeling might stem from anxiety, suggesting chamomile tea might help; a headache could indicate a need for rest and quiet.
  2. Label your emotions: Differentiate between emotions like insecurity and jealousy, sadness and depression. Identifying and understanding various emotions contributes to emotional maturity. Emotions serve as information to uncover needs.
  3. Engage in self-reflection and journaling: Document emotions and their associated stories. Writing out raw thoughts allows for release and subsequent self-analysis. This "ugly first draft" reveals patterns and offers the chance to rewrite your narrative.
  4. Distinguish facts from stories: Examine situations to discern objective facts from subjective interpretations. This step reduces assumptions and helps clarify your needs.
  5. Imagine desired outcomes: Rewrite events to reflect how you wished they unfolded. This exercise highlights your needs and expectations, aiding in clear communication.

Recognizing that emotions are informative rather than disruptive, and using these techniques, can lead to enhanced emotional understanding and better communication of needs. Emotional intelligence fosters healthier connections and personal growth.

Click here to listen to Episode 18: What if The Path You're on Leads You to Where You Are Going?

Click here to listen to Episode 1: Facts vs Stories

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or email  at 

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Built-in Microphone-4:

Well, hello and welcome back. So the last few weeks we have essentially been talking about communicating needs in relationship as a way to minimize resentment. And it has come to my attention that many people listening are actually unclear about how to identify their own needs. And it's really hard to communicate your needs if you aren't aware of what they are. And it's kind of a strange thing, right? Because many of the people listening here, they're highly sensitive when it comes to knowing other people's wants and wishes and desires, but when it comes to knowing their own wants and wishes and articulating them to others, they're at a loss. So they go through life essentially hoping that other people will just know what it is that they need, but because nothing has actually been articulated, By either party, then like, neither party really knows what it is that's actually needed, and they're just taking shots in the dark. And so both partners are essentially just stumbling around in the dark, trying to figure things out, hoping that they're gonna figure things out, and that everything will ultimately be okay. But waiting to get to this point where everything is okay, it's kind of like the ever moving finish line, right? And that can create a lot of discouragement and disconnect rather than connection and understanding. So for example, let's say that I am feeling really overwhelmed and in my overwhelm, I'm walking around the house and my shoulders are tense and my jaw is tight and my lips are tight and my energy is low. And I'm really pretty highly reactive in this moment to everything happening around me, so I'm reactive if anybody's, you know, making noise or drop something, like, everything is kind of keeping me on edge, right? so my family though, they have no idea what it is that I need. They can see I'm overwhelmed, I know I'm overwhelmed, but nobody really knows what to do about it. So my family and my... Be walking on eggshells and just keeping their distance from me, or they might decide to try to step in to help. So this might look like deciding to fix dinner, or maybe doing some laundry, or maybe my husband decides to bring me a cup of tea and offer me some counsel on something, but because these aren't things that I feel like are needs for me. Then it kind of creates a bit of passive aggression or disrupt in relationship, right? So I might even kind of walk around and mumble and grumble about it and be like seriously pancakes Like is that the only thing you know how to make or like really you're doing laundry right now like at a time like this Or I might even tell my husband look I don't need your advice. Like, that's all you want to do is just fix everything. Stop it. Now, I would be upset with everybody and have a really hard time receiving what it is that they're offering me, but at the same time, notice I'm not actually telling them what it is that I need in that moment. And so, obviously, you know, something like this is going to create further anger and frustration. In their relationship and it's going to contribute to feelings of overwhelm for my family, right? So that's something they were trying to help me with. I came in to the house with my overwhelm and then because I wasn't clear About my needs it's now contributed to the overwhelm of everybody else in the household So it's kind of an interesting thing how it shares and expands like that, right? Now, when we're experiencing these really big emotions, it can really be a challenge to communicate needs. Because when we're feeling upset and we have our big emotions, essentially our, our prefrontal cortex has gone offline and our primitive mind is now kind of running the show in our primitive mind. Um, it can be pretty reactive emotionally. And so when this is happening, then nobody really knows what it is that we need in this time, right? Especially not us. Like, we don't even know what we need ourselves. So just noticing when this is happening, when you're highly reactive, when you're struggling to articulate needs, just beginning to recognize it will help your prefrontal cortex to come back online. So then you can get curious and you can turn inwards. To really help to bring some more things into your conscious awareness that you can decide what it is that you really need on purpose. Right? Really seek that out intentionally. And when you can do that, then it helps to not only reduce all of the mind drama that's happening within your own mind, or within your own body, but it also helps to reduce all of the drama in the home, and in your relationships. so just take a little moment to identify what it is that you really truly need and then communicate that need and do it proactively rather than emotionally reactively. So for example, in this instance when I'm feeling overwhelmed, maybe I need to make a request to have some time alone. Or maybe I just need to be held until my frustration softens. And this can be a hard thing for people to pick up on, right? Because I know when I'm feeling overwhelmed, I can look really prickly. And nobody wants to hug a cactus. But if I can just articulate that, hey, I know I'm really prickly right now, but if you could just hold me for a few minutes. It's just to let my nervous system calm down. That would really help a lot, but I have to be the one to bring that to the table because that's not going to be something that most people are going to pick up on, especially not from a cactus or maybe I might recognize that, okay, maybe I just need somebody to just listen to me vent and hold my hand. So I might need any number of things, but the thing is it isn't up to the other person to continue to take shots in the dark until my need is met. It is my responsibility to figure out what my need is and then make that clear and make that known to both parties. And this can really increase your emotional maturity and your emotional intelligence when you're proactive about those things and tuning inward to see what it is that you really truly need. So today I'm going to offer up five tips to help you to identify your own needs so that you can better communicate those needs to those around you. Alright, so number one, get into your body. Now, just kind of notice, like, are your shoulders tense, is your jaw clenched, uh, what's happening in your stomach? Are you nauseous? Are your arms shaky? Are your legs shaky? How is your breathing? How is your energy level? Are you feeling drained? Are you feeling hyperactive or maybe hyperreactive? Just notice what is coming up for you and use that as information to help you to identify your needs. So, for example, maybe you are feeling nauseous, and you notice that in your body, and get curious about the nausea, and then you might realize, oh, I think that this nausea is coming from anxiety. Then you might be able to gain the insight that maybe the need I have right now is that I would really benefit from having a cup of chamomile tea. Or maybe you notice that your tense shoulders might be telling you that you just need some space to breathe or some fresh air. Uh, notice that your headache might be telling you that you just need some quiet and some time to rest. But our body can give us a lot of information if we're willing to turn inward. and identify what it is. Oftentimes we, you know, we, we try to just shut up the cues of our body essentially through, uh, medications or through numbing. We want to pretend that those things are not happening in our body, but they really can bring us a lot of valuable information. So just notice those things as they come up and try to look at them from a place of nonjudgment, but instead compassionate curiosity. And it's interesting, too, to just notice how the energy can shift, even just by getting curious about it. So, for example, like right now, just take a moment to notice your breathing. Is it shallow? Are you breathing all the way to your belly? What's the rhythm like? Just kind of notice it. And then also notice, did your breathing change when I asked you about it? Because I'm guessing it did. And isn't that interesting, that just noticing your body and getting curious about it really can shift those energies. All right, number two, identify the emotion. Give it a name. The more emotions you can identify and notice how those, not just label the name of the emotion, but also identify how it feels in your body, getting really curious about those things is like an amazing way to increase your emotional intelligence. But it really starts with asking the question. So for example, asking your question, am I feeling insecure or am I feeling jealous? What's the difference between those two emotions, and how do each of those emotions fill in my body? You may be asking, am I sad, or am I depressed? And what is the difference between those two emotions, and how do they each fill in my body? And you can try this out with the positive emotions too, right? So you might ask, okay, am I happy, or am I elated? excited. What is the difference between these emotions and how do they feel in my body? And it's interesting when you start to ask the question about how they feel in your body, you may even notice that some emotions feel very similar, right? Like excitement and anxiety can feel very similar in the body, you might even notice, okay, so am I feeling relaxed right now or am I feeling apathetic? These two emotions are can feel very similar in the body, but the thoughts and motives behind each of these emotions can give us a lot of information when it comes to identifying where we're at and what our needs currently are. So just be really curious about these emotions, and again, non judgmental. Remember the emotions, they're just information. They are there to teach us and to help us to identify our needs. All right, number three. Self reflection and journaling. So as you are identifying your emotions, as you're identifying how these emotions feel in your body, it can be really helpful to write these things down. And don't only write down the emotions and the sensations in your body, but also notice any stories that you have coming up around these emotions or these sensations. Just notice what is coming up for you. So for myself, I have a separate journal that I use just for processing Big emotions. And this is not a journal that I plan to pass down to my children. Definitely not. This is the journal I do not want anybody to see and I plan to burn it when I'm done. And I've heard of this kind of journaling referred to as the ugly first draft kind of a journal. And I love the idea of calling it an ugly first draft because it's kind of a reminder when we call it an ugly first draft. It's a reminder to our brain that there is some cleaning up to do, first of all. And also a reminder that this is not the final draft. This is not the end. But really it takes like, just looking at, okay, but what is the story around it and how can I choose to adapt this story on purpose to make it something that is more supportive for me. But also, sometimes it really does take getting that ugly first draft out of the way before we can get to the final draft. We have to see very clearly where it is that we're currently at before we can articulate where we want to be and come up with a plan to get there. So think of it as getting directions on your journey. You need to know where you are at. And where you want to go before you can come up with your directions in order to get to your final destination or to your final draft. So if you'd like to learn more about how to identify where you are currently at and where it is that you want to go and how to get there, I encourage you to come and listen to episode 18, What If The Road You're On Leads You To Where You're Going. I will post a link in the show notes, but that can really help to bring a bit more clarity around that idea of getting your own map and your own directions. Uh, so again, like this space and this journal. It's the space to get super clear about where it is that you are at. To give the now fully activated primitive mind a voice so that we can see it and hear it a little bit more clearly and look at it objectively so that we can decide on purpose if we want to continue with that line of thinking or not. And yes, when you write it all out, you're probably going to be embarrassed. You're probably going to think, Oh man, I sound like a toddler throwing a tantrum. Or, oh man, I sound like a pouty teenager or a rebellious teenager. But remember that this is all just giving us information. It's neutral. Even though it might not feel like it in the moment. it's neutral. So go ahead and write it all out. Get all of the yuck out. Um, maybe it's even that you've been playing a story in your head and you really want to write this super nasty text to somebody. Write it out. Go ahead and write out the nasty text. Don't send it, but write it out as your ugly first draft and then let it rest for a minute so that when you can... back to it. You can decide if you want to send it on purpose and what your motives are and what the results might create. You can ask, have some time and space to ask the questions to decide if you really want to send that text or not. Or maybe you even want to write down the dialogue about how it actually played out and then also kind of like write over it with your narrator story, right? Because there's always the facts and then there's our story and just be clear about that. So for example, somebody might write the story and say, Oh yeah, so today I was leaving the store and the cashier said, Have a nice day, but I just knew that she was silently judging me for my crying toddler and my messing hair. And yeah, I mean, look at her with her perfect hair and her perfect nails. Like, what does she know? Like, what a passive aggressive witch. Like, just let the story out. Let it sit for a bit, and then when you're able to come back to it later, then you can read it again and see if you still want to choose into that story. But it can also be helpful to just look at the story and look for the plot holes, and that's going to lead to number four. Look for plot holes in your story. Separate out the facts from the story. And so using that example I just gave about the customer and the cashier, like, it can be really easy in that example to see what the facts are and what the story is, right? So using the example I just gave of the cashier and the customer, like, just kind of notice that it is kind of easy in that example to see, to separate out the facts in the story, right? So the fact is just... That the cashier said to have a nice day, and that's something that cashiers say all day, every day, day in and day out. That's just what they say, but regardless of what the cashier said or how they said it, what the cashier has to say is a hundred percent neutral. It doesn't mean anything. Until we write a story about it, right? So you can write a story about it that, oh, that's what cashiers say. Or you can choose to write the story about what a passive aggressive witch. And we get to choose what story we're going to write. And I do talk a bit more about the stories we tell ourselves in Episode 1. And so I know many of you are new here. And while each of these episodes really do stand alone, it can be kind of fun to start at the beginning, because some of the episodes do build on each other, and plus it's kind of fun to just kind of be along for the ride, um, as you come along the ride for my own personal journey. So, if you'd like to go back and listen to that one, that's on the first episode. Okay, so now back to the story about the cashier and the customer. So, the fact in that story was that the cashier said to have a nice day. That's the fact that's totally neutral. But the story that was written around it by the customer... Was that this cashier is passive aggressive, um, they're judging me for my messy hair and my crying child. You know, they've got a lot of story there. The customer, they're making up a really mean story about this cashier. And as is often the case, you know, the customer is now the one guilty of the very thing she's accusing the cashier for, which is the judging. So, really get super clear on what happened and... Also, look at what your story is around it, and then decide if you want to choose that story on purpose. Because, again, you can pick your story. You can pick the story that that cashier must be really, uh, passive aggressive, and she just doesn't understand, and she's judging me. Or you can just be like, yeah, that's what cashiers say. You get to pick the story, and you get to pick it on purpose. All right, number five, identify how you wish things had gone. This can be so helpful. And yes, this is essentially identifying your needs in hindsight, but it can give you so much information. Just think about, okay, well, I'm recognizing that I, I have a lot of feelings around this, so I must have a belief that this should have gone differently than it did. So how do I think it should have gone? And then see what information you get. So, now that you know what the facts are and what your story is, really think about how you wish it would have gone. And maybe even write it out as a new story. And then pretend that, okay, this is what happened. And then you can notice, okay, how does that story feel for me and what does that look like? And you can take a closer look then about what your needs and your expectations are around yourself and others. So we're just going to keep playing with this example because it works. So continuing on with this example, we already know the customer's original story, right? The original story is, what a passive aggressive witch, right? That's the story. So maybe when she gets home, she realizes, okay, you know what? That story doesn't feel super supportive for me. I'm going to rewrite my story. And then she might write a story instead like, Okay, well how do I wish it happened? Okay, um, here's how it went. I went to the store with my toddler, and my toddler was so well behaved, and I looked so cute that day, and everything went flawlessly, and it was great. And then she might look at that and be like, That's an interesting story. Like, that sounds really, like, unrealistic. So, looking at that story, it kind of appears that what I'm seeking is perfection. But yeah, but that's not really realistic. So, okay, I'm going to try again. I need a more realistic story, because that one feels too out of reach. So then she might write a new story about, Alright, I went shopping, and yes, I was stressed, and my kid was still throwing a tantrum, all this again because I can't control my kid. All right, so I'll just assume those things are the same, but maybe this time when I went through the line, maybe the cashier said, hey mama, you're doing a really good job. You know what? That story feels a little bit better and also tells me that maybe I have a need to be seen. That's interesting. I must have a need to be seen. And then she might think, but you know what, but that doesn't feel quite right. Because I don't think that I really need to be seen by this cashier that I don't even know. I think what I really want is to feel seen by my husband. I think what I really wish had happened was that he had taken the kids shopping, because you know what? I was up all night long because the baby was crying because they're teething, and so I didn't get any sleep, and I was letting my husband sleep, and I think that I'm needing some rest. And I think I'm also needing to feel appreciated by my husband for sacrificing my sleep so he could sleep. Now that's interesting. Yeah. Okay, that's something I can work with. So now I recognize I have those two needs. The need for rest and the need to feel seen by my husband and appreciated. Okay, and then at that point, she has something tangible to work with so that she can take that to her husband and make those explicit requests. Because now she's super clear. And once she's already done this inner work, you can see it really shifts the energy where now it's more calm and really thinking on what is my need and how can I have it met rather than being angry with everybody else and thinking everybody else is being passive aggressive when we're actually the ones being passive aggressive, right? So just notice that the writing can bring about a lot of clarity. Because really, you can see. That this story, like, it really had nothing to do with the cashier at all, right? It had more to do with her being sleep deprived. I'm feeling unappreciated. So keep writing until you're able to identify what the real issue is, and it will give you so much information around what your needs are. And it might take you two or three drafts, it might take you five or ten, it might take even more. But keep writing until you can find a story that feels more true to you, and then see if you can identify what your needs are. So we all have needs. We all get grumpy and irritable at times and again, those emotions are just there to teach us and it's part of the human experience, right? We're all gonna have those grumpy emotions But just remember that emotions are information and if you're willing to ask those emotions what they're there to teach you They can be some of our greatest and most powerful teachers

Built-in Microphone-5:

So this week, let's really work towards identifying what our needs are by getting into our body and recognizing the sensations there, identifying and labeling the emotion, writing down your story and separating out the facts from our story, and then also recognizing and learning from the times when you wish that things had gone a little bit different.

Built-in Microphone-4:

The more you're able to become more aware of what's happening inside of your head, the more you can become aware of what your needs are, and that will create more peace within self, within your home, within all of your relationships. So give it a go and I get it that sometimes it can really help to have somebody outside of your head To reflect back to you what is happening inside of your head Sometimes we truly can't see the forest from the trees and I know for me I still have my friends I go to when I'm like, okay Look, I just need help seeing this a bit more clearly because I'm super Emotionally activated right now and I'm having a hard time seeing myself clearly Can you please just listen and help me to make sense of this So if you would like support, I would love to work with you. That's what I do day in and day out, is basically just reflect back to people what's happening between their ears to help to give them a bit more clarity, and I would love to work with you. I do have a little bit more availability now that we are on the other side of our move. So I have a few more slots that are open for the month of September. So if you would like to work with me, please come and message me right away so I can get you in, because as I said, space is limited. But yeah, right now I'm offering six week packages, and I think that you'll be blown away. by how much we can accomplish together in just six weeks. So you can message me. You can either find me on any of my social media outlets. So I am everywhere. I'm on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. Uh, you could also email me at maryann at maryannwalker. life or come to my website maryannwalker. life. Uh, but reach out and let's get in touch. I would just love to love and support you. And let me know too, if you have any. Questions or if, as you're listening to these podcasts, if you think, Oh, but I really wish she'd talk about this or, Oh, but I'm really struggling with this. Shoot me a message and let me know. I get a lot of my content from viewers that offer up their ideas and what things that they would like support with. So yeah, reach out. I love talking with my audience, so let me know what's coming up for you. Well here's to turning inward and identifying needs. I hope you have a great week and let's talk soon. All right, bye now.