How many of us can honestly say that we can identify our needs right now, in this very moment?
An even better question to get your brain going is how often do you check in with yourself to identify your emotional needs:
- Once a day?
- Once a month?
- Once a year?
I’m going to #truthbomb you right now, it can be so difficult to identify what you need emotionally if you’ve been cut off from your needs for a long time.
It’s been a few years now that I’ve been working with my healing business and one thing I have come to discover is that many adults grew up without being modelled for. Even taught or given what they needed to feel safe, secure and loved. If this is you here’s a reminder, it’s ok because you can heal from this.
When you have unfulfilled emotional needs in your early life, quite often those unfulfilled needs follow you into your adult life. You might carry feelings of frustration and hurt but aren’t able to identify the source of those feelings. Maybe you have the sense that something is missing in your life but can’t put a finger on what the underlying issue or need might be and therefore what to do about it.
Again a reminder, that’s ok my friend, your healing journey will find you when the time is right!
A common theme when you don’t know what you need is that you can lose a sense of control over your life. Also true is that when you don’t know what you need, you can’t expect other people to know what you need.
What can I do?
The first step is learning to identify what your OWN needs are (especially your emotional needs). Starting to identify and uncover them is a process and will take time to unravel.
We all have core emotional needs. Some of these we all share, others might be more unique to you.
If you have difficulty identifying your needs now, likely, certain needs were not met adequately as you were growing up as I spoke about earlier. Your parents may have been well-intentioned in their parenting, or in extreme cases, they may have been abusive or neglectful.
According to Schema Therapy, all the psychological problems we encounter as adults have their roots in childhood and adolescent experiences. Specifically, there are 5 core childhood emotional needs we all share, and these are:
- To feel safe – stability, nurturance, safety, acceptance, a secure attachment to others
- To have autonomy, feel competent and have a sense of identity
- The freedom to express our needs and emotions
- To act spontaneously and play
- To have realistic limits, helping us to apply self-control.
When these 5 core childhood needs are not met, then unhelpful core beliefs about yourself can form. These unhelpful core beliefs are also known as schemas.
What are unhelpful core beliefs?
You may have different and long-standing beliefs and patterns of relating to others. These patterns play out in relationships and life in general.
Many people have not examined what their core emotional needs are, because they have developed extreme self-sufficiency.
Your mindset could be self-sabotaging where your thoughts always head towards:
I am worthless
I don’t belong here
My work is not good enough
And this list can go on
It’s also possible that you might feel like you’re being needy when you’ve connected with your emotional needs, or perhaps you feel you don’t deserve to have your needs met.
Maybe you recognize that in yourself?
How can I start to identify my needs?
This month I created a meditation to help you to begin to excavate those needs through gentle inquiry Identifying your needs
If there are deeper, longstanding issues that you’ve identified, it is wise to seek professional help in the form of counselling to help you to work through some of your unmet childhood emotional needs.
During the meditation, you might uncover some deep needs that have been with you since childhood. It’s okay to mourn the fact that these needs haven’t been met for a very long time and at the same time be proud of yourself that you’ve shone a light on them again.
At the end of the meditation, you can explore your current feelings more deeply by journaling. If you’ve found it very difficult to identify your needs, try making a habit of checking in with yourself several times in the day. You can ask yourself, “what do I need, right now?”
Check out my Instagram post here for a journal prompt to get you started Journal Prompts
Another great way to use journaling to get started with identifying your needs is after the meditation write down the five core needs and make a list of what your younger self is most likely to need based on them.
Keep this list of your needs nearby and try to regularly check throughout the day especially if you are feeling anxiety, tiredness or any other distressing emotions.
You CAN do it!
By starting to take a couple of steps (I know easy said than done) you can deepen your self-awareness so that you can become more attuned to your needs, nurture that childlike part of you that needs them fulfilled, and with continued practice, be able to automatically check in with “little you” and uncover what you need at that moment.