Learning to Name Our Needs

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Learning to name and express our needs is one area that most people do not understand or acknowledge as part of what it means to be a healthy adult.

We are human and therefore, we are needy beings.

When we learn to name our needs and express our needs, we can find help for those needs. And when we can all agree that we have and should have needs, it becomes easier for us to accept that other people have needs as well.

In fact, it is good for us to clearly state our needs to other people and have honest conversations about the realistic needs of both parties. We have needs and other people have needs — plain and simple. And as Lysa TerKeurst states so eloquently, “Boundaries help us walk in the middle.” 

In truth, when we can name and express our needs, we can look for ways to meet our own needs. We understand that we are responsible FOR our own lives. This becomes important in our efforts to “meet in the middle” — to not demand that someone else must be responsible to meet our needs.

When we learn to meet our own needs, we can:

  • Learn to regulate these needs
  • Invest in these needs by taking a moment
  • Ask someone else for help with these needs
  • Cancel an appointment so we can get our needs met
  • Or give these needs to God and ask him to take care of it

Learning to name, acknowledge, regulate, and meet our needs is important work. Below is a list of needs that we often bring into relationship with others:

  • To be validated
  • To be in control
  • To be liked
  • To be seen as perfect
  • To be good
  • To be in good standing
  • To be appreciated
  • To be valued
  • To be chosen
  • To be beautiful
  • To be understood
  • To be at peace
  • To be right
  • To be in charge
  • To be loved
  • To be protected
  • To be unique
  • To be respected
  • To be nice
  • To be supported
  • To be admired
  • To be the expert
  • To be the model Christian
  • To be the hero
  • To be the center of attention
  • To be needed
  • To be accepted
  • To be the responsible one

I encourage you to identify some needs from the above list and spend some time in personal reflection. It might help to print out this page and circle them — putting pen to paper. I realize, thinking through this is hard, but this is a way you can learn to ask some healthy questions to help you meet people in the middle.

It can be easy to lose our self-worth when our needs are out of balance. We can start to believe that “I must be” and instead think “I want to be.” And we can learn to question why. “I want to be” is driven by desire, while “I must be” is driven by a demand. When our wants shift to demands we can get caught in a serious form of people pleasing.

Here are some additional questions to ponder:

  • Am I wanting to feel acceptable so people will count on me?
  • Do I want to be in control so that people see me as significant and respect my opinions?
  • Do I want to feel valuable so that I can be seen as having something impressive to give and do?
  • Do I want to feel loved so I stay available to meet everyone else’s needs?

I encourage you to spend today thinking about WHAT you need, WHY you need it and HOW you can go about resolving this need. The above information comes from the book Good Boundaries and Goodbyes by Lysa TerKeurst in the chapter entitled: “Why I am so afraid”.

Grab a copy, give us a call, or schedule an appointment today. We are here to help you process your needs and learn how to keep them from overtaking your people decisions.

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