This week I threw a mug across a room in anger, thankfully this is a rare occurrence!
The mug was a particular mug that my husband liked to drink his herbal tea out of (his newly developed habit which I am an avid supporter of). Herbal tea leaves a nasty stain which needs a bit of scrubbing to get it clean.
The mug had been left by the sink waiting for ‘someone’ to wash it!
Under normal circumstances this would have been fine. We know our roles in the house and in our lives and we are happy with them, but on this day this wasn’t fine at all and it was followed by a torrent of accusations of all the other ways in which I felt that he was not quite pulling his weight, which is ridiculous because he absolutely does pull his weight and takes care of his family beautifully.
But, my batteries were drained, my need for being cared for and acknowledged for what I do was shouting loud and clear and the execution was ugly, as it generally is when a need is not met in a healthy way on a consistent basis. My ego had spun out of control and my childish instincts had kicked in. As is often the case with needs, this wasn’t a reaction to what was happening on that day, this was a reaction that had built up over a few weeks and was the result of not taking care of my needs over a period of weeks.
We all have needs, basic human needs that we must satisfy in order to get on with life. Needs are different from values; values are things/activities/situations/feelings that we are drawn towards whereas needs are drivers, they are conditions, things and feelings that we absolutely must satisfy. An individual may have values around creativity, hedonism, competition and danger – these are what they are naturally drawn to in life. This same individual might have the need to be independent, to be admired, to be open and to achieve.
Knowing your needs is incredibly helpful. It’s helpful to understand your own personal blue print and gain perspective on how other’s blue prints might be different. From this place of understanding your relationship with yourself can be improved, not to mention your relationships with other people.
Anthony Robins has suggested that there are six basic human needs and that all behaviour is simply an attempt to meet those needs.
- Certainty: assurance that you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
- Variety/Uncertainty: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli
- Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed
- Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness with someone or something
- Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding
- Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving and supporting
Put these needs in order for you. Take care to ensure that you give priority to those that you ‘really’ need in order to function without becoming an ugly version of yourself!
I’ve just done this exercise again and noticed that I put ‘certainty’ as number 6 which might account for the fact that I’m pretty ok about the fact that we still don’t know where we will be living in a few months time! The fact that ‘significance’ is number 1 is why the mug was thrown across the room!
If you want to do the exercise in even more detail and get down to the precise word that resonates for you then take a look at the table on the next page which lists the most common needs. Begin by putting a tick next to each word that evokes a reaction. Remember there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ needs, just ‘met’ and ‘unmet’ ones so don’t be afraid to admit them.
Hopefully you will notice that the words you have picked from the long list are words that relate to the top two or three needs you prioritised from the Anthony Robins list.
Lastly, sit, relax and take a moment to reflect on the being you are when these needs are being met and the being you are when they are not. What impact does it have? What is it costing you? Ask yourself ‘why’ am I not getting this need met and ‘what’ am I prepared to do about it?
To complete this week, an apt quote……
“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.” (Gary Chapman: The Five Love Languages: How to express Heartfelt Commitment to your Mate)