What is it that you need, now?


  • ‘Every message, regardless of form or content, is an expression of a need […] When we understand the needs that motivate our own and others’ behavior, we have no enemies’

    Marshall Rosenberg

So, what do you need? Many of us find this question hard to answer. Some of us can be startled, even offended by it. The first problem with this question is that more often than not it is asked in exasperation by someone maybe trying hard to understand us, in the middle of an argument, and it is of no use to anybody at that point.


The second problem with this question is simply that most of us are not even conscious of what we need, most of the time! It seems absurd, doesn’t it? But you might realise it’s true, if you stop to think about it. Being asked what we need can make us feel quite vulnerable: there is something delicate that we might be fearful of touching. It can even be embarrassing to admit to ourselves (and of course, to others) our real needs, for fear of sounding, well, ‘needy’.


We all know what we want, what we feel entitled to, what others or life should give us, what we are convinced will please us in the meantime, in this infinite quest for satisfaction we all seem to be on. But how many of us actually take the time to stop and find out what we are needing, deep down, in our hearts? Just by simply asking ourselves ‘What do I need?’ and ‘What do I want?’, we can sense the subtle but significantly different energy that each question brings. Which question makes you feel more grounded within yourself? Which is implicitly linked to something external? Which question brings about more fear? Which is more empowering to you? Listen carefully…


When I wrote about conscious speaking and listening in my previous posts, I touched upon ways in which we can be more mindful of our needs, as we are communicating with others. And on how ‘orbiting’ around our own longing is a way of owning up to our lives, a way of accessing our own power. Since training as a coach I have also been able to confirm how valuable it is for all of us to become aware of our needs. Clients are not always looking to directly discuss their needs, of course, but I have found that, whenever there is a dilemma, a ‘gap’ in thinking, a sadness or anger that comes masked as a straightforward blame game…there probably is a deep need waiting to be acknowledged. A need is a doorway. And through that door there is relief. Other people’s thoughts and feelings (and our own) are so much less intimidating when we listen to what lies beneath, to what is needed at that moment.


Contrary to popular belief, there is power in (being conscious of) needing! It is consciousness of our aliveness, the space of friction and juiciness, of hope. Realising what lies at the core of our being has the power to shift our mental states from hopelessness, dependency and victimhood to autonomy. We practice hearing ourselves, and gradually we realise we have choice. We can then ignite our intrinsic motivation to start taking active steps to satisfy our needs.


We all share the same deep needs, no matter what our circumstances or capacities are. Compassion arises spontaneously when we realise the universality of our true life experience. And ultimately what we long for, we already are, but that is for another day…


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