On learning to voice your needs

I just googled not being able to voice your needs and there were about 1,220,000,000 results.

Being able to voice your needs is an important part of life. If you can’t say what you need, you probably won’t get it.

If you’ve ever been that person you might have been lucky enough to find someone that gets you. Not in any romantic sense but just someone that understands you even when you’re not able to find the words. That kind of person comes into your life through you being open and vulnerable enough to voice your needs.

It could be as simple as letting someone know that you need space, at first the person might be surprised or not take it well. But over time a good friend or someone that cares about you will understand that at certain times you need to be alone. And it won’t become an issue, they won’t try and make you feel bad or tell you that you have to have to talk now. They will listen and respect your needs.

On the flipside, people that aren’t able to voice their needs might end up falling into feeling misunderstood or uncared for and then carrying that feeling around them everywhere they go. But more often than not, that feeling isn’t true at all. It only feels true because you’re not saying what you need.

How do you feel?

How often do you honestly say how you feel when you don’t feel particularly good?

It’s fairly easy to talk about how happy you are, how much you’re looking forward to something or how great you feel. But when it comes to saying I feel low, I feel sad or I’m not feeling my best, most of us are much less willing to be open.

Instead you’ll find yourself saying things like ‘I’m fine’ even though you don’t mean it at all. Feeling sad or feeling low isn’t a bad thing, it isn’t something that you have to hide.

And sometimes all you need to feel better is to simply talk about why you don’t feel so great.

Easy conversations

It can be difficult to have conversations about things that feel uncomfortable. You might find it so difficult that you avoid it altogether and shut down whenever anyone tries to bring it up with you.

That might seem like the best option because why would anyone choose to feel uncomfortable.

However, when you avoid something it doesn’t go away and you don’t allow yourself room to grow.

So instead of avoiding a difficult conversation or holding back when you speak, try something different.

Be open, honest and know that the initial uncomfortable feeling will subside.

It’ll take a bit of practice but eventually you’ll get to a place where the difficult conversation is actually pretty easy.

Saying what you mean

There’s no need to skirt around the issue.

Being clear with your words might seem like a simple thing to do. Yet if you reflect on conversations you’ve had and the things you’ve said recently you might find times when you haven’t been so clear.

It might have been because you weren’t really thinking in the moment but upon reflection you can see that you should have chose your words more carefully.

However, it could also be that the words you chose in the moment weren’t totally honest. Maybe you were scared to say how you really feel.

Either way what ends up happening is you’re not happy with the response you get from the person you were talking to. It’s not because you didn’t agree with them but instead because their response wasn’t addressing what you really had to say.

Next time try being a little clearer and say what you really mean.

Waiting for a cue

Sometimes when there’s something you want to say the easiest way to bring it up is to wait for a ‘cue’.

My dictionary defines a cue as ‘An action or event that is a signal for somebody to do something’.

In this case the thing to do is bring up a topic that is difficult to speak about or difficult to for people to listen.

However, the problem with waiting for a cue is that sometimes other people will not consider your approach genuine. But furthermore, it stirs up the question of why you’re unable to bring the topic up on your own.

Why do you have to wait for a cue?

Perhaps because you’re not ready to admit how much the topic matters or maybe you just don’t dont have the confidence yet.

It might not be easy the first time but get used to talking about what matters, you don’t need to wait for a cue.

The difficult truth

Sometimes the hardest part is facing it.

Once you accept it, you can make a plan for what do next. That for many is exciting.

However, facing the difficult truth is the necessary first step. You do it by acknowledging and understanding the situation. In some cases it will involve admitting the role that you played contributed to a negative outcome.

That’s a helpful lesson because it allows you to understand the implications of your actions.

It might be a bitter pill to swallow but we all make mistakes. Luckily, we also have the capacity to fix them and make things better.

Creating a safe space

When it comes to opening up, do you know what you need in order to feel safe?

A starting point is to ask yourself ‘Will what I am about to say be handled with care?’

I’ve learnt that people often hold their challenges dear. Even if it’s not deeply affecting them now they still require a level of care when it’s being discussed.

For example, you probably want more than just ‘oh wow, glad you’re okay’ when opening up about a past period of depression.

Another question to ask is ‘What do I want from this situation?’

Many times when we open up to people, we want something particular from them in return. But often we don’t realise until it’s too late.

A common example is discussing an issue you’re having and getting annoyed when the other person tries to offer advice or tell you what to do. Turns out you just wanted someone to listen.

And so overall, creating a safe space is a combination of knowing what makes you feel safe, voicing what you need and (as always) picking the right people.

In spite of everything

Looking back on the past couple of months, what have been your highlights?

What has brought you joy?

How have you been spending your time?

For some there’s a chance that they have been blossoming into a more truer version of themselves. Becoming someone who is considerate about how they spend their time.

It’s not that you didn’t give it much thought before, it’s that it’s suddenly become much easier to be choosy.

You’re no longer making the best of small fragments of free time, you’re making the best of your time overall.

As a result (in spite of everything going on in the world), you might feel the happiest you’ve felt in a while.

Struggling to write

After a week or so of struggling to write I got my flow back, the words began to pour.

I began to think about how difficult it had been to post everyday that previous week, until I caught myself and realised why I hadn’t been able to write as easily.

I’d stopped writing.

In that week or so of struggling to write I’d gotten caught up in being busy and I chose to do other things with my time instead of write. And so I suppose I created this story in my head about struggling to write because it was easier than admitting the truth.

Plus, at times it’s almost cool to have ‘writers block’ just so you can shout about when it’s over.

 

Talking helps

On how sometimes the seemingly simple across of speaking up can transform your whole life.

Talking helps when you allow yourself to be open, honest and vulnerable with the right people.

This could be family, friends, your manager at work, your gp or perhaps a therapist.

We so often get caught in our own stuff that we build it up to be so much more than it really is but when you talk about it, often that other person can help you start to see things differently.

When you don’t say things and you keep everything inside it becomes much bigger, scarier and potentially life threatening.

I think the hardest part is taking the first step in saying this is happening in my life and I’m going to talk about it.