Identifying personal needs

I used to subscribe to the philosophy that awareness and communication of my personal needs in a relationship was self-centered and that, if it’s important enough, my partner would intuitively know what I need. Looking back, I realize how unhealthy holding such a view really is. It’s an unfair expectation to place upon anyone to intuitively know your needs, especially if, like me, you aren’t aware of them yourself. A word of clarification before I continue: This post is about basic needs, not selfish desires or demands. We are all wired differently and have basic needs that a relationship can fulfill, such as affirmation, physical touch, spiritual connection, and fun. When you cross the line of taking advantage of another person for personal fulfillment, your relationship has become unhealthy and needs to be recalibrated to find balance so that both individuals’ needs are met.

So I stumbled on something I jotted down a few years ago about what I perceive my needs to be within relationships. It’s a very challenging exercise for me because I tend to toss my needs to the side for the sake of others. But I have come to understand the importance of knowing and communicating my needs because it is healthy for me and for those close relationships I choose to have. If I become a doormat for the sake of others, what good am I to them? If I neglect my core needs and desires, then haven’t I lost my identity? Somewhere along my journey, I adopted that life philosophy which said it is prideful to desire and accept praise from others. This prison I locked myself inside kept me from experiencing a full life and I’m confident negatively affected my personal relationships.

In this scribbled note I found, I had taken a crack at writing down my needs. I used the word “RESPECT” as an acrostic to reflect the things I perceive as my needs, either something my partner satisfies or that I feel the freedom to express or be within the relationship. As I’ve reflected on it, it seems incomplete but definitely headed in the right direction.

Recognition – acknowledgement of achievement, service, merit, etc.

Enlightenment – to receive and give intellectual or spiritual light

Spontaneity – living life with a bit of natural impulse and adventure

Positivity – being upbeat, optimistic, and hopeful about life

Encouragement – inspire with courage, spirit or confidence

Creativity – freedom to express and experience originality, expressive, imaginative

Trust – reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc. of a person

I share this as a help for you to identify your own needs. It’s a very challenging, yet rewarding, process. And I find that it evolves too depending on the season of life you are walking in, as well as the people that are around you. And once you’ve started figuring out your needs, you should learn to express them in a humble and genuine way. The people that truly care about you will understand and begin to relate to you in a way that allows you to live free and full. And, in turn, hopefully allow you to return the favor.

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