With fifty-five parts scattered about, a screwdriver in hand, and a set of directions, I recently sought to put a piece of furniture together. Not fully understanding how part E connected to part K, I felt my chest tighten and grew a bit anxious.
Years ago, I would have grown more anxious and frustrated and put myself down. This time, I paid attention to my feelings. The feelings of anxiousness and frustration told me I needed something. What did I need? I needed support, clarity, and competence and accordingly texted a group of friends. A friend thankfully arrived minutes later, and the furniture took its intended form very quickly.
How often do you pay attention to your feelings? Are you aware of your own needs? Beneath every feeling lies a need, and the nature of the feeling tells us whether a need is met or unmet. When you feel loving, relaxed, confident, or thankful, what needs are being met? When you think about your frustration, fear, or discontent, what word(s) resonate mostly as the underlying unmet need(s)? Do you need safety, rest, freedom, self-expression, acceptance, support, balance, hope, clarity, competence, or something else?
Identifying our own needs allows us to engage in self-empathy. Self-empathy helps us show up more confidently and compassionately, and be more present in times of conflict.