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Inherently Needy

“Judgments, criticism, diagnoses and interpretations of others are all alienated expressions of our needs”.
Marshall Rosenberg

Pause a minute to take this in.
Consider someone you have recently been judgmental or critical towards.
Bring the incident to mind. Notice how it felt inside you. What led up to your feeling this way?

I realized how detrimental my attitude towards my own needs was when I’d sometimes hear myself talk to one I loved dearly.  I cringe as I remember how over the course of our relationship I grew increasingly judgmental, critical and dissatisfied. I was ashamed of my own needs and even more so when I’d hear that I was ‘too’ needy!

Many of us in trying to learn to be independent adults and have healthy relationships have learned to be embarrassed by our neediness:  we try to deny, dismiss or disguise our needs. That does nothing to satisfy or transform them.  Notice how easy it is to acknowledge some of your needs and not as easy to admit to others.

Truth is,  we are inherently needy creatures: from the moment we are conceived… and every day of our lives. We are by our very nature interdependent.  No one escapes this aspect of our humanity. Our lives would be much smoother if we started by just accepting this fact!

Without accepting this we cannot begin to meet our needs. Paying attention to our needs is often about listening to and validating their existence.  Perhaps something in us wants to feel in control, something that feels just overwhelmed, envious or jealous. Allowing what is already there to be there exactly the way it is is the beginning of its transformation. “Whenever something in us feels loved it awakens to its own healing” writes Kevin McEvenue in Whole Body Focusing.

Pause here a moment!
Bring to mind a time you were critical or judgmental.
Allow yourself to ease into that memory a little, holding it at a distance that allows you to look at it without being sucked into it. Just be curious.  Was there something that you sense you needed?

Perhaps it was a part of you that needed to be acknowledged: It hurt, was scared or tired. Perhaps it was a need to be right, or in control of your situation. Maybe it was about being known and accepted…  by yourself or maybe someone else. Maybe it was one part of you needing to fit in with others while another part of you needed to hold your own, both real and requiring your acknowledgement in order to help guide you.

It sometimes takes a conscious pausing and introspection to become clear about our real needs. Being open and ready to explore non-judgmentally makes this process shorter and sweeter. Perhaps what may first sound like “I need a walk” may after some reflection appear to be more like a need time to be alone. The walk is perhaps your answer to how that need can be met. If we express our needs unclearly, we may soon have to deal with someone pressing to go for that walk with us and then have the task of saying “No” while perhaps trying not to hurting their feelings.  Perhaps it is exercise that you need and not being alone. That would change how you might communicate your need.

Begin to pay attention to your discomforts, the feeling of lacking something, a frustration, restlessness or an envious feeling. Pause and sense the underlying need trying to pop its head out to be noticed.

Try it!
Let me know what you discover.

Becoming aware of your needs is just the beginning. Communicating your needs to others when necessary is the next step.

Click here for Marshall Rosenberg’s simple and very effective system to make gentle and effective requests of others.

More about the difference between needs and wants in another post!

When Anger Knocked… I Opened the Door

“I had a moment”, a Focusing student recently told me “when I was feeling so angry. I changed it to ‘a part of me is feeling so angry’ and just like that it was gone.” She ended with “Wow!”

This speaks to the power of acknowledging our feelings exactly the way they are, not denying them or giving in to them, just putting them in perspective.  Our emotions don’t always disappear that quickly. When we realize they are part of our larger experience and give them due attention, they can be our guides.Open the Door

Their wisdom may come to us in the form of words, feelings, or images. The skill in deciphering their message lies in staying away from what we think the emotion is all about.  Perhaps it’s something in us that is tired and needs us to slow down. Perhaps it’s about some part of us that gets us into trouble and needs our attention. Maybe it’s a need that longs to be fulfilled or a word of caution about something.

Then just as we would listen to a child, we try to rest our attention where it needs to be and allow what emerges to come through. Having told of its fear or pain or longing the emotion may leave, sometimes for good.  Try it the next time something comes between you and being fully okay.

Pause!

Try to sense what’s really going on.
(It seems to help to bring your attention to the middle part of your body. But perhaps you already have a bodily sense somewhere: a tension, a tug a pain).

When you have even a vague sense of what it feels like say inwardly:
“Something in me feels….” (It may be a feeling word or an image word that only makes sense to you, like tight or yuck or blah or gooey!)

Then stay with that experience for a little while. Perhaps it will go away. Perhaps it will get a little stronger before it goes away. It could even yield an insight or a concrete action you need to take in your life.

Welcome your guests as Rumi suggests in his poem “The Guest House”!

“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!”

And feel free to write me about your experience or questions.

On Valentine’s Day

I muse:

Along with the delightful colors, sounds and bargains of the day, there sometimes comes the grief of a lost love, the longing for a partner or the sadness of being in an empty relationship. Perhaps we’ve been through all of these experiences in our lifetime.

But aside from our romantic love relationships, there’s us, ourselves.

How often do we pause to allow tender feelings towards ourselves, really love and cherish who we are:

ALL of who we are,

the whole package: caring, selfish, adorable, annoying, poetic or practical.

There’s no one who CAN know or care more for ourselves than we can.

And we have a lifetime in this relationship!

Can we find it in our hearts to sing to ourselves in the words of The Seekers:

“It’s a long long journey, so stay by my side…

For I know I’ll never find another you”.

Here’s the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ga9Bs4fzSY

Feel free to respond with your questions, comments or stories!

Pausing to Take It In

I’ve dreamed of starting my own practice doing what I love; working to see people stand strong in their uniqueness, wanting to embrace everything about themselves: their looks and styles, abilities and disabilities; people secure enough to make it safe for others to be themselves. I want to guide people to their own wisdom and inner resources.

I allowed the apparent stuckness in my career to lead me to a workshop on Starting Your Own Business. Weeks later I was applying to register my business, Life Rhythms. That was exactly a year ago!

I pause to reminisce. Memories of holding fast to a vision, meeting a variety of challenges: the decisions, the waiting, and the changes. Each memory brings a new, sometimes subtle set of sensations: a gurgle, a spaciousness, a tightness. I stay a while with each before I allow another memory to slip in. I drink deeply of this time of remembering. In stopping to be with an unpleasant taste I am surprised. It’s not so bitter after all! And the good one tastes more delicious.

How often do we PAUSE to really take in an experience in all its richness?

Try it! For just 30 seconds.

PAUSE.

Allow the fullness of this moment to receive your full attention.

Notice your thoughts, notice if there are any feelings lurking around.

Make room for the sensations in your body…

RELISH the experience… for it will pass, pleasant or unpleasant IT WILL PASS.

Try it!
– when someone thanks you for something. Pause, breathe, take it in.
– when you feel the cold wind whip around your ears, sense what that’s like.
– when you’re sad or mad or worried: just really observe the experience in your body, allow yourself to pause enough to feel it and describe it.

Notice what happens! Perhaps you’ll be surprised too!

Do feel free to share with me your comments, wonderings and stories.