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October 5, 2020

If We Want Our Needs to Be Met, We Need to Communicate Like Conscious Adults

I’m guilty. 

Guilty of projecting my needs onto another. Projecting my wounds onto another. Feeling unheard and unseen in not asking for what I need and want and consequently not getting what I need or want.

Oof. This work is hard. And draining. And exhausting. It would be so much easier sometimes if someone else could be the source of my problems. Then, I could continue to be free from all this hard emotional labor.

Alright, alright, I don’t mean that. Mostly. I just mean that it gets tiring having to look inward all the damn time at what is triggering me now. What wounds are now being stirred up to look at?

Is that you, abandonment wound? That one doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. I know I know. I need to stop abandoning myself. I get ittttt. I’m tryingggg.

Fear of rejection? Fear of being too much? Not enough? Being f**king human? Having feelings and needs that may be inconvenient to another?

It’s a lot to unpack some days. Especially these days.

How can we speak up for our needs? How can we speak our truth? Even if it counters another person’s? Or doesn’t meet another person’s needs or expectations?

If we’ve practiced self-abandoning for a long time, and I mean a long time, it can feel utterly terrifying at first to verbalize what we are needing and to not abandon our needs just because someone else can’t or won’t meet them.

I get it. We need to be self-sustaining, self-providing, autonomous, independent, self-loving gurus by now. And, sometimes, we just want love from another. Compassion and empathy from another, to remind us that we deserve it.

Is that so wrong? I don’t think so. But, I do think we all have struggled and learned maladaptive ways to communicate those needs.

We get triggered, reactive, explosive. We go radio silent, stuffing our true feelings away instead of giving them space to breathe. Most of us weren’t taught that there is enough space for our emotions, as they are, without any need to be different, less than, or more socially acceptable.

We have had to re-learn and teach ourselves that having feelings and needs are okay. And, we don’t need to feel like a damn emotional, needy, less-than human because of it.

What we can do, is actively start to breech our fears of what may happen if we start to speak up about how we actually are feeling. What is on the other side of fear may in fact, be freedom.

To feel free enough to voice, with kindness, respect and own-ness about how we feel. To say, yes these are my feelings, and yes I am needing some space and acknowledgment of them to feel safe enough to be here.

Sometimes, it’s hard to speak up for how we feel because we fear that this person will not hear us out or even understand us. Maybe, they won’t. We fear they will reject us and validate this wounding that our needs really don’t matter, meaning we don’t matter.

As children, with imperfect often times unconscious parents raising us, we learned that some of our needs were perceived to be a “burden” to our caregivers. As they were maybe unable to meet their own needs. We learn that certain things are spoken, while some are definitely not.

Communication is harddd. It is rarely a thing we are super comfortable with if we are voicing something that goes directly against our wiring and conditioning. If we were taught to stuff, silence, and pretend, then these will be the default modes of operation.

Once we begin to recognize these patterns, it doesn’t always get easier. Now, we see we have a choice. We have to choose to be uncomfortable. And, as humans, wired for survival and ease, most of us don’t want to feel uncomfortable.

We have learned that discomfort means horrible bad things are happening or will soon happen. This is the fear. We fear that we will be abandoned. That we will be unloved. That we will be perceived as needy or too sensitive.

These are all judgments we carry and shame we’ve held onto. That parts of ourself are simply not welcomed. That they don’t get to have a voice.

But, what does that do? When we don’t give a voice to the hurt, abandoned, wounded, uncared for, unseen and unheard parts of the self, we resort to other means to soothe the self-betrayal and the ache: enter the world of addictions and escapism.

We escape into the artificial world of technology or social media to get the validation we didn’t get from our partner. Or, into a carton of icecream to numb the hollow feelings inside. We go unconscious.

We can choose though to become conscious again, to use any and all creative and expressive means when we are not giving expression and voice to these parts of the self.

Writing. Dancing. Speaking. Creating. Moving the body. Channeling the emotion. Energy in motion. Crying. Being with. Tending to. Holding space for the self.

Communicating to the self that IT IS SAFE to be with these uncomfortable emotions. Perhaps, we need our communication the most.

It isn’t easy to communicate our needs. To speak up. To turn and face ourselves even, to look into the mirror, and say, “There is hurt still here.”

We are all mirrors in progress and in process of each other. We oscillate between these inner and outer worlds daily, hourly. We connect with another. We connect with self. Or, we disconnect. The choice is ours.

And, it’s not easy. It’s all for us, but that doesn’t mean it will ever be too comfortable growing, stretching, facing our fears. If we don’t, what will we have but little to no understanding of who we are and where we could actually grow and evolve.

Projection of our needs onto another is easy. Ownership of our unmet needs is harder. In a relating dynamic, as we all relate to another at some point or another, it requires our egos to take a back seat, to feel into what the ego is trying to protect underneath. Often times, it is buried pain and old hurt we boxed away to deal with at another time, but the time never comes until another stirs it up in us.

The “work” of relating to others never truly ends. The containers we find ourselves in: work, romantic, or otherwise, always hold space for what it is we are needing to unearth and discover. It’s not easy to speak up for the self who was shamed, judged and ridiculed.

But, if we want to be conscious humans, we need to start speaking up. Giving a voice to these silenced parts of the self. Find a journal. Find a blank page. Find a blank canvas. Phone a friend. Breathe it out into nature. Cry and stomp it into the earth.

Communicate the unspeakable and watch what happens. Maybe, your misplaced power will return to you. Maybe, all you fear is simultaneously what you’ll gain. Little by little, we’ll gain momentum.

We’ll keep making choices that push the edges a little bit more. We’ll communicate when our default mode would be to go silent. We’ll speak our vulnerabilities into existence. Because, we exist and that in and of itself is a damn vulnerable thing.

We only can create change when we change. Even, if it’s uncomfortable. We can go against our mode of conditioning and operation and begin a new pathway of communication in the face of fear.

To stand firm, no matter how much our legs may quiver beneath us, and to silence ourselves no longer. To speak our needs, our desires, our feelings. And, to say to those feelings and to the self with that declaration, “You matter.”

Because, we damn well do matter. And, it’s time we start acting like it and be on our own side for once.

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