Throughout recovery we learn about the importance of communication, articulating our feelings, and asking for our needs to be met. We’re told we, like other humans, deserve to have our needs met. What exactly are these needs?
As human beings we have a few basic needs to survive, like food, water, and shelter. If these needs are met regularly we have a better chance at living. There are other needs humans need that come next. Needs like love, support, encouragement, and validation, are needs humans need for development. Many of us grew up without these needs being met by our parents, family members, and other people in our lives. It’s hard to survive without food, water, and shelter. To live without love and support, we turned to other means of survival, like drugs and alcohol or other harmful behaviors. Substances helped us fulfill those needs or feel like we didn’t have them at all.
When we let go of the harmful substances in our lives to turn to recovery, we find we have always been in need, that substances never really fulfilled the need, and we are still in need. Reconciling with these needs is challenging, especially when it requires the use of an emotional vocabulary we are just starting to learn. Afraid of confrontation, rejection, or being left without our needs yet once more, we often continue to suffer, shying away from any opportunity to assert ourselves. Look to some of these tips for encouragement and guidance.
- Use “I” instead of “you” statements. The common model is “I feel”. Our needs can sound like facts or opinions to others. Your needs are about you, not what is wrong or right about someone else’s behaviors.
- Take time to figure out what you need before you ask for it. The more clarity you have on what exactly it is you are needing, the easier it will be for someone else to understand and respond accordingly.
- Be realistic in your needs. It’s easy to feel like we need everyone to act in regard to our desires, but that likely won’t happen. Look to needs to that approachable and achievable. For example, instead of saying to someone, “I need you to make me more happy” you might say “I need more quality time with you, without interruption.”
- Clarify your needs. Do you need change? Improvement? Action? To hear something? Check in with your emotional needs about a situation and put them into actionable terms. What can be done to help this need be fulfilled?
Avalon By The Sea offers family therapy as well as intensive relationship counseling. Mental health can affect everyone. Healing is a group effort. Avalon is one of California’s only certified treatment facilities for primary psychiatric diagnoses. For a confidential assessment or more information on our programs of treatment, call 1 (888) 958-7511 today.