Vocabulary of Needs

22nd July 2019

Children are pretty good at expressing their needs both in their body language and their words. Their vocabulary is small, but their needs are much more foundational.

“I’m hungry.”

“I’m tired.”

“I want some attention.”

As adults we complicate our needs and begin to find it hard to find the exact words we can use to express those needs. We stop expressing ourselves directly, and invent convoluted ways to express our needs in the hope that someone will “figure us out” in the way our parents used to when we couldn’t even speak. It’s not usually intentional, but it can be very difficult to get your needs met when you are unable to explain them, even to yourself.

This leads to painful and desperate expressions of our needs, like sulking, passive-aggressive language, dominating conversations and talking about oneself, and pretending as though our feelings don’t matter when in reality we want so deeply for others to recognise us.

What words do you use to express your needs?

Do you attribute things to your upbringing or your culture that you have more control over than you think?

Do you blame others for your unmet needs, or do you recognise that it’s nobody’s responsibility but your own to find ways to meet your needs?

I wonder, if we all gave voice to our needs and expressed them openly and directly instead of turning them into enigma, would we be more able to connect with one another?

I think that all humans have the same fundamental needs, and we all have to find our own way of expressing those needs. We can become more fulfilled and more frequently have feelings of happiness, joy and recognition descend upon us when we find our own vocabulary of needs.

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