15 Ways to Express Needs & Desires

15 Ways to Express Needs & Desires

“There is a difference between being self-centred and centred in the Self.”  ~ Lynda Austin

We have been trained not to ask for what we want. We will bend ourselves backwards, deny our feelings, and burn ourselves out all to avoid stating our needs. Our social conditioning, and specifically our inner Saboteur, holds us back by stating that putting ourselves first is selfish or wrong, or that we should always give to others first. And yet, we cannot give away what we don’t have. In other words, we must learn to give to ourselves first, fill our own cup so to speak, before we can feed others.

“Everything we want is on the other side of fear.” ~ Farrah Gray

Our social conditioning is based in fear. The four most common ones I see are:
  1. Fear of rejection – If I ask for what I want I’ll get turned down, shunned…again!
  2. Fear of success – If I ask for what I want, and actually get it, will I be able to handle it?
  3. Fear of loss – If I ask for what I want and get it, what might I have to leave behind?
  4. Fear of the unknown – If I ask for what I want and get it, then what? Where will I be? What else may open up?

Asking for what we want can feel vulnerable. We are creatures of habit, and we like to stay within what’s comfortable and familiar. When we ask for what we want we step out of the shadows to declare ourselves and open to the possibility of the new and unknown.

15 simple ways to express your needs and desires:
  • What works for me is to go slow right now.
  • I’d love to do something different, like go for a hike.
  • I’d like to go camping this weekend.
  • Can you repeat that?
  • What I need is a bit more space, and what that looks like is…
  • What resonates for me is spending time indoors.
  • My body needs movement.
  • My sense is I’m going to need more time than I originally said I would.
  • I want to go swimming today.
  • I would like to share my poem with you.
  • My heart is telling me to go there instead.
  • My intuition is telling me to leave.
  • I need to leave early.
  • Will you join me?
  • Let’s go for an adventure!

Expressing your feelings before asking for what you want helps you to connect to yourself and the other person, as well as communicate the importance of your request. For instance:

  • I am feeling tired. I need to leave early.
  • I feel energized! Let’s go for an adventure!
  • I’m feeling uncomfortable about that choice. My heart is telling me to go there instead.

Feeling words: Examples of feeling words you may find useful are ~ uncomfortable, overwhelmed, unclear, stressed, uncertain, tired, confused. These words have less of an edge than words like frustrated, angry, disrespected, and annoyed, and are less likely to cause the other person to feel defensive.

Extra Tips

Tip #1: Just like in 15 Ways to Say No, use as much first person language as you can. Using words like I, Me, My, and Mine help you access and express your truth.

Tip #2: Ask for what you want more of instead of less of. If you catch yourself saying, I want you to stop being so messy, change it to, I need more organization in our house. By doing this we express our needs/values and educate the other person on who we are and what is important to us. We are also better able to connect with the other person, and limit feelings of judgment and defensiveness.

Tip #3: Be calm ~ be aware of your energy while you are speaking. Tone is what creates the majority of the impact in conversation. So stay centred, take a deep breath if needed, and fill your words with calm, grounded energy.

Expressing your needs and desires is essential for living a balanced and fulfilled life. Take time to check in with yourself regularly. If you feel stressed or out of balance, chances are there is a need not being met that wants to be honoured.

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Check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children, A Children’s Book for Adults

Posted in Communication, Self-Care and tagged , , , , , , , , .


  1. Hello Vince,
    I would like to thank you for all your writing tips, which helped me to understand more about my communication course. I liked it because these are an easy way to come over of my fears and get what I want or I need.

    Thank you,

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