Discerning Unspoken Needs from Spoken Desires: Remembering What Matters in Relationships

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Discerning Unspoken Needs from Spoken Desires: Remembering What Matters in Relationships

“Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn.” ~ Alice Miller When a boy asks his mom for a toy car at the store or a woman asks her husband to do his share of the household duties there is a spoken desire and unspoken need at play. In the first example, the boy’s spoken desire is for the toy car; the unspoken need is to be heard, validated, seen, valued. In the second example, the spoken desire is for the husband to clean the oven; the unspoken need is for shared responsibility and rest. […]

Beyond Feelings it is the Unmet Need that Deserves and Desires Empathy

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Beyond Feelings it is the Unmet Need that Deserves and Desires Empathy

“Sometimes someone isn’t ready to see the bright side. Sometimes they need to sit with the shadow first. So be a friend and sit with them. Make the darkness beautiful.” ~ Victoria Erickson When feeling frustrated, angry, sad, overwhelmed, or any other unpleasant emotion, it’s because a need is not being met. A child disgruntled at school may have an unmet need to move. A parent overwhelmed may have an unmet need of relaxation. A person struck with anger may have an unmet need of safety. Anger is their response to not feeling safe. The feelings are signals for a very important human need not being met.  Acknowledging someone’s feeling is a beautiful gift. Saying, “I can see how sad you are”, or, “This is really painful, isn’t […]

A Complaint is an Unspoken Request ~ Practical Keys to Asking for What You Want

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A Complaint is an Unspoken Request ~ Practical Keys to Asking for What You Want

A woman complained for years that her husband did not give her an anniversary card. One day a friend inquired if she had ever asked for one, and she said no. And so the woman mustered up the will to ask and from that point onwards her husband always gave her an anniversary card. A simple story, a true one, and one full of meaning. If only we’d just ask! A complaint is an unspoken request. Otherwise said, when we don’t ask for what we want we tend to complain about our needs not getting met. Given how much humans love to complain, we can safely say that asking for what we want is not easy. And why should it be? It’s vulnerable to put […]

5 Ways to Smooth Out Potentially Messy Conversations

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5 Ways to Smooth Out Potentially Messy Conversations

Conversations can be messy. When we account for different communication styles, varying worldviews, stress, timelines, competing agendas, children, chores, fears and trauma, we have good reason why a simple dialogue can spiral into triggers and chaos. And when a pattern of unhealthy communication forms, the walls get thicker and it becomes harder to speak candidly and address the meat of the problem and matter at hand. And so what can be done to limit this possibility? Here are five ways to smooth out potentially messy conversations: 1. Create a Signal: You and whoever may benefit from agreeing in advance to have a signal that an important conversation wants to be had. For instance, you agree that whenever one of you desires to speak to the […]

Why Kids Need to Question, Not Conform ~ Unleashing Creativity and the Rascal Within

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Why Kids Need to Question, Not Conform ~ Unleashing Creativity and the Rascal Within

“Creativity is an act of defiance.” ~ Twyla Tharp My mother will tell you that when I was a child I asked “Why?” a lot. My inquisitive nature was more than just a simple childlike curiosity, though. I was provocative, bent on challenging the facts of life, eager to question conventional thought and practice. Like many kids, there was a little rascal in me who wanted to be different, have a voice, and say No. Little did I, or my mother, realize that this rascal had a larger purpose—to forge a path that brings new thought and possibilities into the world. Questioning is a natural and necessary part of any change process. Asking “Why?”, wondering, imagining, dreaming new dreams, engaging in healthy open discussions, and […]

Reclaiming Deservedness and Desire ~ Using Relationships to Heal Your Fear of Asking for What You Want

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Reclaiming Deservedness and Desire ~ Using Relationships to Heal Your Fear of Asking for What You Want

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke As a child, Adam did not have many of his emotional and physical needs met by his mother. Basic needs such as listening and affection were hardly honored. Naturally, over time, Adam believed that his needs and desires were of no value. Anger and hopelessness filled his vulnerable being, and in an act of self-preservation he gave up asking all together. Continuing to believe that he could have his needs met was just too painful to bear. It was easier to just […]

Boundaries versus Speaking Your Truth ~ Own Your Voice. Own Your Worth.

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Boundaries versus Speaking Your Truth ~ Own Your Voice. Own Your Worth.

“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” ~ Barbara De Angelis  A friend of mine recently told me how he doesn’t create strong enough boundaries. People take advantage of him and disregard his needs. After listening to him for a while, I realized that the problem wasn’t so much about boundaries, but rather speaking his truth. When I mentioned this to him, a light bulb went off. When I think about setting […]

Speaking on Behalf of the Relationship ~ Creating Safety & Openness in Conversation

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Speaking on Behalf of the Relationship ~ Creating Safety & Openness in Conversation

Beware! Saying “You” in conversations can be dangerous! We all know what it is like when someone says to us, “You need to…”, or “Why are you always…?” It immediately puts us on the defensive. Speaking on behalf of ourselves is effective. Saying I, Me, My, and Mine helps people stay open to what we are saying. But so does speaking on behalf of the relationship. Recently I had a conversation with someone that left me feeling confused. Instead of saying, “You confused me,” I said, “Our conversation confused me.” By using the word “Our” I point to the relationship. I, of course, could also have said, “I feel confused,” and that would have been fine as well. Other examples of speaking on behalf of […]

Anger and Truth ~ Reclaiming Your Voice and Life

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Anger and Truth ~ Reclaiming Your Voice and Life

We play nice and accommodate others. We don’t speak up and say what is really going on for us. We deny our truth, our Voice, and as such, we reach a boiling point. What starts out as irritation soon becomes anger. We cannot play this game anymore. We cannot continue to deny what is real, what is true inside. Maybe you are staying too long in a relationship, or perhaps you are continuously acquiescing to the needs of others. Perhaps you have tolerated someone’s disrespect for too long now, or maybe you are fed up with how you are treating yourself. You’ve had enough!  It’s time to step forward and claim your voice, speak with assertiveness, and act with clear conviction! Anger is an excellent […]

Owning Your 50% ~ Transforming Conflict into Growth

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Owning Your 50% ~ Transforming Conflict into Growth

In the heat of conflict it is much easier to react than to stay grounded and open. We default to defending our position rather than taking responsibility for our part. We are always playing a role in conflict, whether it is on an overt or subtle level. Owning our 50% takes self-awareness and humility – we must surrender our position and explore how we have contributed to the situation. Recently a friend was upset that I didn’t get back to her sooner. I told her that from my point of view I didn’t feel a need to rush a response. However, from her point of view it only made sense that I would get back within a day. Instead of looking to strengthen my position […]