How to Get What You Need

growthDid you grow up like me, feeling ashamed of your emotions?

They seemed too much for the people around me, and I got the message that there was something wrong with me for having them. And so, I stopped having them, or at least I tried, with drugs, alcohol, and any other distraction I could get my hands on. I numbed my feelings out until I felt very little of anything at all. Until the cork blew, and then I’d lash them out at anyone I could lay blame on. Sound familiar?

As a young adult, I realized that I needed help. I tried yoga, mindfulness, therapy . . . the works! Step-by-step I learned another way to be with my emotions. I learned how to be present to them, and value them as a gateway to meeting my deepest needs.

One of the pivotal “aha!” moments happened to me at a workshop on Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication. That's where I learned that my emotions have an important purpose in any situation: to communicate to me whether or not my needs have been met!

Can you think of a time today when one of your needs was met? How did you feel? Contented, happy, free, joyful, peaceful, relaxed, grateful, warm, calm, hopeful, comfortable, neutral, or fulfilled?

Can you think of a time today when one of your needs wasn’t met? How did you feel? Frustrated, angry, confused, discouraged, disgusted, hurt, afraid, sad, mad, overwhelmed, or embarrassed?

Pleasant emotions communicate to us that our deepest needs have been met. Difficult emotions communicate that our deepest needs have not been met.

Even your most difficult emotions are trying to help you. The key is to ask about, name, and feel the emotion you’re feeling. Once you feel in touch with the emotion, ask yourself the following:


What is my deepest need right now?

  • Savour how important this need is to you as you breathe. Notice the effects.


What is one step I can take toward meeting this need?

  • Visualise taking this step as you breathe. Notice the effects.


Though it takes a lot of practice to change the way we’ve learned to act out on or stuff down our emotions in the heat of the moment, it is possible, and well worth the effort. 


Here's to harnessing the power of our emotions and meeting our deepest needs!    

Until next time,