Have you ever struggled to answer the question, “What do you need?” Me too.
There are so many lessons in life that I feel I missed. I have a masters degree, have read lots of books, been to church my whole life, and grew up watching ABC Afterschool Specials.
And yet somehow I am still learning just how much I don’t know.
One of the lessons that I’m learning is how to continually grow my EQ or Emotional Intelligence Quotient.
EQ is one of those things that anyone can grow in. It may be easier for some, but all of us can develop our EQ.
A big part of this growth is understanding what you need.
Often, we struggle with knowing how to express our needs. We wrongly assume that people can read our minds and understand what we are feeling. We often get upset because someone doesn’t play by the same set of rules we play by. Our expectations can be valid, but we must communicate them with the people we interact with.
So often, in life, someone will ask, “Let me know what you need.” What do you say in that moment?
If you don’t know yourself then you will not be able to clearly articulate your needs.
We tend to resort to the silent treatment or hostility. The silent treatment is hoping the other person will figure out our pain. Hostility is a failure to control ones emotions. Neither is healthy. Both are focused on the immediate emotion and not the underlying needs.
God has given us the gift of emotions to express our needs. Often we stop with the emotion and forget to the do the hard work of figuring out what the need is behind the emotion.
As humans we are wired to desire pleasure. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life, but often the need for pleasure causes us to avoid pain. So when we feel sadness we rush to find a quick fix instead of trying to figure out the need. When we feel lonely we want to microwave results instead of looking deep into what the real issue is.
A good discipline to practice is defining what you need.
When you feel sad what is the need behind the emotion? We tend to focus on the immediate situation, but we need to dig deeper. Maybe you can relate to this…
Someone close to you says something like…
You are doing ____ wrong. I wish you would do _____ more.
In that instant I feel defensive. I didn’t mean to hurt their feelings, but they are putting pressure on me. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. And then I quickly go into how I have made efforts. Or I would agree, promise things would change, and then end up hearing the same thing a few months later.
The emotion led to the conversation, but what is missing is the need.
What do you need? You need to feel secure. You need to feel valued. You need to feel heard. You need to feel loved. The emotion is the response, but the need is what has to be met.
Think about it this way…
If God came to you and asked you what you needed what would you tell Him? Would you focus on your immediate situation or would you focus on your deepest needs.
In Nehemiah 2 we have an amazing conversation. Nehemiah feels sadness because of the condition of the wall in Jerusalem. It’s a burden he feels. He is a servant of the king and afraid to express his feelings. He could be killed for sharing his thoughts. He has never shown the emotion of sadness. When he does the king asks him what he wants?
The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.” … Nehemiah 2:4-5
What do you want?
What do you need?
I need to feel respected. It’s not my job to control other people, but it is my job to help people understand who I am.
What do I want? Most people don’t know. If you don’t know what you want you tend to not know where you are going. That’s aimless.
God knows my heart better than I do. I start with, “God show me who I am.” The next step is to ask God, “What do I need?”
This is not easy stuff. Understanding who we are is not easy. The healthiest people are the ones that do the hard work to know what they need. If you don’t you’ll spend a lifetime trying to fix issues with temporary pleasures.
You’ll never get what you truly want in life if you do not do the difficult work of figuring out what you need.
Is expressing your needs something that is easy or difficult for you? Have you done much research on EQ?