Putting Your Needs First
When was the last time someone asked you what you needed? This question may require some thought. My hunch is that the answer is infrequent, if at all. We aren’t accustomed to thinking about needs, but ironically, we tend to focus on our wants. Needs and wants are different however. What we want isn’t always what we need – And, we don’t always want what we need! It is easy to confuse the two.
Needs tend to be basic, belonging, validation, food, shelter, companionship, structure, boundaries, etc., but they are very important. We can’t get too far in life without having these needs met. Want, however tend to involve what we desire, the “would be nice to haves” – But, maybe not. For instance, it is normal to fantasize about having a lot of money, power, feeling good, no limits, etc., but it may not be as great as it looks. Too much desire and chasing such “pleasures” can bring much unhappiness. Our wants can be misleading and take us away from what is most important. It’s usually the simple pleasures that make a life worth living.
The bottom line is that we often confuse needs and wants, interchanging them; therefore it can be hard to get clear on how to set ourselves up for success in creating the conditions needed to thrive.
Learning to want what we need is also the mark of wisdom and maturity.
A few questions to ponder when setting a goal:
- What am I trying to accomplish? Why?
- Will I want the outcome?
- Will the outcome meet my needs?
- Is my goal realistic given my current situation?
- What will be needed to get to accomplish the goal?
Creating the Conditions for Success
Recently a colleague was telling me about a talk she gave at a conference. It was the first time that she did such a thing and had been very nervous about it. I asked her how it went, and she was quick to analyze what went wrong and why. I asked how the audience received her presentation, and she went on to say that there was a great amount of participation and that they asked many thoughtful questions. She even received some compliments on her talk. It sounded as though things went well, but she wasn’t quite satisfied with her performance. I asked what she had wanted to accomplish, and she paused and asked what I meant by the question.
If we want to learn, grow and participate in life; we need to accept that there will be risks- There is no way to avoid risk! However, while risks are inevitable they can be calculated. Planning involves assessing the task at hand and reduces error. Planning also helps us feel more positively about ourselves – enhancing feelings of competence. How often do we ask ourselves what we are setting out to accomplish as we move toward a particular goal? Do we check to see if we are going to have the tools and resources in place to ensure our ability to achieve the goal? Do we give much thought to “How do I want to feel after…this conversation, interview, date, etc.?” – Probably not that often? Getting clear on our goals helps us feel aligned and connected to what we are doing and able to measure our progress.
In the case of my colleague, who, happens to be accomplished and engaging –She wasn’t clear on the main message of her talk and what a successful outcome would look like. As a result, she felt uncertain, uneasy and anxious afterwards. The more we talked, it became clear that she did not establish the conditions needed for her to feel comfortable and in control; so that she could focus on her subject and message and make the impact that she had wanted with her audience.
She did not realize that she could have accessed support from the conference management and have them assist her in preparing materials and handling set up and logistics. Why? She was not aware that she had the option and didn’t think of asking – She unintentionally overlooked her own needs. There was no planning. Delegating some of the tasks could have taken a few items off her plate and freed up space in her head to concentrate on other details. She was managing too many things that had nothing to do with the actual presentation, which took her energy, impacting her ability to focus. As a result of unplanned and unmanaged conditions, she felt pulled in many different directions, creating internal emotional conditions of anxiety and nervousness leaving her feeling out of sync with her audience and uncertain of her performance. She was not fully present in the moment.
Each day we have important tasks at hand which require us to make choices about the conditions which will either support or not support our success. Whether you are looking to get sober, stop over-eating, become more fiscally sound, start a business, or improve a relationship; planning and implementing the conditions to support yourself is vital to your ability to reach your goals. For instance, it is not possible for a person to stay sober in an environment where others continue to drink or engage in addictive behavior – Early recovery (or early anything) requires much energy to sustain new thinking and behavior. The stress of an adverse environment bears too heavy on a newly sober person. It is not realistic to believe “willpower” will be sufficient.
The people around you can make or break your ability to succeed. If they are negative or discouraging, your motivation, enthusiasm, and self-confidence can be dampened. Negativism can erode at your ability to challenge yourself and ride the course of ups and downs that come along with taking healthy risks in the interest of expanding ourselves. For better or for worse, the environment will have a powerful impact on one’s growth and ability to move forward.
4 Keys to a Successful Life
In our culture, it is easy to mistaken success with materials or status. We are encouraged to shoot high and to “upgrade.” However, at the end of the day, material goods are not what generate the warm connective feelings that help us feel content and well about ourselves. Striving is fine and is needed in order to provide for ourselves and our families, however, the goals we set and how we work towards them counts – a lot. A few guidelines to consider including:
- Know what you value, and use your energy to support your values. It is easy to get caught up in a search for “self” – To find out whom we are. “Who am I?” is a really big question asked by humans since the beginning of time – One to my knowledge has not been answered. However, knowing what you value and choosing behavior reflecting your values can be more helpful in developing a sense of self, purpose and self-esteem.
- Build your life around your values and make everyday choices in support of them. Notice how you feel about yourself and your life over the course of time.
- Know your strengths as well as your limitations and build your life accordingly. We can be led to strive toward building lives which may not suite us – Creating more complexity and work than necessary. What works for you? What do you really need? What’s enough? Do you take a road that is tougher and more complicated? Do you enjoy and benefit from your abilities and talents?
- Surround yourself with positive people. Relationships are either “energy giving” or “energy draining.” How do you feel about yourself when around specific people in your life? How do they affect you? If you get honest with yourself, who do you want more of and of whom do you want less?
- Practice self-care in the body and mind. A healthy mind is more likely to reside in a healthy body – and vice versa. When we practice self-care through, our food, movement, non-violent speech, hygiene, and other positive habits we create a solid base of health and wellness upon which everything else is based.
Managing Life: An Adaptive Skill Building Program
People on the autism spectrum and their relatives face many day-to-day challenges. Most people on the spectrum find it hard finding or keeping a job, living by themselves, or establishing and maintaining relationships. Integrated Treatment Solutions provides skill building programs for adolescents, young adults, and adults with developmental disabilities – including autism spectrum disorders. The program is focused on educating participants how to identify and work through difficulties impacting their ability to function more productively. Programming focuses on teaching skills in four areas, including self-soothing and self-management, verbal communication, establishing relationships, and transitioning into the workforce. Group family sessions are part of the program and aimed at reviewing material with the opportunity to practice skills learned. We also work in collaboration with neighboring psychiatrists and other specialists, in the interest of our clients, addressing physical and mental health concerns: depression and anxiety sleep problems, sensory issues, and gastrointestinal problems which are commonalities among people on the autism spectrum.
Integrated Treatment Solutions is pleased to announce the opening of an additional location in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia. Contact us today to schedule an appointment (Thursdays only).
8612 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118