Breaking Free From People-Pleasing: How to Communicate Your Needs
You might be struggling with how to communicate your needs because you’ve never been taught how, or because you’ve been taught the opposite — that it’s better to adapt, people-please, and suppress your own needs to accommodate the needs of others. You might also find it challenging to communicate what you need because you are not even aware of it or you might not feel safe communicating your needs.
Communicating your needs is one of the most important ways to care for yourself. In order to do this effectively, you first need to identify your needs. Once you have a good understanding of what they are, you need to find a way to feel safe communicating them. This might take some time and practice, but it is worth it.
When you finally feel ready, begin by expressing your needs in a gentle way. It might be helpful to think about what outcome you would like to see from this communication.
Why you should communicate your needs
When you communicate your needs, it’s not a selfish act — it’s an act of selflessness. You’re challenging yourself and others to see the situation from a different perspective and to understand what you want and need.
The first step to mindful communication is becoming clear on your thoughts and feelings. You need to be honest with yourself before you can be honest with others. What are your needs? What makes you feel safe and supported? How do you want to feel in this situation?
Once you have a better understanding of your own needs, you’ll be in a better position to communicate them effectively. It’s okay to be assertive and ask for what you want.
How to identify your needs
The first step in identifying your needs is to be tuned in to how you’re feeling. When you’re in touch with your emotions, it becomes easier to express them. So start by noticing how you’re reacting when your needs aren’t being met.
Do you get tense? Anxious? Sad? All of these are valid reactions that can clue you into the fact that you’re not getting what you need. Once you’re aware of how you’re feeling, it’s time to start thinking about what might be causing those feelings.
There are a few key questions you can ask yourself to get to the root of the problem:
- What need do I have that’s not being met?
Is it a basic need like food, water, or sleep? Or the need to feel safe? Are you maybe longing for being loved and appreciated or simply being heard?
- What are the consequences of not having that need met?
- How can I get that need met?
Asking yourself these questions can help you to zoom in on the specific need that’s causing you distress. Once you’ve identified your needs, you can start to think about how to get them met and set boundaries with others.
How to feel safe communicating your needs
One of the hardest things about communicating your needs is feeling like you might upset the other person or that they won’t understand. But the truth is, by not communicating your needs, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Not only does it allow the other person to continue behaving in a way that doesn’t work for you and might create a feeling of distance in your relationship. And it also keeps you from getting your needs met.
One way to start feeling safe communicating your needs is to connect with your feelings. When you can label your feelings and understand where they’re coming from, it’s easier to communicate them to others. Another way to feel safe communicating your needs is to build supportive relationships with the people in your life. When you have supportive relationships, it’s easier to feel like you can express your needs without fear of judgment or rejection. And finally, getting in touch with your feelings will also help you understand the needs of others better. When you can empathize with how they’re feeling, it’s easier to find common ground and work toward a solution that works for both of you.
What causes people-pleasing?
People-pleasing is the act of trying to please others, often to one’s own detriment. People-pleasing can be caused by a variety of factors, including low self-esteem and fear of rejection. But what causes people to have such low self-esteem in the first place?
There are many reasons, but one of the most common is that people with low self-esteem were raised by parents who didn’t give them the emotional support they needed. This led to a sense of insecurity and a fear of anger in these children, which then motivated them to please others in order to avoid any conflict or criticism.
Communication styles to communicate your needs
When it comes to communicating your emotional needs, there are three main communication styles: assertive, passive, and aggressive.
Assertive communicators are able to protect their own needs while also respectfully considering the needs of others. This communication style is often seen as the most effective, as it strikes a balance between being direct and respectful.
Passive communicators, on the other hand, struggle to clearly communicate their needs. They might avoid conflict or shy away from assertive communication out of fear that it will upset the other person. This can often result in feelings of frustration, as their needs are not being met.
Aggressive communicators tend to be very direct in their approach, which can often come across as harsh or confrontational. This style of communication is rarely effective, as it doesn’t take into consideration the needs of others.
The best way to communicate your emotional needs is to find an assertive communication style that works for you. This means being direct in your communication while also being respectful of yourself and others.
Ultimately, the key to communicating your emotional needs is to focus on how you feel, not on what you want from the other person. When you can do that, it becomes much easier for them to understand and meet your needs.
Strategies for assertively communicating your needs
Although it can be difficult, expressing your needs assertively is an important way to care for yourself. The key elements of assertive communication are confidence and clarity. You can express your needs without sounding accusatory by using “I” statements. For example, instead of saying “You never listen to me,” you could say “I feel unheard when you don’t listen to me.”
Another important part of assertive communication is learning to say no. This can be difficult, but it’s a necessary skill for expressing your needs. You can use body language to help communicate your needs. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might put your hand up or say “I need a break.”
If you’re not used to communicating your needs, it might feel awkward or uncomfortable at first. That’s normal! The more you practice, the more confident you’ll become.
It can be challenging to learn how to communicate your emotional needs. It is important to be gentle with yourself as you begin this process. You may find that you need to take some baby steps before you feel comfortable communicating what you need. You may also find that there are some people in your life who are not supportive of your efforts to care for yourself. Remember that you have the right to set boundaries and to choose the people you want in your life. You are worth the effort it takes to learn how to communicate your emotional needs.