Coping Through the Holidays Tip #3: Express Your Needs

A wise woman recently pointed out to me that she has spent so much time practicing gratitude over the years that the act of asking for something felt completely selfish and vain. Can you believe it??? Of course it’s not all that surprising when so many of us have been raised with this sentiment: be kind and generous…care for other’s needs and dismiss our own. Maybe that’s not the overt message but it is all too often experienced implicitly by many. But in reality that’s not the way it works. Human beings by nature are in the business of needing, it’s an important aspect of being in a relationship. We give and we receive. It has to work both ways and it’s been that way since we were born – why stop now? I think we get into a lot of trouble when we deny our needs, so do yourself and your loved ones a favor and let them in on the secret about what makes you happy.

Back in 1995 Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages in which he identifies the different ways that we give to each other: words of affirmation; acts of service; receiving gifts; quality time; and physical touch. Chapman’s book also indicates how we often prefer some of these gifts when others would not care for them at all. It sort of makes you stop and think about the golden rule then, doesn’t it? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” really only works well if both of you happen to want the same thing. If what you’re doing unto others isn’t really wanted then it seems like something’s really missing doesn’t it? And here’s a big secret: as much as we all wish it to be true, our loved ones are definitely not mind readers. Let me say that again: Our loved ones are not mind readers. They can’t be expected to know what we want unless we clue them in. And sometimes hints are not enough, sometimes we just gotta spell it out. So do everyone a favor this holiday season and leave your wish list on the counter for someone special to see.

I assume that most of us can relate to the joy it brings when you give a gift to someone who is truly appreciative – when you get it right and they feel known, valued and loved. Why not give them the same kind of joy – to witness you getting a gift that helps you feel known, valued and loved? Think of all the great modeling you’ll be offering to others when they see that your needs are being met. And think of how much more capable you will be to give of yourself when coming from a place of resource and abundance rather than depletion? There are tons of benefits in doing this – I strongly urge you to give it a try.

Of course people can only give in the capacity from which they are able…so if you ask for a real-life Little Einstein’s Red Rocket Ship for the umpteenth time and your child still hasn’t provided, you can’t really hold it against her or him. On the other hand, they probably can make you a hand-made gift, say “I love you” on occasion, give hugs from time to time, help out around the house and play games or go for a walk with you. And you can rest assured that it’s ok to ask.

Copyright 2017 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

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