It's hard to reach your destination without a road map.
Happiness, satisfaction and joy comes from having your needs met, but how can you meet them if you don't know what they are? Some of our needs are simple; we need food, water and air to breathe. We also need to be physically whole and free of sickness, needs that are paramount for all of us at this time.
Physical needs may be more clear and obvious, but what about your psychological and emotional needs? What about your need to be heard, respected and valued? Or perhaps your need for autonomy and independence? These can be harder to pin down, as they often masquerade as other needs and emotions. So what to do?
One solution is to put the burden of deciphering the complicated web of our wants, needs and desires on our partners. If they truly love us, we reason, then they should know how to make us happy. Failure to do this, we say to ourselves, is clearly a failure on their part and proof of their lack of commitment to the relationship. We bemoan the fact that nobody can be there for us, and yearn for the day when we meet our true love ("One day my prince will come!") who will magically know all of our innermost needs and fulfill them.
The problem with this strategy is we may be waiting a long time.
Another, perhaps more effective strategy is to take responsibility for our own needs and set about doing our best to communicate these needs to our partners. Rather than expecting them to "just know", we can take on that responsibility and set about untangling the often-complicated tapestry of needs and emotions that envelopes our heart. By presenting your needs to your partner in a clear and concise way, you can then both work together on getting them met. Identifying your needs puts you both on the starting line, with the vast expanse of your lives together unfolding in front you. It's a long and challenging journey, but now you'll be travelling it together with common goals and a clear destination.
Sounds tough? It is! But here are 3 quick steps to set you on your way to greater personal happiness and relationship harmony:
Step 1. Breathe and Reflect. What are you feeling right now? Can you name this emotion you are feeling? Emotions are the result of met and unmet needs, so the first step discovering what those needs are is to determine what you are feeling. Are you sad, fearful, disappointed? Or perhaps frustrated and alone? All of these emotions are signposts pointing to a specific need you need to fill. Listen to yourself carefully.
Step 2. Beyond the feeling. Once you have determined how you are feeling, the next step is understanding the need behind the feeling. Easier said than done! Our feelings and needs can be great chameleons, shifting and obscuring themselves to appear as something other than what they really are. Sit quietly and try to see beyond your feelings to your needs. For example, are you feeling alone because you feel you don't have enough emotional contact with your partner? Is your need to feel heard not being met? If that is the case, then what can you do about it?
Step 3. Talk to him. Once you have determined your needs (or at least one of them) then try to determine clearly what your partner can do to meet that need. Be specific! Your partner loves and cares deeply about you and wants to make you happy, so now is your chance to tell them exactly how to do it. Instead of staying silent and hoping they will just know what your needs are and how to meet them, you will instead present them with a clear path to doing just that. For example, a solution to feelings of loneliness and isolation might be to have 30 minutes of quiet time together in the evening or over coffee in the mornings away from phones, computers and Netflix. This would be an opportunity to connect, share our feelings and reinforce the fact that you are both in this together.
Take control of your life by taking responsibility of your needs and emotions and then communicating these needs clearly and directly in a non-judgmental manner. Focus on your own needs rather than your partner's perceived shortcomings, and you will find him open and eager to assist in your ongoing happiness. Be ready to admit that you may not know what your needs truly are, but don't let that stand in your way! Be gentle with yourself, and rest in the knowledge that this is a path worth pursuing.
In this time of stress and uncertainty it is vital that we be there for each other, and by opening our emotional doors and letting them in we can start the process leading to happiness and fulfilment.