Lemme just tell you a secret: when I come across, “The ONLY _______ You Need is…” or “The BEST Way to _________ is…” on Pinterest, I roll my eyes hard. Sure, these solutions and products might work for some, but there is certainly no guarantee that they’re the “only” or “best” solutions for ME. Hence one reason for this blog, and
this post, is to collect a variety of solutions for many differing individuals!
“This above all: to thine own self be true”
Polonius delivers these wise words to his son in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He is telling his son Laertes to avoid self-deception as he heads to University and enters adulthood. It’s great advice, but often difficult to follow. How often do we make choices based on what others are doing around us? Not necessarily bad choices resulting from negative peer pressure, but rather good choices that might not be what we want for ourselves or families. I know I have been guilty of this, especially in parenthood.
Here’s a small example: my daughter Remy was in a dance class with 3-4 year olds over the summer while preschool was not in session. The other moms were talking one day about all of the activities that their kids were enrolled in; soccer, gymnastics, dance, etc. When another parent prompted me as to whether or not Remy would be in dance class once preschool started, I told the group, “probably not, because she’ll already be in preschool 3 days a week”. They kind of looked at me strangely and one brought up that she thought the extracurricular activities in which her daughter participated were a wonderful support to what she learned in her preschool classroom. Despite her good intentions and friendly dialogue, I felt like I needed to explain my personal need to not be in a car all day every day chauffeuring Remy around because Graham hates his carseat and lots of other reasons… This lovely woman went back and forth with me maybe two more sentences about it and then we moved on to another topic, and YET, by the end of class I ended up saying, “maybe Remy should do dance class during the preschool year”. Face palm! I had wavered on a something I felt great about prior to this conversation with someone who had no intention of changing my mind. Or maybe she did, because she needed to feel justified for being a chauffeur to an (in my opinion) over-scheduled 3 year old. I don’t know! Regardless, I made a decision (that I have since reversed, BTW) based on another’s needs, rather than my own.
How can I be true to my needs? Wait, what are my needs?
My true needs as a woman, an adult, a partner, a mother, an employee, etc., are not anyone else’s needs. They are solely unique to me. I must get to know these needs, rather than accept what others have told me my needs are, in order to be true to myself.
When we live up (example: “you’re so beautiful, you need to model!” or “you’re the most caring person I know, I know you’ll always help me out”) or down (“you’re so slow and incompetent, you’ll never do anything great”) to what others expect of us, we don’t actually get to know ourselves or we deny our true natures. This generally leads to frustration, stress, or depression, because internally we don’t feel fulfilled and externally we feel like we are letting others down (Snyder et al., 1977).
I hope the below resources will help you get to know yourself and your needs so that you can begin living up to what you want and need for yourself. When you know what you need, only then can you select solutions that are right for YOU.
My Favorite Resources for Getting to Know Yourself and Your Needs
- The Color Code profile (AKA The People Code by Dr. Taylor Hartman): This is the easiest personality profile that I’ve been able to understand and put to practical use by getting to the base line of what molds us into who we are–MOTIVE. Reading this helps explain the basics one might need to be motivated and fulfilled in life. It groups everyone into one of four groups (named after red, yellow, blue, and white colors) based on motive and then further explains how other factors such as birth order, extraversion, or upbringing work to form our unique personalities. It is so fascinating and has helped me generally be better at work relationships and friendships and majorly helped me with my spousal relationship. I actually got this book while I was going through a divorce in my early 20s. The book rocked my world in the best way! My advice is find an old copy of the book on Amazon for less than a $1 and buy it, because the book discusses how all of the colors interact together in various types of relationships (romantic, work, and parent/child). Fascinating!
- The 5 Love Languages Profile: I love this profile, because it not only helps you realize how you feel loved, but generally how you like to show love (which tells you about what you need, and what you give is often what you need done for you). Understanding these languages is definitely a great way to keep your needs met (and meet the needs of others) in friendships and familial and romantic relationships.
- Are you an introvert or an extrovert? This quick test gets the general question answered, but the book it’s based off of is great for delving into what recharges you and makes you feel most complete; Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Though I’m not an introvert, we are living in a world that at face value favors extroverted characteristics, and introverted individuals (their families, friends and employers) need to recognize that they have real needs, real value, and real power.
- What type of learner are you? Kinesthetic, auditory, or visual? In my past professional experiences and in my current volunteer work, I often find that people will tell me important information and details in a hallway between points A and B or while I’m driving down a road, expecting that I will remember them when it comes time to act upon said information. What people don’t know is that I’m such a visual learner that if I do not ask them to email or text me as a follow-up to these conversations, odds are that the information will be lost in my sieve of a brain and I’ll fail to accomplish something that was necessary. Since discovering that I am a visual learner, I have tried my best to ask people to follow up with some sort of written/visual communication when it involves something of import that will require action on my part later. Initially, it was a little awkward to ask for “help” from others by requesting they send me visual follow up to verbal conversations, but it is now so much less embarrassing then failing to do something I’ve agreed to do/resolve/consider.
- Meditate or do some sort of spiritual training as often as you can. Daily, weekly, whatever, but take time to be still and quiet and to see what crops up in your mind when there’s nothing else there. I personally LOVE to get up earlier than my family and use at least 10 minutes for this purpose. It makes such a difference in my day to put myself and goals with a higher purpose, first.
These resources are in no ways considered a mental, psychological or other type of medical assessment, nor should you adhere to any of these as rigid ways of seeing yourself. Just explore each resource, noting what sits well and feels like YOU, and make a plan to address your needs more.
SO, who’s Lee and what does she need?
In case you’re wondering, I’m a red-yellow extrovert who feels love predominantly through physical touch and quality time and who learns best visually. I have all sorts of other traits and aspects that make up me, but these are some basics to determine my needs. Once I know those, I can more easily sort through the best solutions for me.
Here’s of a quick example of how some of this self-knowledge interacts: since I’m a hard-core extrovert who’s motivated by fun, I find major rejuvenation in my regularly scheduled girls’ nights. I don’t work outside of my home and there aren’t many stay at home moms in my neighborhood, so I don’t see many friends during the day between the business of drop offs, pick ups, shopping, appointments, cleaning my house–or avoiding cleaning my house–ha, etc. By Thursday, I’m ready to SOCIALIZE in a big way. However, I also reconnect best with my husband Sam through quality time and physical touch meaning that I can’t be away from him at night so often that our relationship takes a back seat to these girls’ nights. We do have date nights regularly for our relationship maintenance (which I know sounds incredibly sexy, and I have a post planned for ways to make those date nights a reality), but sometimes I just need to feel like I know how to “adult” in ways that aren’t romantic or logistical. AKA: I need to håve FUN for fun’s sake–see “yellow needs” 😉 Knowing that I have two sometimes conflicting needs for how my adult time is spent has helped me to plan in advance for both quality time with Sam and friends to avoid feeling bogged down by my needs not being met in these areas.
Of course, this is all individual to me… So. Get cracking, and let me know in the comments anything interesting that you discover about yourself in the process!
PS: Plan It!
Wondering how to fit reading these resources into your busy life? Here’s a post on reading solutions–or, ways to read more. Enjoy 😀