Hidden Needs

According to Marshall Rosenberg, we all have a need for trust. We can get confused however on using it as a need or a strategy. Strategies are what we do to try and meet needs. If we want someone to trust us, that could be strategy to meet another need. For example, I’m having some difficulty with my daughter regarding my grandchildren. I perceive that she doesn’t trust me. She resists my taking the grandchildren on outings.

I decide I need her to trust me; that’s the issue, trust. But that really isn’t my unmet need. To help uncover the unmet I need to ask myself, “What would it give me if she trusted me?” Well, it might be easier (ease), or it might be I would see myself as a competent grandmother (competence). In other words, perhaps I want my daughter to help me feel less anxious about my skills as a grandmother. Perhaps I’m also telling myself “if I were a good grandmother, she would trust me”. I see her action as what it means about me, not what it means about her.

When we are unconsciously asking someone to “make us feel better” we often will get pushback. It doesn’t come across as a request, but a demand, and a hidden one at that. My daughter may tell herself she already has enough to do without having to make her mother “feel better”. If we can get clear on what we are really needing, we can have some self-empathy about this issue. We can separate our own needs from our daughter’s. Then we can make some room for hearing what our daughter needs.

Her need very well may be trust. She would like to trust her children would be safe with me. It may be because of her past experiences with me, and it may have nothing to do with me. And I won’t know until we have that conversation. The more clear I can get on what my needs really are, the better the chances I have on getting those needs met.

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