How to Tune into Your Needs
If you grew up emotionally neglected or abused, you may have developed the belief that your needs are not important and that you are selfish for having them. You may even automatically put others before yourself without thinking, as it has been so engrained in you. Here are some tips for how to tune into yourself, and begin putting your needs first:
1. Use your feelings as your guide. If you’re feeling angry, sad, frustrated, etc, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” You may not even be sure of what you’re feeling… maybe you can only pick up on feeling something “bad” or “uncomfortable.” Explore it. Find the roots. Honor your feelings. Because our feelings are indicators of our values and boundaries, and when they are being violated.
2. Recognize your self-doubt, if you have it. Many victims of abuse or neglect have become wired to believe they are “bad” or at fault for anything unpleasant or hurtful that happens. Doubt can become the fog between you and your needs. Using mindfulness, separate your self-doubt from who you are. You are not your self-doubt. You are worthy. You are good. You are enough. These are truths, but you have been brainwashed to believe otherwise.
3. Take time to build self-awareness into yourself and why you struggle with meeting your needs. Usually it is because of your childhood and how your parents raised you that have caused you to become that way–Mom called you selfish and shamed you. Dad neglected or left you. Explore your story, and give voice to the feelings that come up.
4. Make a practice into telling yourself frequently, “My needs are important,” and “I will honor my needs.” Everyone has needs. Everyone. While everyone else is advocating for theirs, it is up to you to advocate for yours. Repetition and practice will re-wire your brain from “My needs aren’t important” to “My needs ARE important and deserve to be heard.”
5. Practice tuning into yourself throughout the day. Ask yourself, how am I feeling right now? What do I need? Be patient with yourself, especially in the beginning. It may be difficult hearing yourself initially, but the more you tune in, the more you’ll be able to recognize your inner voice.
6. Make sure to have support! At times dealing with the feelings that come up may be overwhelming–like a beginner starting out on a 10-mile run. But take one step at a time. Having the support of a therapist or loved one will help you through the process. Remind yourself that you’re building a new skill from scratch. You can do it!