Setting Boundaries: How to Put Your Needs First
“That is my toy. And you can’t have it!” a frustrated child screams at her brother. “Now, now, it’s nice to share,” scolds the child’s mother. And so begins the training to suppress your needs, wants, and desires.
From the time you are young, well-intending parents, teachers, and other caretakers, mold you into socially acceptable beings. In many ways this is a positive thing, but part of that training also teaches you to ignore your own needs and desires. And if you are good students of life in society, you become good at suppressing your needs.
Yet, everyone has needs. Those of you who are extra sensitive in nature have become accustomed to continually denying your own needs in order to be nice and accommodating people pleasers.
Needs Expressed as Aggression
However, needs will come to the surface at some point—they are, after all, needs. For those of you who haven’t properly learned how to effectively and consistently express your needs and desires to others, the buildup of not having them met sometimes comes out as aggression.
You know what it’s like. It’s Saturday morning and you finally get to sleep in. It’s been a rough week and you could use a little extra rest. But your kids have other plans. They wake up at 5 a.m. and start arguing and fighting. The trend continues throughout the day and when at one o’clock they refuse to settle down for a nap, you explode. “That’s it! I’ve had it! You two stay in your room until tomorrow morning!” Then you slam the door and both kids start sobbing. You feel terrible for yelling, but are at a loss for what to do.
Ignoring your needs will often lead to outbursts because of the buildup. But if you have the tools to be assertive before you feel anger welling up inside of you, you can save yourself and your loved ones a lot of pain.
The following are a few tools you can practice to strengthen your assertiveness muscles.
1. Recognize Your Needs
Suppressing your needs doesn’t make you a saint; it makes you a doormat. Think about the people you know who are always giving, but never receiving. They usually play the role of martyr. You have heard, if not in real life, on TV, the stereotypical mother who tries to make her children feel guilty, “Oh, after all I’ve done for you, you still don’t call me.”
When you play the role of the victim or martyr, you give away your power to others. Recognize your needs and take care of yourself first. No one else is responsible for your needs. When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re thirsty, drink. When you need a hug, ask.
Dr. David Simon, co-founder of the Chopra Center, used to teach about self-reliance. I’m paraphrasing but he would say something like, “When you’re a baby, you make a peep and people run around …read more
Source: Deepak Chopra