Do you find yourself being unhappy, but you don't know why, since everything "seems fine"?
Knowing your life values can help you figure out the "why" and feel fulfilled consistently.
Values are the aspects of life that you, well, value most at your core. They are different what you need right now, but are the things you value in general.
How are you supposed to figure out your values? I recommend starting by thinking of a time when you felt happy and fulfilled, and writing about it in detail. What activities were you performing? Who did you have around you? What about the experience felt most exciting?
For example, one of my happiest memories is travelling alone in Southeast Asia. I loved figuring out how to travel on my own. I loved travelling slowly and leisurely, without moving around quickly from town to town and island to island. And I loved meeting new people.
What about you? What is your experience that made you feel happy and fulfilled?
Once you write about this experience, extrapolate 10 values from this list that you notice were honored during that experience.
The values I honored during my trip include:
Pick your 5 top values. These are the things you care most about. When you live a life that honors these values, you feel fulfilled and happy.
Ask yourself: How are you currently honoring these needs in your current life? How could you honor them more through your actions?
When you are living a life that honors your most important values, your needs feel "taken care of." Understanding your values can help you feel more grounded and committed to what you're looking for in life, and less likely to get overwhelmed by it all.
I notice that when women are trying to figure out what they need when they feel "off," 2 hurdles come up:
1. Self-esteem: You may get caught up in "I hate myself! Why should I take care of myself when I'm such a bad person?"
2. A specific outcome: You really hate your job. You really, really hate your job. It's hard to see beyond this. You look at the list of emotional needs to figure out how to describe your needs and think, " I don't need to figure out an emotional need. I already know what the problem is -- my job."
Here is how to get unstuck here:
1. Take self-esteem out of it. When you see a baby crying, you know that baby needs something, whether it's a "bad" or "good" baby. It needs hugs, it needs food, it needs a diaper changed, etc. When you are interrogating what you need, take self-esteem out of it. Whether you think you're a "good" or "bad" person, what we know is that you are A person, and you have needs. Try to "snooze" on the question of your goodness or badness, and treat yourself like a baby who is crying. Ask "what does the baby need, and how can I provide it for them?"
2. Ask, "what's the most important thing about my current lack?" We know you really hate your job. We know you really hate being single. But what does make your job suck so much? When you imagine a job in which you're happier, what do you imagine? What is important about getting a different job? What is important about getting a romantic partner? Interrogate the outcome you desire, and think of what seems most magical about achieving the outcome.
Most importantly, use a word from this list to describe what you are missing.
Consider speaking about your current predicament using a word from the list of emotional needs. Instead of telling people "I hate my job and can't wait to get out." Say, "I'm really looking for an environment with more flexibility. I want this so badly." Instead of saying, "I'm so sick of being single," say, "I'm really looking for the right kind of companionship in my life."
This language signals to your community what you actually want, and gets them excited about helping you achieve it. Note that using outcome-based language (such as "I want a new job" or "I want a wife") lets others fill in their preconceived notions about jobs and wives. They may assume you simply want to make more money, or that you're simply looking for the stability of marriage. Using "needs words" stops these misconceptions about what you're looking for, not only for yourself, but for everyone around you.
I know the title of this post is a Spice Girls reference, but the situation I'd like to talk about today is when you can't figure out what you want, when you have no idea if you want to "zig a zig ah"!
As you may know if you follow my writing, I have been talking nonstop about how to assess what you need using this universal list of needs. I talk a lot about honoring your emotional needs instead of pushing them away.
However, what are you supposed to do when two needs bump up against each other and seem irreconcilable? For example, what if you are desperately yearning for self-expression, through your love of singing, but you also reeeeally care about security, in the form of $$$? Perhaps singing has not been lucrative for you financially, so how are you supposed to reconcile those two needs???
When you have two different needs that fight for your attention, it can feel less like the Spice Girls and more like Brandi and Monica fighting over their boy! (Yes, I grew up in the '90s.) These two needs are fighting over who you will choose, and you have no idea who you should listen to.
It may seem tempting to say "I don't need security. I'm just gonna go out there and be a singer! Who cares if I'm broke?" It may also be tempting to say "singing is not realistic. I care about security, so I'm going to let go of self-expression."
But in the long run, your old friends Security or Self-Expression will come running back and demanding answers, Brandi and Monica style. You cannot escape.
Instead, try giving space to your different needs, and staying curious about them. Act as if they are your children. Give each of them the attention they deserve.
I actually speak to my needs. I ask them, "Security, if I get a promotion this year, would you feel comfortable with me spending $ on some singing lessons?"
"Self-Expression, how would you feel about me singing every month at a choir? Is that enough singing for you for now?"
Other needs may chime in. For example, Ease, who may say," Please don't add this choir thing to your schedule. You need to rest!!"
You get the picture.
But through an open dialogue, you will often be able to negotiate with and find compromises between different needs. This will enable you to prioritize different needs more easily. Often, this dialogue will also spark creativity in you, coming up with ingenious solutions to meet your needs.
So keep up the conversation, and most importantly, take all of your needs seriously. They are not going away.
Are you feeling totally "off," but having a hard time understanding what you're yearning for? Are you thinking "I have no idea why I feel so sad or strange right now, so I have no idea how to make it better"? Here are 2 strategies you can use to figure out and honor what you need.
1. At this moment, assess your need using this list of universal needs. You may feel uncomfortable with or unsure of the need you picked. Notice your self-judgement. You may be saying things like this to yourself: "I need love, but I don't deserve it because I'm an unloveable person." "Yeah, I need belonging, but in my life, I have never felt like I belonged, so meeting this need is just not in the cards for me."
Even if you have never known what it's like to fulfill a need like "belonging" or "love," and even if you feel like you don't deserve to have this need fulfilled, sit with your desire. Admit to yourself that despite your past or your views of yourself, you want this. Breathe and take in your desire.
2. Grieve the fact that your need hasn't been met yet. This is a step many people overlook. Do you need safety at this moment, but you don't feel safe? That is an upsetting reality. Have you, in fact, never felt safe? That is a tragedy. Let yourself grieve this reality, and have compassion for yourself. Ask yourself "how would I feel if this need was never fulfilled?" This will embolden your desire and remind you why you want this, and why it's important to you to meet this need. Be gentle with yourself during this step.
These two strategies can help us admit to ourselves that we are human, and part of being human is having emotional needs! Slowing down and sitting with our desire and grief helps us connect with and believe our emotions. This is the first step toward meeting the need. Don't skip it!
Are you feeling more "at home" with your needs? What else is coming up for you? Feel free to reach out in the comments. <3
Do you ever feel like your life is missing something but you just don't know what? (I promise, this is not the start of an infomercial.) Technically, everything is fine. You have a great job, a comfy apartment, supportive friends. But something feels "off." How are you supposed to figure out what's wrong?
It may feel strange to complain since everything is, as we've said, technically fine. From experience, though, that feeling is not going to go away if you don't tend to it. I remember a few years ago when I had a fun advertising job in Tel Aviv, when I went to a lot of parties and enjoyed beautiful nights on the beach, and I still felt horrible. It was excruciating to take myself away from that "great" situation and dig in.
But I had to do it. And you can too.
The first step is to fully describe a recent situation in which you felt incredibly "weird," "off," or sad. Maybe you hated having people over to your house the other day. Maybe you felt uncomfortable when they touched all your things. Maybe you felt embarrassed that they saw your dying plant.
(Maybe "you" is "me" in this case. Hehehe.)
The second step is to ask yourself: "In this situation, what do I need that I'm not getting?" "What am I yearning for that isn't being fulfilled?"
Make sure the answer is about your emotional needs. Look for words from this list. (Note, the answer is not "I need everyone to leave my house and never come over" or "I need to live in a mansion.") For the situation above, maybe you need order to feel comfortable in your home. Perhaps you need self-esteem about yourself as a homemaker.
Write as many "needs words" as you can. Ask yourself "What's important about me not fulfilling this need?" "What would be possible for me if I did fulfill this need?" "Does this need conflict with any other important need in my life?"
Voila! Now you know what's going on, and knowing is half the battle.
PS see my follow-up blogpost on digging deeper into what you need here, and my Facebook videos with a more detailed how-to, including a Q&A, here and here.
To keep updated, I recommend liking my page on Facebook. I am livestreaming and writing about the 4 steps toward confidence when you're feeling off throughout May and early June. <3
I know a lot of anxious people. I'm Jewish after all. And this is an anxiety-inducing time. My social circle and I worry about war; we worry about people losing their political rights; but we also worry about getting in a car crash, getting abducted by aliens, and getting rabies. It's a free-for-all of anxiety!
I recently realized that the anxious people I know are so creative with all the bad things they think will happen! My husband, who is a fun-loving version of Larry David -- comes up with some amazing scenarios. "What would happen if we had triplets and then we both lost our jobs?" He ponders. "What if I meet Eddie Murphy and he doesn't like me?" he questions.
This made me wonder (Carrie Bradshaw style, as usual), what if us anxious people could use the creativity we employ when imagining horrible scenarios, into imagining our goals and dreams? And I don't mean pie-in-the-sky dreams. (Perhaps focusing on meeting Eddie Murphy is not the most productive thing to do.) I mean envisioning things we want in our near-ish future. What if we used this brainpower to imagine having a baby and living a great life with that baby? What if we truly envisioned what it would feel like to get a promotion at work?
I actually started doing this every morning (as part of my work with my business coach), and I love the impact this practice has had on me. I now get to live in the world where I accomplished some of my goals, and I envision how good that is going to feel. My world is much more magical and exciting every day.
Consider using your anxious powers not only to imagine car crashes, but to imagine all the amazing things that will happen to you. Your brain is obviously full of ideas. Why not imagine some fun ones?