“I don’t know what I need” is the response I often get when I ask a client what her needs are or when people answer this question in a workshop.
Many of us don’t know what our needs are. Perhaps you’ve never stopped to think about it. One woman said no one has ever asked her what her needs are.
Why? Women usually are meeting the needs of others while her needs go unmet.
Unmet needs cause frustration, hurt, along with mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. Unmet needs cause relationship problems. Women don’t pay attention to our needs, but we look to others to meet our needs, which leads to unmet expectations. Unmet expectations are the killer of most relationships.
Knowing your needs and voicing your needs are healthy. Here are 5 things to know about your needs.
1. Many women see the needs of others and meet them instinctively. Yet, we don’t understand why our husbands, significant others, or children don’t reciprocate. This causes disappointment, frustration, and downright anger. We expect others to see and meet our needs just by osmosis. That’s unfair. Genders and personalities are different and you can’t expect someone to know what you need when you don’t know or let your needs be known.
2. Women are socialized to meet everyone else’s needs. The expectation of being a godly Christian woman (can I just be honest?) is that you do it all for everybody. It’s the expectation of the secular world, too. Remember the 1980’s commercial of the woman who brings home the bacon, fries it up in the pan, and never, never lets her guy forget he’s a man?
I’m exhausted just thinking about it. We’re supposed to take care of the physical, emotional needs of our children and spouse, and along with our husband’s sexual needs. This expectation doesn’t change with age.
I used to do it all and crashed and burned. The lack of self-care and stress negatively impacted my family and marriage. Ten years ago, I left the teaching profession because something in my life needed to change. A less stressful job was the primary need at the time that could be changed.
3. Women are socialized that’s it’s selfish to speak up for our needs. We’re supposed to give, give, and give some more with a smile on our face and a song in our heart. We aren’t supposed to be tired or bothered or be mindful of our needs, says the unwritten rule. It’s not feminine if we do. Instead, it’s prideful, selfish, or (expletive) worthy.
This expectation harms women, especially young women. Recent conversations with young moms reveals a new perception of motherhood that’s from another time period, about 60 years ago when women’s roles were devalued, only today’s version is redefined with idyllic Pinterest boards and Instagram photos.
Husbands are objectifying their wives and women are feeling increasingly worthless and not enough.
I’m not making this up. I’m really, really, concerned about the expectations young women are putting on themselves and the expectations young husbands/partners are putting on the woman they are supposed to love. Especially in the bedroom. Fifty Shades of Grey entertainment is harming women, men, and expectations of relationships.
It’s not okay! Women are not objects that unconditionally give out to the needs of others. We are not vending machines. We are people.
4. We women need to know our needs and not rely on others exclusively to meet them. Knowing your needs and speaking up for them is a vital principle in creating healthy boundaries, healthy relationships, and healthy mental, physical, and emotional health. When you’re sick, you have to acknowledge your need and seek treatment. It’s the same way with everything else in your life. If you need more time in your day or fewer responsibilities, it’s up to you to see what you can control to destress your schedule or life. This includes cutting out activities or responsibilities, delegating, and saying no to others when needed. (My first book covers how to practically do this. Find out more here.)
5. God is the only one who can meet all of your needs. Philippians 4 has several verses that you can count on every time relating to your needs. It’s also the model God sets for knowing and speaking up for your needs.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition, present your requests (needs) to God” (Phil 4:6). This is YOU speaking up for your needs. God instructs us to know and present our needs to Him.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). God’s peace is greater than human-met need. Peace of mind involves trusting God with your needs, rather than putting those expectations on others.
“And my God shall supply all of your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19, NAS). God promises He will supply all of your needs according to all of the riches of Jesus Christ, your Savior, intercessor, judge, and High Priest!
Your needs are important to God. He sees you. He also doesn’t intend for you to be depleted, exhausted, trampled, disrespected, or at the worst, abused. Recognizing your needs, naming your needs, and meeting your needs through self care, boundaries, or by changing what’s hurtful or harmful is taking care of your emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health.
You are a whole person, and God loves you.
Father, help each person reading to see her needs and bring those to you. Help her to speak up to you and receive your peace that transcends all human understanding. Equip her with practical ways to meet her needs, speaking up to others or setting boundaries where needed. Holy Spirit, prompt her to trust the Father with her needs. Amen.
Practical tools for needs:
For younger moms….Balance, Busyness and Not Doing It All.
For moms in the midst of raising and releasing kids….Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind
For all women, men, or any human….Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud
For women in toxic marriages….The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick
For women in many situations….any of Leslie Vernick’s other books.
I receive no compensation for referring books not my own. These are resources I use in counseling and coaching and effective in many ways.
I had not realized how pervasive the expectation of women “do it all” had been throughout my childhood until I began singing the Enjoli commercial in my head when I read about it. Not only do I remember all the words and the tune, but I can see the commercial in my head. I can tell you that this was definitely the ideal that was modeled for me; it was the woman I strived to be for far too many years.
You’re not the only one, Susan. I think many of us still keep this belief in our head, that we can do it all. It’s not what God desires! Thank you so much for sharing!
That commercial does give false hopes, expectations, dreams, hopes, and disappointments. It is overwhelming also. I had forgotten about that commercial.
Yes, I still remember the tune and the message!