Something I learnt quite quickly when I started out on my journey of self discovery was that I was actually pretty bad at communicating my needs and wishes.
I was great at ‘venting’ or ‘complaining’ about things that weren’t working for me; but I never got as far as asking for what I needed in order to make any situation better. I was unable to ask for support, or for whatever it was that I really wanted. I couldn’t tell people how any issue or situation was really effecting me deep down.
Miscommunication can lead to both parties developing feelings of resentment, confusion, anger, disappointment, unease and loneliness, to name but a few. And when you feel that someone is not clearly communicating TO you, you can begin to feel like you’re always having to second guess them, you wonder what it is that they actually want from you, what you have done wrong, you can start to feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells around them.
Before my own discovery, I regularly wondered why people weren’t ‘hearing’ me, why nothing was changing and why no-one seemed to be cooperating with me. But I understand now that is was often my problem, not theirs.
How could I expect someone to support me or meet my needs if they didn’t know what I wanted?
In my own case, being unable to clearly express my needs led to my subconscious taking control of the situation and creating ways to get them met.
This was often through illness or emotional outbursts. When I needed a break, I would usually find myself growing even more exhausted due to overworking, which then usually resulted in becoming ill. When I needed support of any kind, I would usually find myself becoming very emotional and tearful. When I needed help with something I found myself becoming helpless and victim-like (I now refer to this as damsel in distress disorder!) If I felt like something needed to change, I could find myself moaning and ruminating on the issue, getting sucked deeper in to a negative spiral, rather than actually doing something about it.
And when these subconscious strategies didn’t work in the way that I needed them to, I found my mental and physical well being deteriorating at an even more rapid pace. I eventually got to the point where I knew something had to give.
It has only been in taking a step back and honestly appraising myself and my behaviour that I’ve been able to spot these patterns.
I can now see how important it is to be able to communicate clearly, not just with others, but with yourself first and foremost.
I had to learn what it was that I needed in each situation. I had to learn how to communicate with myself. I needed to start listening to what my body and mind was telling me. I had to learn to listen carefully for the quiet whispers of what I truly wanted. The more I listened, the more I heard and the easier it has become over time.
Being able to tune into myself was the first step in getting my needs met in an effective way, without having to subconsciously create a fuss.
I discovered that sometimes I just need some time alone. Sometimes, I don’t want to go out of my way for other people. Sometimes, I do things just to please everyone else. Sometimes, I think it’s my job to solve the world’s problems single-handedly. Sometimes, I need a break. Sometimes, I can’t do it all. Sometimes, I need help. Sometimes, other people can do it better than me.
Once I had uncovered these issues, I could begin to accept that sometimes, I need to ask for space. Sometimes, I need to say no to others. Sometimes, I need to put myself first. Sometimes, I need reminding that I don’t have to make everything okay for others. Sometimes, I need to give myself a break. Sometimes, I don’t have to do it all. Sometimes, I can ask for help. Sometimes, I can let others do it instead.
Knowing more about myself meant that I could begin to practise clearly communicating my needs in order to get them met.
Instead of simply moaning about how tired I was to my partner (in the hope that he would feel sorry for me and do the dishes/hoovering/cooking), I could clearly state that I was tired and I that I’d really appreciate it if he could do the chores today.
It sounds so simple, right? Well, it is, with practise. When we’ve spent our whole lives trying to get our needs met covertly, it takes a little work to get it all out in the open. But when you get to the point of clear communication, it is so freeing. You feel lighter when you’re not carrying around bundles of unmet needs.
So, first thing’s first- Get conscious about what it is that you want, what you need, what you expect from others. Ask yourself if you can fulfil this need yourself, or do you need to ask something of someone else in order to get it met.
Then learn to express yourself openly and without ambiguity- make your request as direct and clear as possible so that there is no room for misinterpretation by others. Remember- most of us aren’t mind readers, unless you let someone know what’s troubling you, what you need help with, what you want, you can’t expect the issue to be resolved.
So I’m here to tell you, in case you need to hear it right now: it’s okay to need help; it’s okay to ask for support; it’s okay to express your needs; it’s okay to let someone know when or where there is a problem. It doesn’t make you weak, or selfish.
It makes you self-aware. It makes you human.
I’d love to hear your own experiences of miscommunication, as well as your communication triumphs… Leave a comment, contact me via email or message me directly with any thoughts, feedback or questions about this post.
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