The essential nature of our needs and boundaries
“If we lose people from having hard conversations, expressing needs and feelings, or having healthy boundaries, they weren’t fully there to begin with.” - Tory Eletto
I absolutely love this quote. A huge theme in people I work with, and people in general, is that we tend to shy away from owning and communicating our needs, our boundaries, our deal breakers, for fear of losing people. We are often more concerned with trying to keep people than we are about making sure that the people we are trying to keep are actually right for us in the first place. Being honest about what we need in a relationship might mean the severance of the relationship, and we tend to really not like the idea of that.
The problem is that in not owning our needs (the first step) and not communicating those needs (the second step), we do ourselves a great injustice. We betray what it is we really require in order to be the most grounded, happy, peaceful, light-shining version of ourselves. We also make it impossible for someone else to actually meet our needs, because we aren’t expressing them. In trying to keep the relationship (by not scaring the other person off with what we feel could be seen as demands), we usually end up miserable, and in a shadow of the relationship we truly seek.
While our needs remain unowned and unspoken, we are evasive, we (innocently) deceive, we come across in ways that aren’t true to who we really are. How can we not be? We are hiding important parts of ourselves for fear of loss of connection. The next stage, of course, is that we begin to resent the other for not meeting our needs, even though we haven’t communicated them. And then, we often get to the point where we explode in a “you always”/“you never” type of accusative conversation where we come across as nagging, demanding, or just angry. (As you might guess, people don’t tend to respond well to those kinds of needs outbursts.)
Owning our needs means taking some real time to reflect. Journaling, talking with a friend or coach, voice-noting into your phone - there are many ways to begin the process. It means getting clear on what we require from someone else, whether that’s a lover, colleague, parent, business partner, friend, employee, whatever, in order for you to BE the lover, colleague, son/daughter, etc that you really are at your core, that you really want to be.
Communicating those needs requires bravery, without a doubt. There is a risk of loss with this work, absolutely. It might become scarily, painfully apparent that the other person really can’t meet your needs. You can love someone unconditionally, but have conditions around being in a relationship with them. This can be painful, but ultimately life-enhancing, liberating and truly rewarding. And, as the original quote beautifully articulates, if you do lose someone through being true to yourself, they weren’t ever truly yours to begin with.