Learning to Express Our Needs and Frustrations Differently – Part 2
We all have deep-rooted needs for safety, respect, order, comfort, rest, freedom, integrity, belonging…And when these needs aren’t satisfied, we go through different emotions. If you try this challenge, you will also have to find what’s at the center of your emotions and which need isn’t being fulfilled. The situation that seemingly pushes you to complain is only a revelation that a need isn’t being met. Take this opportunity to identify this deep-rooted need and to respond efficiently.
One very important thing taught by Marshall B. Rosenberg is that an emotion isn’t good or bad. It just is. There is no shame in being disgusted, overwhelmed, bothered, discouraged, embarrassed, horrified. It is essential however to take the time to name our frustration (see the detailed list of emotions and needs on p.179). The important thing, with this challenge, is our reaction when faced by frustration. We can either complain and accuse someone, or try to force others to do something, or take the matter into our own hands; express it healthily and move forward while respecting everyone. This challenge invites us to deeply realize that complaining will not help us to satisfy our need or suppress our frustration. It’ll actually feed your frustration.
Marshall B. Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of Nonviolent Communication, explains in his book Words are Windows, or They’re Walls that if we want to communicate without violence and be heard, we have to follow the four steps below:
- describe the situation that contributes or not to my well-being: “When I see the little bits of papers on the floor in the living room”. Note that when I describe, I talk about myself, about what I see, what I experience. I’m not talking about others and I don’t judge anyone. I’m not saying: “When you leave your mess on the floor”;
- express what you feel towards the situation: “I feel discouraged because I cleaned up the living room this morning.” Again, I’m speaking as “I” and not “you” and I stay away from judgment. I’m not saying “I feel like you’re laughing at me” or “You’re always making a mess, you never clean up your stuff”;
- express the needs that are the cause of your feelings: “I need a minimum of order in my home to function, to feel happy and available for my family”;
- clearly express a request (without expectation) of what could contribute to my well-being. Be specific in actions that could help the present situation (this step is often forgotten) and with positive language: “Could you sweep the floor before dinner?” (say when we’d like for it to be done increases the chance of it being done, because the individual will have a clear image of what’s expected).
And to this I’d like to add a last step, which is somewhat of a “negotiation”. Since our demand is not an order, the other person can very well answer “no”. So, we have to extend the process to come up with an agreement.
People around me know very well what I mean when I say that we have to come up with an agreement. They hear my assertiveness and the fact that I’ve taken on responsibility to fulfill my need. I tell them: “I won’t give up on my need, we have to find a solution”, and at the same time “I’m not going to force you, let’s be creative and come up with an agreement.” Sometimes, the individual can refuse my first demand, but suggest something else that they can do, such as “Mom, you sweep the floor and I’ll take care of setting the table.”
As you can see, this requires a bit of distance from our own frustration. We aren’t using brutality, or force. Here, to successfully not complain, we really have to learn to connect with our needs and our emotions in order to give them a name. We have to be able to tell ourselves “In the end, why do I want to complain, what’s bothering me?” And mostly, we can’t forget to enunciate our demand all the while accepting that it might be negotiated.
Once you try to put this into practice, you’ll quickly realize that what you’re complaining about is very rarely what’s actually making you complain! As a matter of fact, you’ll discover that what bothers you is rarely in front of you. The papers on the floor don’t really bother me. I could even pick them up myself, or leave all of it there. I could ignore my frustration and force myself to look through rose-colored glasses. But this would be to ignore what’s really bothering me, which is much deeper: the lack of collaboration in keeping the house clean and my need for order and cleanliness to function. If I can’t fulfill this need, there’s no way I can go on without complaining for 21 days!
If you are considering the challenge but are still hesitant, ask yourself these questions.
# What kind of message are you currently sending your kids, your husband or wife, your parents, brothers and sisters, your friends, your colleagues and everybody else around you? How much longer are you prepared to live surrounded by drama, conflict and misunderstanding?
# How much longer are you ready to complain about yourself?
# Are you satisfied with the life you are fostering? Are you happy every day, or suffering and complaining?
# Think about yesterday, or the past week, and decide if you are satisfied with the space occupied by complaints in your life.
Be conscious of the impact of your words on your own life as well as others’. Maybe before you could say you didn’t know better. But now that you do know, you know to what extent you complain and the power of decision is in your hand. It’s up to you.
Are you ready to join me for the on-going Global 21 Day Challenge to Quit Complaining ? Click here to join the Facebook event and invite your friends!
Love & Respect,
Want to you use this article in your newsletter, blog, or on your website? You can, as long as you include the following blurb:
“Christine Lewicki is committed to help people quit complaining and become entrepreneurs of their lives. You can download your FREE ”I Quit Complaining Starter Kit” on her blog www.iquitcomplaining.com
If you missed Part 1 of article click here !