Today I woke up and felt tired and emotionally needy. I don’t like to admit feeling needy. I’m not sure why. (Perhaps it has something to do with my “superwoman complex” — this belief that I can be completely independent, strong, confident, and poised at all times.) What I really wanted to do this morning was stay home from work and be told by all my loved ones how much they love me. Again, I feel uncomfortable saying that. Why should I need reassurance from anyone that I am loved? My inner critic chimes in with, “Haven’t you been told ENOUGH how much you’re loved? You just had expressions of love from partner, family, AND friends lavished upon you over Valentine’s Day weekend. Isn’t that enough?!” And, my inner critic is right. I should (and most times do) know that I am loved. But, whatever the reason (and perhaps the reason isn’t important), I woke up wanting that reassurance.
Because of my discomfort with expressing that need, I pushed it down and ignored it. I made vague hints and suggestions to others about my need, but didn’t just say, “I need a hug!” or “Tell me again why you love me.” I didn’t ask for reassurance from my co-workers either. I just didn’t want to admit that I felt that need, maybe because I didn’t understand it and didn’t want anyone to say, “Where is this coming from?”
Of course, it comes as no surprise that the desire to understand our feelings and needs was a common theme in my counseling sessions with clients today. (God always has a way of presenting me with opportunities to work through my own challenges.) So, as I sat across from client after client and talked about the importance of identifying feelings, directly communicating those feelings with “I statements”, and letting go of critical self-talk, I realized I could have been speaking to myself.
So, what was I feeling this morning that led me to seek the reassurance of love from others? Well, I felt a bit somber after my volunteer work yesterday with children who have chronic illnesses. I felt lethargic from not getting enough sleep last night. I felt guilty for not keeping up with important aspects of my self-care routine. I felt resentful about being unable to lean on my supervisor at work today. I felt disheartened by the news that my co-worker (the one who is my go-to when I need support) wasn’t working today. Wow. Just writing that out puts things in perspective. I can hear my gentle inner voice saying, “No wonder you wanted to stay home and be loved!” With that clarity, I can actually address my needs and feel less intimidated to express them to my loved ones.
I guess the “lesson” here is that just like “fat” is not a feeling (see my previous posts), “needy” is not a feeling either. Identifying the underlying feelings can lead to clarity and can help quiet that inner critic. I’m grateful I had the time this evening to figure this out. What will you do to identify your underlying feelings? If you need some help, just type “feeling words list” into any internet search engine and you’ll undoubtedly get a list of words that may help.
Peace, joy, and health,