The Most Important Question for Resilience

November 20, 2017



What do I need to feel better?


When it comes to building resilience, the most important habit you can develop is asking yourself this question when you notice you are feeling upset about something. It puts you in the driver’s seat and prevents you from slipping into victim-mode. This question also illuminates a key resiliency skill: identifying unmet needs and finding ways to get them met.


They key word in this question is need.


The extent to which our needs are met is directly proportional to our overall quality of life.


If our needs are being met, we feel empowered and happy. If our needs are not being met, we feel disempowered and negative. Each of us has a unique constellation of needs and we prioritize them differently at different times in our lives.


When we are young, we might need adventure and adrenaline. As we get older, we might need stability and social support. Some people prioritize their need for financial security, while others prioritize their need for creativity and spontaneity. There is no right or wrong, and we get to decide for ourselves which needs to prioritize in our own lives.


Yet, most people do not think about their needs this way. They have no idea what their personal hierarchy of needs is. And because they have failed to identify their needs, they cannot protect them, nurture them, or find ways to meet them. As a result, they cannot communicate in the language of needs.


Consider how this plays out in a romantic relationship. One person needs financial stability. The other needs adventure, travel, and excitement. Unless they speak the language of needs, they could easily find themselves at odds. The person who wants financial stability will likely argue that the other person is financially irresponsible. The person who wants adventure and travel will likely accuse the other of being boring and uptight.


However, when you learn to speak the language of needs, you realize that each person has a right to protect his or her needs and that usually it is possible to find creative ways for both people to get their needs met. In this case, for instance, the couple might decide to cap their savings at a level high enough to meet the need for financial stability but low enough to allow for some travel and adventure.


In this way, the language of needs eliminates much of the “right” and “wrong” from personal conflicts. Instead, creative resolutions emerge as people begin to say, “This is what I need. I also see what you need. How can we help each other get our needs met?”


What do you need to feel better?


Here’s another way to think about it: What need, if you could find a way to get it met, would improve your life the most?


Share in the comments box, if you feel inspired to do so.


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