The Two Things We All Need
It's not bread and cheese
The Two Things We All Need
There are two things that all of us, every single human on earth, needs.
Remembering these two needs can save hours of arguments, conflict, anger and resentment.
It can help us avoid heartache and, in some cases, preserve meaningful relationships.
These two basic human needs are what allow us to connect with each other, through empathy, understanding, and basic validation of our… humanness.
We all need:
1) To Feel Loved
Surprised? I bet not.
We all need love. Not just the mandatory “I love you” goodbyes and sign-offs.
I’m talking about the real, unconditional kind.
While this basic need applies to all of us, we don’t all necessarily (give and) receive it in the same way.
By this point, you may be familiar with the 5 Love Languages. And if you’re not, it’s a very helpful tool to better understand the most common, well-researched ways that we humans naturally give and receive love.
Surely a great start. But knowing is one thing, taking action is another.
Take a moment to consider an example of a time when you felt truly loved.
Perhaps a time you felt truly needed, worthy, and/or valued…
…or simply felt unconditionally loved by someone else, romantically, platonically, or otherwise.
It’s important to first recognize what leads to that feeling, so you can fully appreciate it when you feel it.
Was it the way the spoke to me? A certain acknowledgment of who I am? Saying the words “I love you, man”?
Or perhaps it was an act of service - like throwing me a surprise birthday party – or spending quality time by getting us tickets to see of on our favorite bands.
Now, you might think - well that’s great, but what am I supposed to do now, embarrass myself and demand that my friends shower me with gifts or spend hours of quality time with me at my beck-and-call?
Well… probably not. That may seem a just a tad self-centered.
A more humbling approach may be to show others the same love that you’re looking for. Not in an “eye-for-an-eye” way, but more so a leading-by-example way.
Let someone know you care about them out of the blue, or especially if you can sense they are struggling with something
Find creative ways to express love in your friendships, through unique gifts or acts of service
Be yourself around the people you love – you’d be surprised at just how refreshing that can feel for both
Help a friend in need, even if they don’t ask for it; perhaps something simple, like picking them up from the airport after a trip
Lend an ear to a friend going through a rough spot in a relationship
If there’s significant trust in the relationship, like with a romantic partner or close friend, share more directly what you love about that person and why
When in doubt, just remember what it feels like to be loved, be genuine, and put in the effort. We could all use a little extra care from time to time.
2) To Feel Understood
Beyond just feeling loved, we humans have a deep need to feel understood.
Like that feeling when someone just gets us.
Feeling understood may look very different for different people and their embodied personalities.
For an introvert, for example, feeling understood may look like someone taking the time to get to know them and taking an interest in their pursuits.
For the stressed-out parent, it may look like getting together with other busy parents once a month to let loose and simply vent about what it’s like to be… you guessed it… a busy parent.
Sometimes a transaction can even provide that feeling of validation.
An artist might feel understood if someone purchases a piece that they put hours of thought and work into, knowing that someone out there is willing to invest their own money in their vision.
There are several things we can do to help others feel understood. I would argue, though, it all starts with empathy and validation.
Prioritize active listening – simply put, listening with the genuine intent of understanding
Example: Take time to sit with someone who is expressing a frustration or challenge, and ask questions to better understand the problem before offering solutions
See if you can empathize – that is, put yourself in their shoes and experience the emotions they might be feeling
Validate (or normalize) their experience, first and foremost. Let them know you understand why they might feel the way they do.
Relate to a common experience you may have had. Sometimes a simple and sincere “That sounds super frustrating” can go a long way.
Work towards harmony - how can you find ways to connect and align, even if there are aspects of the conflict you don’t agree on
It’s important to remember that understanding is a two-way street. The more you open up to others, the more likely they are to open up to you.
Vulnerability is the key to unlocking that trust, understanding, and building a strong relationship with someone you care about.
For some, empathizing, validating, all this “feelings stuff” may be far outside of your comfort zone. You may have a tendency to think rationally and want to solve the problem – often disregarding the emotions behind the problem.
If so, it’s ok to own it, and do your best.
Let’s say you are dealing with a difficult relationship at work. If you went to a friend and poured your heart out, which response would be more validating?
“Why don’t you just confront your boss about how they mistreated you?”
“I’m not so great with empathy, but maybe you can tell me a little more about why you’re feeling this way.”
One other strategy that can be really helpful is to find a model or mentor to help you improve your tactical empathy if natural empathy is not your strength.
Remember that when the focus is on the person and the relationship, mistakes are largely forgiven if it’s clear your heart and intentions are pure.
Make the effort to try to understand and see how that opens up the possibility for (stronger) connection.
We’ve got BIG news coming next week…
Here’s a little teaser:
If you’re looking for more structure, accountability, and support in defining and aligning your values for a more fulfilling life, we’ve got an incredible opportunity coming your way… 😉🙌
Did you catch last week’s post? Feel free to send me Your Ideal Mix for some feedback!
🥯 Bagel 🥯