This entry is the sixth in my series on the Agreements Workbook that I’m writing. [For the first entry in this series, click here]. Note that these entries are all rough drafts, and thus are probably missing things like references. If you know the perfect reference to add, feel free to suggest it! I always like to add to my resource collection. I’m updating these somewhere between 1 and 3 times per week, BTW.
Entry #6 continues the section on meeting needs through Agreements, and discusses how to discover your needs (and/or those of your partner/s) through list-making.
Please feel free to make comments or ask questions, either here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box.
Discovering Your Needs: Make a List
So, back to our list-making… now that I’ve clarified needs vs. strategies, you can start making your list. One common method, of course, is to “go with your gut.” Brainstorm! Just write down the first 5 to 10 words that come to mind (if you can’t stop there, that’s ok; you might just need to group them later, that’s all.)
If you need some prompting on what needs exist, you can go take a look at the “Needs Inventory” on the CNVC website. You might want to circle 5 to 10 needs from this list that you feel are your core needs. Don’t see what you want on that list? Feel free to add some [to your copy of the list]! As it says, this is meant as a jumping off point, not as a definitive list. Just make sure they’re needs and not strategies. (If you can’t tell if it’s a need or a strategy, try thinking of other ways to get it met. If there’s only one way, it’s probably a strategy, and you should search for the underlying need/s.)
If you have fewer than 3 you probably need to look again, this time with the idea of your whole life in mind. If you have more than 20, you might want to consider clumping them together into similar groups, and using the overarching group name. Once you have your list of needs, consider ranking them from most to least important (or least to most; it doesn’t matter, but make sure that whichever you use, your partner/s use the same one!).
After you’ve made your list of 5 to 10 needs (or categories of needs), you can use it in any number of ways. If you have a journal, you might want to date the list and put it in there, so you can see if your needs seem to change over time. You can use it as a starting point for your own list of boundaries, or agreements with yourself. You can compare your list with your partner/s list/s, and see where you overlap, and where you don’t. The more similar your lists are, the more easeful your relationship is likely to be. However, even if your lists contain all the same words, but in a different order, you may still experience stress. In his book Moral Politics[ref], George Lakoff points out that the Democratic and Republican parties have a list of values (closely related to needs) that are almost exactly the same… but in a different order. And we know how well they get along! So clearly it’s not just about which needs or values you have, but also about the priority you assign to each. Agreements are one way to bring these differing needs or priorities more into alignment. Even if you never end up writing any Agreements down, just the process of thinking about your individual needs, comparing your lists with your partner/s, and strategizing about ways to get them met, will often be a valuable process in itself.
[Next entry I’ll talk about Agreements, indirect vs. direct requests, and demands. I also offer up 4 guidelines for getting to YES.]
∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥
[© 2011 Dawn M. Davidson]
[Next Entry: Agreements & Requests: 4 Guidelines to Yes!]