Depression Recovery: Expressing your Needs

Awareness of life’s ever changing situations and feelings can be helpful steps. Even more helpful is recognizing the need imbedded in the feeling. Being able to express needs can be especially beneficial when managing symptoms of depression.
Sheila is struggling with depressive symptoms. She feels overwhelmed, unworthy, indecisive, irritable. She is married and has 2 teenage sons. Although she uses words like overwhelmed or irritable, she suspects her family gets tired of hearing them and no one seems to feel very satisfied with the communication.

What is a need?

A need is a fundamental human longing. Here is the list of needs from a website called CNVC (Center for Non-Violent Communication).
The following list of needs is neither exhaustive nor definitive. It is meant as a starting place to support anyone who wishes to engage in a process of deepening self-discovery and to facilitate greater understanding and connection between people.

CONNECTION

acceptance  affection  
appreciation
  belonging  
cooperation  
communication  
closeness
  community 
 companionship 
compassion  
consideration 
 consistency  
empathy  
inclusion  
intimacy  
love
  mutuality  
nurturing 
 respect/self-respect continued 
safety
  security  
stability
  support  
to know and be known  
to see and be seen 
 to understand and
be understood  
trust
  warmth

PHYSICAL WELL-BEING

air
   food
   movement/exercise   
rest/sleep   
sexual expression   
safety   
shelter
   touch   
water

HONESTY

authenticity   
integrity
   presence

PLAY

joy   
humor

PEACE

beauty
   communion   
ease   
equality
   harmony   
inspiration  
order

AUTONOMY

choice
   freedom   
independence
   space
   spontaneity

MEANING

awareness
   celebration of life
   challenge
  clarity
  competence
  consciousness 
 contribution
  creativity 
 discovery  
efficacy 
effectiveness 
 growth 
 hope 
 learning  
mourning
  participation  
purpose 
 self-expression  
stimulation
  to matter  
understanding

(The contents of this page can be downloaded and copied by anyone so long as they credit CNVC as follows:
2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication
Website: www.cnvc.org Email: cnvc@cnvc.org
Phone: +1.505-244-4041)

 

As you can see these are needs that all humans share. Beginning to familiarize ourselves with these needs can have a great impact on our interactions with others.

Sheila is trying to make dinner as the family arrives home. In a few short minutes she is feeling scattered and overwhelmed. She is near tears. As she begins to share with her family she includes that she has a need for greater quiet and order. She and her family negotiate how to meet that need to everyone’s satisfaction.

Sheila is feeling irritable. She is afraid that she is going to lash out at her family. She shares with her husband that she needs some space to “reboot.”

Sheila and her husband are on their way home from a dinner party. Sheila is feeling tired and worthless. She believes she did not contribute to the conversation at the party. She shares this with her husband and notes that she is really needing some reassurance and acceptance.
Sheila’s awareness of what need she is experiencing helps her take better care of herself. Her more specific expression to those who love her gives greater clarity.

Further steps

1. Contemplate the list of needs. Which ones are generally met? Which ones are not?
2. Become familiar with the language of needs. When you are feeling particularly good or particularly bad, explore what need   is being met or is not being met. Ask yourself what is my need right now.
3.Explore the CNVC site. See how observations, feelings, needs and requests are connected.