trouble naming needs/wants affecting trust in my relationship

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bikesandplants

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trouble naming needs/wants affecting trust in my relationship
« on: August 02, 2020, 11:50:15 PM »
Hi :)

I'm wondering if anyone here has had a similar experience and would have any advice to share.

I really struggle with naming wants and needs. I let things build up a lot before realizing I have a need, and by that time what was a small need gets blown up into proportion and I have these emotional explosions of needs. My partner on the other hand is really good at knowing how they're feeling on the spot and communicating needs and boundaries clearly.

This dynamic has affected the relationship in different ways. My partner has a hard time trusting me right now with what I say because of realizing later on that I had a need or that something didn't feel good to me even though I said it was fine. I also have a hard time feeling good in the relationship for long periods because it's hard for me to feel like I have agency and to participate in creating the relationship I want.

Anyone has advice on rebuilding trust in these circumstances? Or tricks to name needs and wants when it's something that feels really difficult?

Thanks!

Sab

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rainydiary

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Re: trouble naming needs/wants affecting trust in my relationship
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2020, 03:03:38 AM »
Yes, I have a difficult time with this too and experience a similar dynamic with my partner.

I sometimes find word lists helpful as I am a really language based person.  Some of the lists on this site https://www.cnvc.org/training/resource/book-chapter-1 are helpful to me.  I like that this one lists feelings as well as needs.  Sometimes I like feelings wheels like this one https://cdn.gottman.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/The-Gottman-Institute_The-Feeling-Wheel.pdf.  A challenge I do face is that even with these word lists, I tend to gravitate toward the same words over and over.  I donít always feel satisfied with the vocabulary and have found it helpful to consider if my feelings are too big, too small (which I donít usually realize) or distorted (because I am perhaps having an emotional flashback).

Thus, it has also helped me to use this site https://philome.la/jace_harr/you-feel-like-*-an-interactive-self-care-guide/play/index.html.  Honestly sometimes I feel like I go through the motions of answering the questions on this site and Iím not sure it always helps.  But what this site as well as doing yoga helped me learn a process I try to go through.  The first step for me has been to actually listen to myself.  For most of my life I have put the needs of others first and denied my own wants and needs to please others.  I am finding my way with this but it is still difficult and has been a very long journey.  Yoga has especially helped me because my body moves the way it does and I can express my own version of a pose or do something different because in that moment thatís what I need or want. 

The podcast Small Things Often has also been helpful to me.  It is a short podcast that gives relationship tips and often briefly describes things I am trying to do and learn.

I have had to really focus on actually listening to myself and then acting on it.  Right now I find this easier to do if I am by myself.  Sometimes through reading, writing, or experiences I have started to notice I have a feeling in my body.  I might then look at one of those lists or I might recognize ďI am having a big feelingĒ (instead of being specific, I realize that I am going to need to work to regulate myself).  This summer yoga or writing in a journal have helped me and I often find myself crying afterwards to heal some past time where I wasnít successful in being heard or wasnít able to process my feelings. 

I still have a harder time doing this with other people.  With practice it is starting to feel easier with my partner.  I started ďsmallĒ and now say (for example) what I want for dinner instead of just going along with what he wants.  Itís opened up more dialogue than we usually have had and has helped me say other truths that I might have kept to myself in the in the past.  I had to work really hard to stop trying to please him all of the time and focus on myself.  This is still a work in progress and I think we get caught up in unhealthy dynamics he also learned growing up, but honestly I have found that by actually listening and trying to identify my needs and then acting in them, it has taken a lot of pressure off of him and thus we have more ease in our conversations. 

I hope what I wrote makes sense or gives some starting points. 


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bikesandplants

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Re: trouble naming needs/wants affecting trust in my relationship
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2020, 10:55:09 PM »
Yes, I have a difficult time with this too and experience a similar dynamic with my partner.

I sometimes find word lists helpful as I am a really language based person.  Some of the lists on this site https://www.cnvc.org/training/resource/book-chapter-1 are helpful to me.  I like that this one lists feelings as well as needs.  Sometimes I like feelings wheels like this one https://cdn.gottman.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/The-Gottman-Institute_The-Feeling-Wheel.pdf.  A challenge I do face is that even with these word lists, I tend to gravitate toward the same words over and over.  I donít always feel satisfied with the vocabulary and have found it helpful to consider if my feelings are too big, too small (which I donít usually realize) or distorted (because I am perhaps having an emotional flashback).

Thus, it has also helped me to use this site https://philome.la/jace_harr/you-feel-like-*-an-interactive-self-care-guide/play/index.html.  Honestly sometimes I feel like I go through the motions of answering the questions on this site and Iím not sure it always helps.  But what this site as well as doing yoga helped me learn a process I try to go through.  The first step for me has been to actually listen to myself.  For most of my life I have put the needs of others first and denied my own wants and needs to please others.  I am finding my way with this but it is still difficult and has been a very long journey.  Yoga has especially helped me because my body moves the way it does and I can express my own version of a pose or do something different because in that moment thatís what I need or want. 

The podcast Small Things Often has also been helpful to me.  It is a short podcast that gives relationship tips and often briefly describes things I am trying to do and learn.

I have had to really focus on actually listening to myself and then acting on it.  Right now I find this easier to do if I am by myself.  Sometimes through reading, writing, or experiences I have started to notice I have a feeling in my body.  I might then look at one of those lists or I might recognize ďI am having a big feelingĒ (instead of being specific, I realize that I am going to need to work to regulate myself).  This summer yoga or writing in a journal have helped me and I often find myself crying afterwards to heal some past time where I wasnít successful in being heard or wasnít able to process my feelings. 

I still have a harder time doing this with other people.  With practice it is starting to feel easier with my partner.  I started ďsmallĒ and now say (for example) what I want for dinner instead of just going along with what he wants.  Itís opened up more dialogue than we usually have had and has helped me say other truths that I might have kept to myself in the in the past.  I had to work really hard to stop trying to please him all of the time and focus on myself.  This is still a work in progress and I think we get caught up in unhealthy dynamics he also learned growing up, but honestly I have found that by actually listening and trying to identify my needs and then acting in them, it has taken a lot of pressure off of him and thus we have more ease in our conversations. 

I hope what I wrote makes sense or gives some starting points.

Hey, thanks a lot for sharing that. I've developed similar tools (I have a print out feelings wheel and often take a look at NVC lists of needs and feelings). It made a lot of sense to me what you said about needing to find ways to connect to how you are feeling inside and how that's easier when you're alone. I'm glad to read that it's been easier for you and that you've seen a shift in being able to name your needs. I also have a tendency to want to please the people around me and say yes to things without really connecting to how I'm feeling about them. Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post and I'll definetely check out that podcast and website you mentionned. :)

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rainydiary

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Re: trouble naming needs/wants affecting trust in my relationship
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2020, 11:09:24 PM »
Thatís cool that we have found some similar tools!  One thing I have been learning about in my work is interoception.  It is a sense and it is the sense of our internal feelings that help us manage body needs (like hunger, thirst, bathroom, sleep) and emotions.  What I have learned about it is so far is in the context of teaching my students and havenít had any insights yet for myself.  I will be learning along with them as I think my awareness of my interoception is weak (although it has been getting better).   

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Persistant

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Re: trouble naming needs/wants affecting trust in my relationship
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2020, 05:13:40 PM »
Hi bikesandplants,

I think a lot of us are in a very similar position to you, I definitely empathise ! From my own experience I found that knowing what I feel, and think, the difficulty in trusting, diminished sense of self etc., all resulted from trauma. The faculties that enable feeling, trust etc were all frozen and I began to gently thaw them out. The tools recommended by rainydiary are great, good luck with them.

Another thing I found moving on from naming my feelings was asking myself why I feel this way. Doing that really helped to clarify the names of the feelings so it meant back peddling a bit and re-naming them but i'm comfortable with that. It really helped me to establish my own sense of agency and with it came more confidence and a reduction in the explosions of anger etc. I've still a long way to go but i'm getting there.

Good luck with whatever you decide, keep me posted, would be great to hear how you're doing.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 03:19:46 PM by Persistant »