I remember watching Pink on MTVs “Diary” back in the early 2000s, and at every interstitial, she voiced-over “You think you know, but you have no idea…” Okay, aside from the hair bleaching and the hours of crunches that yielded those six-pack abs, it’s possible we have overlooked the personal fortitude it must have taken to stand up for your vision when LA Reid told you that he wanted you to be more “Britney.” I love Pink, but long before I organized a flash mob to “Raise Your Glass” at my wedding, this phrase stuck in my head.
In my mind, this phrase is not accompanied by the bravado with which it’s delivered in Diary. It’s delivered more as a question. Is it possible that what you think you know — about what you have to do to get where you want to be — might not be the only option?
This is the essential signifier of a “strategy.”
Strategies are awesome. Without them, action would be less reasoned and more impulsive. But, questioning our strategies is essential, especially if we haven’t adequately examined our needs first.
How do needs relate to strategies?
It’s essential to take a moment, or ten, or 10,080 (that’s the number of minutes in a week!) to think about what you need when you find yourself embedded in discomfort. If you don’t think about what you need BEFORE you make a move (i.e. Deploy your “strategy”) you will end up acting based on inadequate information.
If you’re action-oriented, like me, you run the risk of impulsively springing into action. (Self-flagellation alert: Don’t beat yourself up. You’re motivated! You’re not going to stand around and complain! You’re inspired to take your life by the wrinkled peaches and change what you need to change! Tweet it!) The next time you find yourself confronted by something that raises your hackles, I’m asking you to do this:
Take a minute, or ten, or 10,080 to just breathe. Name the sensations that are coming up. Place them in your body. Worry. In my furrowed brow. Anxiety. In my chest.
Dip into the sensations and ask yourself what you need on a base level. Which unmet needs are associated with this discomfort? Example: Anxiety associated with not knowing where you stand in a relationship? The need: perhaps you need clarity. You need open communication. (A note about needs: Your needs are just that, they don’t involve someone else doing something, or changing in some way to fulfill your need. They may involve you asking for something…and then someone else needing to work with you to fulfill the need, but should not include blame or reliance on someone else)
After you’ve identified what you need, only then is it advisable to roll into action. Example: If you realize that your anxiety isn’t related to your boyfriends request to move in together, but rather your need to know where the relationship is going, you can act from a more powerful, genuine place. You can address the root of the anxiety by requesting a conversation because you’ve recognized that you need to be able to communicate open and honestly.
Have you ever ignored your needs and gone straight to action? What were the consequences? What do you want to do differently next time?