The human need for belonging is strong.
In fact, you may be familiar with Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which clearly describes his theory on the importance of love and belonging to the human psyche. In 1943, Maslow first introduced his thoughts on human motivation and behavior. After physiological needs (i.e. what humans need to survive), and safety and security needs, the human need for love and belonging exists. When this need is not met, one cannot achieve higher levels of understanding such as self-esteem and self-actualization.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
We often seek the understanding of others. We seek to connect and belong. We build relationships and join groups. On the positive side, we may join clubs or sports teams. On the wrong end of things, we may join gangs or other destructive groups. The need is so strong, especially at childhood, that it sometimes over-rides “the need for safety and security as witnessed in children who cling to their abusive parents (sometimes called Stockholm Syndrome).” (Wikipedia)
As I coach more and more (and get coached more and more by others), I am discovering that the very basic need of ‘being understood’ is not being met. All too often, we do not feel heard by others. We either don’t have people in our lives to express ourselves to, or we have people in our lives that have not been trained to just listen, acknowledge and appreciate our experiences.
Do people get you? I mean, really understand where you’re coming from?
Do people feel understood by you? Are you a good listener?
Here’s an example with two possible responses. Let’s say you go up to a friend and say something like:
“I’m so frustrated. I have so much that I want to get done, not enough time, and yet I still catch myself wasting time on stupid stuff. Then I feel guilty for falling behind, which makes me more frustrated with myself.”
Response 1: “I totally understand. That happens to me all the time. Don’t get frustrated with yourself – that’s silly. Just make a list of everything you need to get done, carve out some time to do it, and try to shut off all technology so you can focus. You’ll be done in no time!”
Sounds like a good friend, no? Sure it does – all good intentions here. But how about this:
Response 2: “Wow, it sounds like you have a lot going on right now. It’s completely normal to be feeling overwhelmed when you’ve got so much you want to accomplish but just can’t seem to get it all done. Why do you think you procrastinate and waste time on less important things?”
Aha! I don’t know about you, but I would feel heard! Understood, even.
At the foundation of the 2nd response is a genuine respect for the other person. Not only are you validating and appreciating the way they feel, but you are honoring their ability to sort out their own problems. This is ultimately more impactful and long-lasting than trying to solve their problems for them.
People may not “get you” yet, but I think there are two things you can do to help yourself.
- Be a good listener to others and appreciate their need to feel heard and understood. You will soon find yourself being genuinely listened to more often. Remember, energy attracts like energy.
- Train your friends and loved ones to offer up the 2nd response above before giving advice or trying to solve your problems. If being heard and understood is not enough in a specific situation, you always have the option of asking for their advice and opinions.
From our end, we believe very strongly that you have in you what it takes to be successful and happy. If you ever feel that you need to be heard, email us for a complimentary coaching session!