By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
All people want to experience a sense of belonging and feeling wanted. So, everyone can relate to the fear of rejection to at least some degree. This fear becomes a serious problem when it keeps you from paying attention to, and asserting, your own needs in your relationship. The result is that your relationship will not, and cannot, make you feel safe, secure, and happy.
The best way to begin to get your needs met is by being honest with yourself about your thoughts and feelings. To accomplish this, do the following:
Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. People often go through their day in a kind of haze so that they don’t reflect upon their experiences. They don’t fully realize (or suppress) that they are having particular feelings and thoughts. To find greater happiness in yourself and your relationship, it is essential that you begin by gaining greater self-awareness.
Practice seeing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Rather than addressing how their partner does not meet their needs in their relationship, many people admonish themselves for their thoughts and feelings. While not all your thoughts are accurate and not all your feelings seem to match a given situation, they are all your experience. This makes them real and deserving of respectful attention. When you recognize that you are being self-critical, choose to try to understand yourself instead. By understanding the basis of your thoughts and feelings, you will be much more likely to have self-compassion. That is, your focus will shift from being self-critical to wanting yourself to find peace and happiness. If you have trouble with this, consider how you might be compassionate to a friend in a similar situation.
Be clear within yourself about what your relationship wants and needs are. This may require some thought. What do you really want from your partner? Consider what you want in the present and the future; as well as gaining clarity about what is a preference in your relationship and what is essential. Then, of course, it’s important to talk with your partner about this.
To help motivate yourself to do this work, consider what will happen if you aren’t honest. How will you feel if your needs are not met? How will this likely affect your relationship? If you relate well to this topic, you might even be able to see how denying your needs is currently affecting you and your relationship in negative ways. Compare these reflections about how denying your thoughts, feelings, and needs are affecting (or might affect) your relationship with what you want your relationship to be like.
If you want a truly secure and long-lasting relationship, self-awareness and honesty are key. There’s no question that it is often very difficult to attend to, and be honest about, your thoughts, feelings, and needs. However, your courage in standing ‘nakedly’ before yourself and your partner will be repaid with the opportunity to create the happy future you seek.
The Art of Relationships blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.