Continuing with the previous practice, think of a situation, perhaps with a person where there is some kind of tension between your needs and their needs. I would be very happy for you if you can’t think of anything, but I’m sure there is something in your life where there is a tension between your needs and another person’s needs. If you can’t think of anything, just make something up or recall something that happened in the past.
Now take a little time thinking about what it is that you need in this situation. What is it you would like to feel? If there is a tension, a disagreement or a misunderstanding, what is it you would like to feel in this situation? How would you like to feel? What is the need you have?
When you identify a need, it doesn’t have to be a big deal, it could be as simple as “I need to feel respected.” What would that mean? What would that look like? “I’m always the first one to do the dishes and I’d like another person to do the dishes, or at least alternate with me, then I would feel respected.”
If you like, now you could put your hands out in front, like that gesture of “what do they need” and just think about the other person for a bit. I wonder what they need? We’re not trying to figure it out and get the right answer, we’re just wondering, and there is uncertainty, we may not know at the end of the exercise. That isn’t the point of the exercise, we’re just opening. “I wonder what they might need?”
We’re trying to think of what they need, we don’t know, we can ask them, it might even help us if we want to ask them.
Then we come back to ourselves, to our heart. This is alternating, coming back to ourselves and saying “What do I need in this particular dynamic?” We’ve already said this but now that we’ve wondered about them, we just come back and feel ourselves again, feel the contrast.
Now, having done a little alternating, is there something you could say to this person? Maybe not, maybe you don’t want to talk to them, and that is okay. If you feel that, good, that is okay! If you feel that maybe there is something you could say to them, what would that be? You don’t have to say anything to them, you’re just pretending here. This is for you.
Often for me, what comes up at this moment is, if I’m honest, there is probably something I feel vulnerable about, like wanting to feel respected or cared for. I don’t know if they know how to do that or if they even want to, or if they even understand me and I’m afraid of saying it.
If there is fear of saying it, that is a powerful message. You might not be sure you want to be vulnerable with them. And that is okay. This is not mandating that you should be vulnerable. We’re not drawing any conclusions, this is just research.
So we’re alternating perspectives. It might be your habit to just go out and say “What do they need?” Then you’re chasing what they need but that doesn’t make them happy and at some point you’re running out of steam because you’re not taking care of yourself. If we only focus on what we need and say, “Well I need this. I don’t want to know what they need” it usually doesn’t go so well.
You might actually get in touch with something doing this. “I actually don’t feel safe to reach out to this person. I don’t want to talk to them. That is sad. I’m really sad about that. I haven’t let myself mourn. Maybe this is the end of that friendship for a while. Ouch. I wanted to fix it. But no, I don’t feel safe.”
On the other hand, it might be a much different situation. You might say “Oh my gosh. I could say something, it turns out it is really simple, it’s just a little scary to say.”
This is part of an ongoing series. Stay tuned for Part 7!
Maitri For Our Time Part 1
Maitri For Our Time Part 2
Maitri For Our Time Part 3
Maitri For Our Time Part 4
Maitri For Our Time Part 5
Maitri For Our Time Part 6
Maitri For Our Time Part 7
Maitri For Our Time Part 8
Maitri For Our Time Part 9
Maitri For Our Time Part 10