1. Discover your functional relationship needs in all areas of your life.
2. Prioritize needs and define your bottom line.
3. Give your needs to others. Find out their needs of you.
4. Negotiate needs and set consequences.
5. Create the three Rs in relationships: rules, roles, rituals.
6. Expand your network of lasting, strong, and supportive friendships.
What do you want or need in a relationship? Unconsciously—at that level we all search for Dad or Mom substitutes—most people have a pretty clear idea.
At another level, they usually don’t have a clue. Their first answers usually involve generalities or clichés. They want their lovers to “be good looking and kind, have a sense of humor, and respect me.” They want their friends to “be there for me and share my interests.” People tend to be even more vague about what they would want from bosses or work associates.
Why do so many of us have trouble formulating what we need from others?
Here’s a clue. As a young child, were you ever asked your opinion about anything, particularly important family decisions? Did anyone ask you what you wanted in those situations? We often ask Uplift participants these questions and out of about a hundred people, we rarely see more than five raised hands.
At first, most of us have difficulty figuring out what we really need from others because no one in those crucial early years asked us what we wanted or required.
Probably our parents themselves didn’t know what they needed from each other.
As a result, our brains never formed the neural connections around “What do I really need from the people around me?” But this is exactly what you need to do if you are to recover from depression.
One client of Alicia’s had an even greater impediment to just thinking about his needs. “My mother used to ask me what I wanted and no matter what I answered I’d get something else,” he said. “If I said I wanted potatoes for dinner, I got rice.
If I asked for a skateboard for Christmas, I got school clothes. I learned never to let anyone know what I really wanted, and after a while I stopped asking the question even to myself.”
Being unable to express our needs doesn’t mean that some of us don’t cajole, manipulate, or outright control others. It just may not occur to us that it’s OK to simply ask for what we want.
Many unconsciously select relationships on the basis of dysfunctional needs because we learned to do so in childhood. For example, Marty’s dysfunctional need to be controlled, criticized, and yelled at was set up in her original family and later met by her husband. Since as a child her only importance came from looking after others, she continued this pattern by caring for her patients and in-laws at the expense of her own health.
To help you clarify your functional needs (and stop being controlled by your dysfunctional ones), we’ve identified some very specific categories and criteria. Following these will make the process simple and foolproof.
Source Credits: Creating Optimism: A Proven, 7-Step Program for Overcoming Depression, Based on the popular Uplift program, written by Bob Murray Ph. D., and Alicia Fortinberry, published by Mcgraw-Hill