Shifting from blame to action to overcome neediness (examples from relationship coaching).
To improve any situation, including neediness, we must see what we can do to improve it (even when someone else is causing the problem). We must go beyond gut reactions to something that can bring about change. Here is an example identification of a need and place to start working. (The words in bold are a result of help from a relationship coach):
- “I am bored.” (feeling)
- Because, “My lousy job doesn’t pay enough money”. (blame)
- And, I don’t know how “to get more money.” (need related to a skill deficit)
- And, I don’t know how “to have fun without more money.” (need related to a skill deficit)
The client could have come up with different things he doesn’t know how to do (e.g., get a raise, look for a different job, get more job skills, start his own business, etc.). Each one is a possible solution to his problem. As a coach, it’s my goal to help the client work on the “how to’s”. Because once he can get past the blame, he still needs the skills. We have to learn before we can do.
Another example of a woman with a jealous and controlling husband.
- “I can’t do anything or go anywhere without getting the third degree afterward.” (current situation)
- Because, “My husband is jealous and paranoid.” (blame)
- And, I don’t know how “to do what I want without getting the third degree.” (need identification and skills deficit for handling interrogation)
- And, I don’t know how, “to deal with my husband when he’s upset.” (need identification and skills deficit for verbal attacks)
- And, I don’t know how, “to get out of this situation.” (need identification and skills deficit for boundary setting).
Repeatedly thinking about her situation and blaming has been making her angry and frustrated all the time without improving her situation. Working together, we were able to identify her needs and the kind of skills that would help her to meet them. For this woman, I recommended she work on learning how to manage her husband when he is upset first, followed by learning how to stop an interrogation without causing more conflict. Then, learning how to set and keep boundaries would allow her to stop her husband’s behavior.
Example of a non-communicative partner.
(This example represents many of my clients)
- “I feel lonely and angry.” (feeling)
- Because, “my partner won’t talk to me. He/she just wants to (work, play video games, gamble, have sex, look at pornography, drink, shop, etc.).”
- And I don’t know how to, “make him/her talk.” (possible social need and communication skill deficit)
- And “I don’t have anyone else to talk to.” (need and social skill deficit)
- And, “he/she only talks to me when he/she wants something.” (boundary skills deficit)
- And, I don’t know how, “to get him/her to talk without giving him/her what he/she wants.” (codependency).
Basically, this person needs someone to talk to, and in fact needs to have several people to talk to, including his/her partner. Currently, she is making it easy for her partner to have her at his convenience. This takes away any motivation he would have to change. She does this because he will give her a little attention at that time. Although she figures that something (a little attention) is better than nothing, she becomes resentful because she is giving much more than she is receiving.