You might be here if you consider yourself traumatized. You might be here if you love someone that considers themselves traumatized.
The short answer is that this blog is for everyone. If one finds themselves reading this, I; the author, can assume that they have come here (to the beginning) to find out more. In lieu of posting content at this point I should enjoy to orient myself and hope it provides insight for the reader.
Learning the world is hard. At some point we realize that even if our experiences and rationale surrounding those experiences have prepared us fairly well for engaging a social world of others… perhaps we aren’t always as effective as we would like to be.
I have a fairly specific method for engaging the world, it is that I try to engage most of the people I meet with a degree of understanding that they might be operating with a history of trauma and space to accommodate if necessary. In my time I have found that when my hypothesis is correct and something is deeply wrong for someone… the benefit of holding space for them and being available for some kind of support can be dearly beneficial.
I also find that people without trauma tend to get offended. People with trauma also get offended sometimes as well. Lets generalize this. Some people in the world react to the idea that they might have trauma aggressively, as if to say “how dare you even consider that!”, as if to say that it is offensive to be considered traumatized.
Human beings organize ourselves like hens in battery cages. We willingly operate under systems that we regularly complain degrade us; school, employment, family life, all these things at their worst can be a sluice of unrealistic expectations, unfair encounters and a fountain overflowing with disrespect.
Is it any wonder that we peck at each other?
Most of us are raised to think that however we grew up is the status quo, and most of us understand and acknowledge that this is not the case by a certain point in our lives. Some call this adulthood. But when do we really investigate the assumptions that were made based on those beliefs that we carry into our lives.
The idea that ANYONE who loves their child can afford some baby asprin from the store if their child has a fever. Surely they’re just lazy and want to save money by wasting resources by going to the emergency room.
The idea that certainly the child who pushed yours couldn’t be melting down because they are hungry as they weren’t fed any kind of food before attending school. Surely they’re just a horrible child.
The examples I have used include children and finances and inequality. Partially because I know these are hard hitting subjects but also because these are the examples my mother used to explain inequality and the idea that other people’s lived realities are different than mine.
As far as I can tell there are a few different ways to engage the world when our needs and wants come up against the needs and wants of others.
- Aggression: from “My needs or wants will not be met unless I fight for them to be met and if I don’t fight to defend them perhaps they will be denigrated too.” to “My needs or wants never get accepted at first but all I have to do is push hard enough and they will be met.” Aggression is a seemingly effective way of dealing with conflicts. Here are some things that I count as aggression.
– Pushing when someone is clearly* uncomfortable or wishes to stop. Not accepting no for an answer. Obviously these twits don’t know how it works here.
– Demanding someone explain their refusal or stance as to why their needs/wants are clashing with yours. Guess what. You might not deserve one if you’re acting like this. Because the next point often follows this one.
– Denigrating their reasons provided in an explanation of why their needs/wants are clashing with yours. Yeah. That’s violent.If you get what you want this way you are damaging your relationship with the people you do it to each time you do this.
– Punishing. So you didn’t get what you wanted/needed. Know what the best way to communicate your displeasure is?! Slam a bunch of doors/drawers and make angry sighs and grumbling. There’s no better way to make people regret standing up for themselves against the people they love than creating an atmosphere of enraged noise for them to deal with after the fact.
– Martyrdom. Is a pretty aggressive response to not having your needs met. Only this is aggressive to your Self. Self-destructive behaviour is not an appropriate response to not having your needs/wants met. It can be horrible to feel like someone doesn’t or no one cares about you, and so why should you care for yourself? The reality is that your care for yourself isn’t meant to be predicated on how much someone else cares for you.
– Aggression is a pretty natural response, especially when you feel personally attacked. The sad sad truth is that other people’s actions towards you AND their reaction to you is more about them than it is about you in many many many many cases. The most aggressive people I have known figured that any time they were offended someone did it on purpose.
- Negotiation: When your needs/wants come into conflict with the needs/wants of others, it becomes important to suss out where the needs are for each person in the situation and where the wants are. My formula for dealing with these scenarios values needs over wants in most cases. Unfulfilled wants can become needs through consistently being put onto the back burner. Sometimes there are no wants in a situation. Only conflicting needs.
– It is important to clarify that questions in negotiation are very different than questions in aggressively demanding someone explain their standpoint. That’s not negotiation. Questions in negotiation are ideally formed out of a desire to understand.
– Understanding why someone needs something can often help you feel better about taking a wait on your own wants or needs.
– Sussing out what your own wants/needs are in a situation lets you communicate whether or not you need to readdress this situation in the future. Letting people know that you are only putting something on a back burner because it is important to them A) define a time that you would like to readdress the situation, B) frees you from worrying about when your needs/wants will be fulfilled, and C) allows the person you are dealing with time and preparation to address the scenario in a way that is more flexible next time.
– Negotiation is a great tool. Use it.
- Non-Resistance: This is not a word beyond the realm of this blog. Non-resistance can be described as resistance that does not look or act like resistance. Resistance that tells you it is not resistance. I view it as a kind of aggression but that’s my personal demons talking. Non-resistance will often come from someone that is highly emotionally literate but for whatever reason is just not going to be dealing with this. But they can’t figure out a way to tell you to go deal with your own needs/wants on your own without feeling bad, looking bad or actually being a more callous person than they consider themselves.
– Non-resistance is designed to look reasonable. Comes from a moral high ground and can be very damaging.
– The strange thing is that non-resistance can be a reasonable response. Sometimes you actually have to push people to solve their own problems and believe me when I assure you. Some people want others to solve their problems SO BADLY that they have become extremely good at getting people to solve their problems. In cases like this, negotiation to help them understand how you solving their problem isn’t helpful to them in the long run and is possibly going to damage you in the process.
- Capitulation: from “I will be injured worse if I stand up for myself.” to “No one will listen to me anyway.” Capitulation is a seemingly effective way to avoid harm and conserve energy. Sadly you aren’t giving anyone a chance to respect your needs/wants.
– But … what about that aggression thing just mentioned? Well. Capitulation is not the right way to deal with that.
– Giving in without actually advocating for yourself clearly and effectively is the best way to resentments.
– Capitulation is totally an option though. There are lots of reasons to capitulate quickly to someone else’s needs/wants even if it is mildly inconvenient or generally a pain. The context of the situations you are in will tell you whether capitulation is a good plan for you. The main thing we’re looking for in Capitulation is that it does not become your pattern.
* Clearly. A sub note on the term “clearly”. What a reifying, mystifying term that ironically muddies the intention of the words it interjects itself between. How does one know that someone ‘clearly’ wants to stop engaging a subject? When they tell you directly in clear terms. Body language doesn’t count. Avoidance doesn’t count. Skirting around the subject doesn’t count. Interpretive dance doesn’t count.
People aren’t psychic. If it isn’t fair when someone expects you to do it. (And it is not). Its not fair to expect someone else to do it for you.
What then is a Need versus a Want?
We need love and support as humans. Sometimes we want it to come a certain way.
We need food. We might want pizza.
Sometimes we need things in order to do other things. So if I were going to be performing as a stilter every weekend and exuding my considerable social energy, I would probably need every morning to myself quietly without any one bothering me. Because I’m quite good at what I do but I do find performance to be quite draining.
Perhaps if I had a child that needed to have me get them ready for school as well as a partner that needed to get ready for work in the morning and couldn’t take on the responsibility I felt I needed to delegate… I might find a different way to fulfill my need for quiet recharge time. I might not go to any social events during months where I am performing every weekend. Or I might cut back my performance in order to meet my need to not be completely drained all the time.
Needs and wants are very ephemeral. And often fluctuate based around other people’s needs. People are scary with their needs and wants because they are complex. And often, in the society that we operate in, our wants are easily met…. while our needs are frequently ignored.
For myself: I am a lot happier when I am looking for reasons why someone needed to do what they did that inconvenienced, hurt or vexed me rather than making up reasons why they wanted to do something that inconvenienced, hurt or vexed me. I’m a lot more understanding when I tell myself that the person who cut me off on the highway was rushing to the hospital and that the mother who snapped at her kid in the line in front of me looked haggard and perhaps she was dealing with just way too much and isn’t like that all the time.
I trained myself to do this very intentionally. I believe strongly that whatever people do at any given time… they figure they have no other option. Whether or not they have purposely blinded themselves to other options or those other options are drastically more unpleasant than the one they have chosen… this doesn’t mean it is ok. But it makes it a lot more understandable for me.
The next blog post will be about healthy boundaries and how to communicate them because I think that flows quite logically from a minor rant on how to deal with conflicts in wants/needs. And hopefully I will have written myself an outline about it before I just start spewing text on page.