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One response to trauma that is rarely considered is our unwillingness to ask for what we need and want. Honoring our needs and wants and being willing to reach for them is often abandoned when we have experienced trauma. In addition, we can get so caught up in trying to meet everyone else’s needs that we do not have the time or energy to address our own. We need to remember that our needs and desires are equally valid and deserve to be met.

Asking For Our Needs and Wants Is Critical

Mental health is a real need and impacts all of who we are, not just how we feel emotionally but also how we feel physically and socially. When we forego asking for what we need and want, our mental health can be negatively impacted to such a degree that we may relapse into drinking, using drugs, or engaging in other unhealthy behaviors. Failure to address our wants and needs could also cause us to have serious struggles with our mental health diagnoses.

Often, we are willing to meet the needs and wants of others, but we do not give voice to our own as we do not want to be seen as needy or incapable. Our trauma already made us victims, but asking for what we need can help us overcome the effects of past traumatic experiences. We deserve the same respect we give others.

We All Have Needs

Everyone has needs; this truth is universally acknowledged. Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to illustrate the basics of how we move from basic survival needs to what Maslow termed self-actualization. 

Some people feel that achieving self-actualization is a want, but, according to Maslow and many others in psychology, self-actualization is a need. We will never achieve becoming our best selves unless we accept that we are deserving of our wants and needs, including our desire for self-fulfillment.  

Basic Needs

Basic needs are what we need to get by and survive. We need food, water, housing, and rest. But, we also need safety and security, not only in terms of living arrangements but also financially. When our basic needs are met, we can better assess our other needs.

Psychological Needs

Our psychological needs are just as critical as our basic needs. We cannot expect to survive, let alone thrive, if we do not address our psychological needs. While our basic needs are critical to our physical selves, our psychological needs are essential for our growth and self-acceptance.

We deserve love and appreciation from others, but if we have experienced trauma in our past, we may fear that we are not worthy of love or friendship. Trauma can cause us to isolate ourselves in many ways. We deserve to feel connected to others and know that we are worthy of that connectedness. We should not have to suffer alone; the more we push against the trauma and ask for what we need, the more we will be able to fill our psychological needs.

Self-Actualization Needs

Self-actualization, according to Maslow, is the pinnacle of human experience; it is also a need. We should not deny ourselves the fulfillment of achieving our goals simply because we feel like reaching for them is only a want. Unfortunately, we may view self-actualization as a want and something that should be addressed only when everything else (family, bills, house, etc.) is managed. 

Do not put off this essential need. Self-fulfillment is an important aspect of who we are, and asking for the time and freedom to achieve our goals is not selfish; it is necessary. Self-fulfillment is the most integral part of ourselves, and healing, complete healing, requires us to ask for the opportunity to fill this need.

It’s Normal (And Healthy) to Have Needs and Wants

Having needs and wants does not make us a burden; it makes us human. Our needs and wants are critical to our growth and survival as human beings. We deserve to have them met. When we look at our friends and family, we need to recognize how willing we are to help them obtain their needs and wants. Now, we must ask a critical question: Why are we unwilling to help ourselves meet our needs and wants?

Having needs and wants is normal and healthy. Not asking for what we need and want is unhealthy. After experiencing trauma, we might forego asking to have our needs and wants to be met. This only holds us back. Treatment for substance use disorder prepared us to take charge of our lives. Now, we must begin the process of becoming the most we can be by asking for what we need and want. 

Learning to ask for what you need and want can be one of the most challenging aspects of recovery, be it from trauma, a mental health condition, substance use disorder, or addiction to unhealthy behavior.  You are not alone in your struggle. You deserve to live the life you always wanted and to have your needs met. At The Guest House, we recognize how hard you have worked to address your mental health issues and overcome addiction. We know that asking for what you need and want can be difficult.  We teach you the skills necessary to live the life you want, including how to ask for what you want and need. We support our clients when they are in treatment and then through our alumni programs after that. We want you to succeed. Call us at (855) 483-7800 and learn how we can help you thrive.