Yeah, we’ve said it, we’ve had it said to us. Sadly, for some THIS is a level of open, honest, and vulnerable communication that is the very best that they can muster. However, it is not enough. What is needed however is much more. More specific information than just a blanket statement is what is needed and is sadly missing.
Keep in mind that we have emotional/relational needs and what they are. Ten of the most prominent ones are:
Acceptance: Receiving another person willingly and unconditionally, even when the other’s behavior has been imperfect. Loving another in spite of differences or failures. (Romans 15:7)
Affection: Expressing care and closeness through physical touch; saying “I love you” or “I care about you.” (Romans 16:16; Mark 10:16)
Appreciation: Expressing thanks, praise or commendation. Recognizing accomplishment or effort particularly for what someone does. (Colossians 3:15b; 1 Corinthians 11:2)
Approval (Blessing): Building up or affirming another particularly for who they are; affirming both the fact of, and the importance of a relationship. (Ephesians 4:29; Mark 1:11)
Attention: Conveying appropriate interest, concern, and care; taking thought of another; entering another’s world. (1 Corinthians 12:25)
Comfort: Responding to a hurting person with words, feelings, and touch; to hurt with and for another’s grief or pain. (Romans 12:15b; Matthew 5:4; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; John 11:35)
Encouragement: Urging another to persist and persevere toward a goal; stimulating toward love and good deeds, particularly when someone is weary. (I Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24)
Respect: Valuing and regarding one another highly; treating one another as important; honoring one another. (Romans 12:10)
Security (Peace): Ensuring harmony in relationships even as conflicts are resolved, trust is deepened and vulnerability is expressed; providing freedom from fear or threat of harm. (Romans 12:16, 18)
Support: Coming alongside and gently helping with a problem or struggle; providing appropriate assistance.(Gal 6:2)
I’ve talked about them at length specifically and in general several times. I also talk a lot about hurts. We have gone through where do hurts go, how does this look, and what to do with them, and many different components of hurts.
Recently, I have discovered something that will make all of this a bit more simple. It is a definition of a hurt that begets a question. Here it is: “A hurt is an emotional need that is not met or taken.” The question that it begets is, “What need was taken or not met?” Thus, instead of saying, “That hurt my feelings.” You can instead say, “When you did x,y,z it really took away my (insert emotional need here).”
For example, let’s say you have a high need for security. You worry a lot about those that you love. Your spouse comes home late from work and misses a family dinner. You have been worrying that they were not ok. You were thinking of all of the things that may have happened to them. You did not feel secure because of their failing to call or be home in time. You tell them that it hurt your feelings that they were late and didn’t call. Their interpretation of this could be that you are upset because you went to all of the trouble of making a dinner and they didn’t make it in time (appreciation). Perhaps they think you are hurt because you feel that they don’t value your role in the family (approval/blessing). It could even be that they think you are just needing more attention (well…attention).
Now, given the example, the spouse who was late goes about apologizing or making amends based on the wrong emotional need not being met or being taken from them. The hurt lies there, unprocessed, not healed, still wounded. Thus, the next time is worse and worse, and then it all blows up at some point… or at that point!
If, however, the person would have said, “When you were late, and you didn’t call, I became really afraid and worried for you. I need you to know that a simple text or call would have helped me feel so much safer, so much more secure.” Now, the person knows exactly how they hurt you. They can choose to apologize in a way that helps you know that they get it. They can then realize that giving you a call is not just “checking in” but instead loving you by meeting your need.
A hurt is an emotional need taken from you or simply not met. To identify this takes an understanding and knowledge of what the emotional needs are and which ones you need the most. If you can do this, you will find communicating it to be easier and easier and your interactions with others to be better and much more productive.