What do you need, Momma?

emotions needs Mar 24, 2023
Wendy holding her hands in a heart shape asking what do you need?

What do you need, Momma?

Have you heard the questions about identifying your kids’ needs? Basically, all behaviors that we have are driven because of our emotions. And emotions are our indicators if our needs are being met or not.

If this is new to you, just hold on, examples are coming to bring it to life:

When my kids are acting… cranky or argumentative or moody, I am practicing asking, what do they need?

When my husband is burying his head in emails instead of talking with me, I ask: what does he need?

When my patients are melting down in the office, what do they need?

Is it patience, structure, consistency, to be noticed, to have some decreased stimulation?


We get to do the same thing for ourselves.

Actually, we get to do that FIRST: Ask yourself, "What do I need?"

We are experiencing all the stressors of life: work, capitalism, patriarchal society, oh and throw in some kids, exhaustion and then health into the mix.

Thinking about all of that is overwhelming for me. And so I ask, "What do I need?"

You see, overwhelm is an emotion that sure is common, and while I could punch someone for saying that it’s optional… I get it, there are other perspectives available. And I’ve honestly been slipping into feeling overwhelmed quite a bit lately for all of the above reasons.

So I ask, "What do I need?"

For me, that is usually answered with a deep exhale. (Slow breath in, and let it out completely. I do it every time I re-read this line!) It feels ah-mazing, and triggers the vagal nerve, the parasympathetic nervous system which is the calming side of the house.

That simple breath (or a few of them) helps me shift from the spinning and many-tabs-open overwhelm to a space that can help me truly answer the question:

"What do I need?"

There are no right answers. And they can be different depending on the day.

🫶 Perhaps, it’s to let go of something, or several things (heck, all of them!).

🫶 Perhaps, it’s to sloooow down. There’s a myth that we have to keep moving, and doing it at break-neck speed. Why? You are worthy and amazing and doing the absolute best you can at every speed, so why rush?

🫶 Perhaps, it’s to rest. Close my eyes. Take more of those breaths. Or, to get more sleep (always a winner in my book!)

🫶 Often, for me, it’s to focus. Focus on one thing at a time.

🫶 Declutter: my brain, my space, my schedule. Ok, I thought for years that my superpower was multi-tasking. I realize now that I cannot truly function at my best when I’m continually switching gears, especially in today’s society of electronic notifications and interruptions all the damn day. I need to focus on one thing at a time, give it my complete attention, and then move on to the next. This has been the game-changer for me clinically, where I see the long list of patients who are waiting to be seen: it is instantly overwhelming to not be able to see the forest through the trees.

And then, I start with one patient at a time. I practice focusing on just that patient, that family, and give them all of my attention. We finish, and I move to the next family.

I practice that at home. My desk is still a decluttering work in progress, trust me. But I remind myself of how I don’t have to have all the distractions there.

When my family is coming up, “Mom! Mom!” I ask them (ok, tell them) to please give me a moment to finish what I’m doing. It’s not disrespecting them, it’s not pushing them off, it’s “closing the tab” on what I’m doing, so I don’t have to restart. Done. That is what decluttering looks like for me.

What do you need?

Notice if you respond with “to get it done” or “to lose weight” or “to stop feeling this way” or “to have them act differently.” Is that you talking, or is that external pressures, societal expectations or just trying to push through it? Notice how often we think that it’s needing other people to change. Yeah, that would be nice, but what is it that you imagine would happen if they changed? Peace? Quiet? To feel seen and appreciated? That is the need.

The question “What do you need?” actually is using the emotion that you’re feeling and not pushing it away, not white-knuckling through it, but listening to it, and getting curious what it means about your needs.

When we feel positive emotions, that is a signal that our needs are being met.

When we feel more negative emotions, that is an indication that we have unmet needs.

Now, there is no such thing as getting to a Shangri-la place where all your needs are met and you feel amazing forevermore. There’s always something shifting, there’s growth, and there will always be things outside of our control. The real question in asking “What do I need?”, is seeing how you can identify what is within your control to identify and address those needs.

This is the real heart of self-care: it’s a compassionate identification of needs, and efforts to meet them. There’s nothing selfish about it. We all have needs. Humans have needs. And we, my friend, as moms and partners and workers and creators all have needs.

It’s time we acknowledge that. When our needs are fulfilled, we can support those around us from a much healthier place.


The CE experience for this Podcast is powered by CMEfy - click here to reflect and earn credits: https://earnc.me/yrHnup

Check out the Family in Focus with Wendy Schofer, MD Podcast!

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