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How to Identify What You Need

How to Identify What You Need by Kelley Grimes at Cultivating Peace and Joy

Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.

~Barbara De Angelis


The foundation of cultivating an empowered life filled with peace and joy is knowing what you need. Identifying what you need is fundamental in nurturing healthy relationships, setting boundaries and creating your intentional life.


Most women are brilliant at recognizing other people’s needs, but are challenged when it comes to identifying their own. We spend so much of our time caring for other people’s needs that we lose touch with what we need. Our habit of self-neglect over time undermines our self-awareness and ability to recognize what would be in our highest good.


Unfortunately, without being able to identify what we need, it is almost impossible to get our needs met. And when we have an opportunity to take time to nurture and care for ourselves, we don’t know where to start.


As Rob Liano brilliantly points out, “If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never find it. If you don’t know what you deserve, you’ll always settle for less. You will wander aimlessly, uncomfortably numb in your comfort zone, wondering how life has ended up here.”


When we go for a period of time without getting our needs met we become overwhelmed, exhausted, resentful, frustrated, and even depressed, lacking meaning in our lives.


Have you felt any of those emotions lately? If so you are not alone.


Learning to identify our own needs is critical for our health and wellness and for the health of all of our relationships.


As a result, simply identifying our needs becomes an act of self-nurturing that is critical in the process of creating a more meaningful life.


Here are my four steps to identifying what you need:


  1. Start with an intention to be compassionate and non-judgmental toward yourself.


  1. Pause and take a deep breath.


  1. Check in with your body and notice with curiosity how you are feeling.


  1. Ask yourself what do I need right now?



Remember that self-reflection is key in the process of nurturing your self-awareness. Choosing to pause throughout the day and check in with yourself is critical to transforming your habit of self-neglect and learning to identify what you need. Once you recognize what you need, honor yourself by meeting your need. Like any new skill, you need to practice it daily in order to integrate it into your life.


May you commit to pausing throughout the day to check in with what you need and may you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!

Kelley Grimes

Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,

Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker

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Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Lore Raymond says:

    Pushing the pause button is sooo important! I think Staples needs to create one…I have the “That Was Easy” button.

    • Pausing is so important Lore and provides the space to assess what is going on with us. Adding this one practice into our day can change everything and becomes the foundation of our self-nurturing practice. I have cards that remind us to breathe but may add “Pause and notice what you need right now.” Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Love this Kelley! You are so right on – we can know how to intuitively help so many others… But when I ask my clients what they want a lot of time they will say a broad answer “to be happy” but have no clue on any level (financially, in relationships, spiritually, etc) what that might even look like. Pausing and getting centered in our hearts, turning off all distractions is a wonderful way to receive that guidance! Sending Love, Jenny

    • Thank you so much Jenny! Pausing and centering in our hearts allows us to listen to that still small voice and then follow it! I am sending love and gratitude right back to you!

  • Natasha Botkin says:

    Love the ideal of purposely pausing. I am at major crossroads and changes, and have voiced my need to pause, so I may rest and regain mySelf before traveling further down my path. Xoxo

    • Purposely pausing is a fabulous phrase Natasha and so important when we are at major crossroads or transitions in our lives. May you feel empowered in the process of pausing to regain yourself as you make new choices in your life. Sending you so much love and gratitude!

  • Love it, Kelley! That’s a message that women can’t get enough of!

  • Just like the instruction to put on your air mask first on an airplane so you can then help others, we can’t do our best for others if we don’t take care of our own needs first.

  • Andrea says:

    Learning to identify our own needs is an important skill set. Thanks for sharing the process.

  • Suzie Cheel says:

    Kelley- I love the quote so true. I do 3 of your tasks each morning – I love the addition of curiosity. Yes knowing what you need is crucial and something so many don’t ask xxx

    • How wonderful that you have a supportive self-nurturing practice Suzie that connects you with what yourself and what you need! I love to add curiosity into how I relate to myself and the world because it is a gentle approach that allows me to learn rather then judge or criticize. Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Lottie Moore says:

    I love this Kelly, in our busy lives we so often forget to take a look at what we need too – your 4 simple steps will be helpful to lots of people as they look to cultivate this habit. thank you x

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