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Feelings, Needs and Values: Some Teaching Messages for Girls

by Katharine Krueger

(portions adapted from Marshall Rosenberg’s “Non-Violent Communication”)

All emotions are normal and healthy.  Even the unpleasant ones.  Being sad, mad, bored or scared is just as OK (albeit less pleasant) as being happy or proud.  You don’t have to pretend to be happy or interested.  But do aim to express feelings considerately.

Everyone gets big feelings or rollercoaster feelings sometimes, but especially during puberty.

Habits that help: Notice your feelings.  Identify your feelings (sad, angry, scared, happy, proud, etc).  Feel your feelings (don’t push them down inside – or away at someone else).  Express your feelings (in non-harmful ways!  Be considerate if you can, but sometimes it’s better to be inconsiderate than not to express at all).

Experiment to find what works for you to release difficult feelings, or help them get smaller: talk, draw, write, dance, run, make music, go outside, meditate,…

Try: Treat a difficult emotion like a newborn baby or a puppy who is feeling the same feeling.  Imagine holding it tenderly, with compassion and understanding.

Talk to a trusted adult if it feels like your emotions are getting ‘too big’.

Our emotions are part of our inner guidance system.  Emotions developed over millions of years of evolution to help us.

Girl of Central Vietnam by Rhahn Photography
Girl of Central Vietnam by Rhahn Photography

Emotions arise from met and unmet needs, wants, hopes, values
Met needs -> usually stimulate pleasant feelings
Unmet needs -> usually stimulate unpleasant feelings
Emotions = body’s signal that a natural human need is met or unmet.
Feeling lonely?  Perhaps your need for friendship is unmet.
Feeling afraid?: Perhaps your need for safety is unmet (physical or emotional)
Feeling rested?  Perhaps your need for sleep or ease has been met.

When a need is met, emotions lead us to “do more of the same”.  Yay!

When a need is unmet, our emotions alert us, so that we can identify the unmet need, and finds ways to meet the need.  Yay!

This is cool: Identifying and really connecting in your body-mind to an unmet need in can help you feel much better right away.  Ask yourself, “What are the unmet need(s) behind what I am feeling now?”  Connecting deeply to the beauty of that need can soften your heart and release the difficult emotion. You may even  enjoy the difficult emotion – for instance, sadness in missing a friend.

Emotions also help with communication, decision-making & more.
Emotions also signal when our VALUES are “met” or “unmet”.
A need is something that you want and value.
A value is something deeply important to you, without reference to specific people, places, actions or times. It is a guiding principle in your life.
What matters to you – your needs, values, hopes and dreams – is important!
We want to stand up for what matters to us, while considering the needs and values of others.