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From OK to wey-hey!

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Liz Wilde

Feeling content is great, but real can’t-wipe-that-grin-off-your-face happiness is fantastic. And according to life coach Liz Wilde, it’s easy to feel that good all day, every day. Her simple quiz reveals exactly how

“We know when things aren’t 100%. But hands up who knows just what to do to make them 100%”

Here’s a true story. Jane Bravo had everything from the ‘How to have the perfect life’ textbook: a managing director husband, four-bedroomed house, two kids and even an Aga (well, it is the oven du ]our). Jane also liked her job as a classroom assistant. ‘Thing is,’ says Jane, ‘while I was content, there was always something niggling me at the back of my mind. I enjoyed life more with a pleasant sigh rather than an excited, bubbling feeling. I knew that while I had a lot, life wasn’t quite how I’d planned it. But because we were comfortable, there was no real need to push myself’

Anna felt the same. She trained hard to become a lawyer and was well on the way to making partner. ‘But my life felt locked into this well-oiled rhythm — things were fine, and yet... One day a friend asked how I was. “Fine,” I said, but thought— when did I last say, “Fantastic!”?’

‘And that,’ says life coach Liz Wilde, ‘is the flip side of contentment.’ Getting all the material things we want in life —job, house, family —doesn’t satisfy the deeper emotional issues. Ignore these needs and it’s likely your happiness flag will only ever fly at half mast.

Of course, that’s not rocket science. The hard part is learning to pinpoint exactly what these emotional needs are. We always know when things aren’t 100 per cent. But hands up who knows exactly what to do to make things 100 per cent?

Jane Bravo didn’t realise what was missing in her life until her husband was made redundant and she had to get a second job as a slimming-club leader. ‘It was incredibly nerve-racking the first time I had to get up in front of a class, but the sense of achievement was fantastic. I always thought I liked being in the background, but actually a part of me loves being a leader.’

A life crisis often pushes us to re-examine our lives. But why wait for something bad to do something good? ‘Just pinpointing the undernourished areas of your life can completely transform how you feel,’ says Liz Wilde. Start now by taking the quiz overleaf and following Liz’s simple guide to feeling not just fine but fantastic.

Step 1 Find out what you need to feel happy

Look at the 10 statements below and decide which are most relevant to you. Score like this...
That’s me to a T = 10
That’s true of me sometimes = 5
I hardly ever feel like that = 0

1 It makes me mad if I put myself out for someone and don’t get a proper thank you.

2 I feel upset if my partner forgets to kiss me hello and goodbye.

3 I get panicky if I have more than three social engagements in one week.

4 I like to be useful. I feel a bit redundant if no one wants my help.

5 I hate feeling under pressure to conceal the truth.

6 Being outvoted and having to go on with other people’s plans is really difficult for me.

7 I expect to be consulted and I’m put out if no one asks my opinion.

8 I regularly take hour—long baths— it’s the only time I can be alone.

9 I can’t stand being interrupted or ignored.

10 Pointless small-talk drives me mad. I’d rather see one close friend than a gang of acquaintances.

Where did you score 10?
Check your scores, noting where you scored 10. Then read the corresponding analyses below to find out your core needs, which must be satisfied for you to feel good and operate at your best.

1 When you’ve done a good job, you need other people to say it out loud. Without a certain amount of positive feedback in your life you’ll feel unhappy. You need to feel appreciated.

2 Love is not enough; it’s showing it that counts with you, and cool, undemonstrative people make you question your own worth. You need to receive affection.

3 Much as you enjoy being with friends, a crowded diary makes you claustrophobic. You need to escape and prioritise a certain amount of freedom.

4 If family and friends’ lives seem to be running smoothly without your support, you feel lost. Above all, you need to feel needed.

5 You’re driven by a strong sense of integrity. If injustice or dodgy business practice make you uneasy, you need to be authentic.

6 The downside of being one of life’s leaders is that you find it difficult to be led. If you answered yes to this statement, you need to feel in control.

7 If lack of recognition and put-downs upset you more than most people, you need to feel respected.

8 Me-time isn’t an optional extra for you —you must have time on your own. What you need is space.

9 You may not want to take charge but you want to have a voice. You need to feel heard.

10 You don’t like networking— soul mates are what count with you. You need to feel connected.

Step 2

Analyse your needs
So now you’ve pinpointed the needs that you have to nourish in order to grow and feel 100 per cent happy. Needs develop because at one stage in life, maybe when you were very young, they weren’t satisfied. Perhaps your parents weren’t affectionate, so you’ve grown up craving affection and feel unloved without it.

The less your needs are met, the more you’re aware of them. For example, you need food on a regular basis, but you only notice that need when you’re hungry. After a big meal, the last thing you crave is another course, and the same goes for emotional needs. When you’re full up, you feel happy and content, but when you’re empty, you’re dissatisfied. Which is why a jet-setting job with unlimited travel won’t make you happy if your core need is to feel connected. And a glamorous job in a superficial industry will leave you feeling isolated if your core need is to be authentic (even if all your friends are insanely jealous).

What if you feel you need everything — space, affection, respect, freedom and appreciation? Take another look at your scores and pick the three needs that feel most important right now.

If you’re still unsure, think back to the last time you lost your temper or felt really upset. What need was under threat and caused this reaction? Did you fly off the handle at your partner for planning your precious weekend (freedom)? Or when something caught his eye on the TV while you were talking (being heard)?

Step 3

Go get’em!
It’s easier to satisfy your own needs than to rely on others to do it for you — you have more motivation after all. Start the ball rolling by rewarding yourself.

Suppose your need is to receive affection — how can you give it to yourself? Easy. Buy flowers for your home. Book a weekly massage. Be kinder to yourself when you make a mistake. Put yourself first.

If your need is to be acknowledged, buy a notebook and start a ‘victory log’. At the end of each day, write down everything you’ve done that you feel proud of and acknowledge each good deed. And if your need is to be needed? Satisfy it by offering support to the lonely old lady in your road. Or volunteer at a local homeless centre or branch of Samaritans.

Once you’ve started the process, you may find that others begin to supply your needs too, because subconsciously they’ve noted what you want. And if they don’t? Just ask. No guilt trips, no demands, no accusing. Use ‘I’ statements and explain exactly what you want.

So if you need to be heard, rather than bombarding your partner with an account of your day the minute he walks through the door, say: ‘I really enjoy talking to you — when can I have your full attention this evening?’ Set it up so it becomes automatic. Eating your dinner at the table instead of in front of the TV will make it easier, or turn off the TV at a set time, so you regularly have some quiet time together.

As no one person can ever meet all your needs, rather than asking everything from your partner, share the load among family and friends. Suppose your need is space. Ask your family: ‘I’d really love some time on my own at the weekend—when is best for me to disappear for an hour?’

If your needs are not being met, chances are you’re not meeting people who satisfy them without being asked. If your need is to be in control, who do you know who enjoys leaving the decision-making to someone else? If you need to be authentic, gravitate towards those who allow you to be true to yourself. If you have to be respected, find people who value your opinion.

Look for people who naturally satisfy your needs and spend more time with them. It may take time, but when your ultimate guide is true happiness, then that’s certainly worth making time for.

Unlock Your Potential by Liz Wilde is published by Ryland, Peters & Small, priced £14.99.

(c) Liz Wilde     Back to Features