Expressing Feelings and Needs

We often say “I feel like ___,” or “I feel that ___.” What follows often isn’t a feeling but rather an assessment. For example, “I feel like you don’t listen to me,” or “I feel that you don’t care about this relationship.” What follows “I feel” is an assessment of a situation rather the feelings evoked by that situation. If I was telling myself “I feel like my partner doesn’t listen to me,” I may be feeling sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, hurt, lonely, afraid, anxious, or any other number of feelings.

Additionally, when say “I need ___,” often what follows isn’t a need but rather a strategy. For example, “I need you to clean your room,” or “I need to get to work on time.” What we’re expressing is something we are wanting; a strategy to speak to an underlying need. “I need you to clean your room” is stating a desired strategy that we hope will speak to our need for order, respect, consideration, or some other need.

Here is a link to a list of common Feelings words. Here is a link to a list of common Needs words.

When we clearly express our feelings in relation to our clearly expressed needs, it is easier for others to connect with us, and for us to connect with ourselves.


Take note of what follows the phrase “I feel ____” and “I need____” when you’re speaking tomorrow. Are you completing each sentence with a feeling or need? If not, would you like to?

To really see this language in action, watch a 30 minute TV show and listen hard for “I feel ___” and “I need ____.” It’s amazing how infrequently we are actually sharing our feelings and needs with others.