Meeting Your Unmet Needs
By Paula O’Sullivan
Photo courtesy of http://www.pexels.com
‘We’re only as needy, as our unmet needs’ –John Bowlby (Quote)
Identifying the difference between our needs and our wants, can be the beginning of a very beautiful friendship, with ourselves and others.
Most of us have some very basic common needs, including the need to be loved, accepted, respected, touched, seen, connected, and heard, to feel safe and to feel special.
What happens to us if these basic needs have not been met, either in our early childhood experiences or later on as life progresses?
Well, we’ll go looking to get them met. Everyone you meet, is trying to get their needs met, in some way, shape or form. Knowing this can help us to understand others better. But what about ourselves?
If we don’t know exactly what our needs are, then we might get addicted to something, or find ourselves repeatedly experiencing relationships or situations that cause us deeper pain, in an attempt to cover up our distress or unease. We’ll feel we need to have ‘something’ in our lives to compensate for the loss we feel inside, at not getting our needs met. This can also trigger a deep depression, disconnection and feelings of abandonment and un-worthiness.
And there’s no guarantee that even if you can identify your needs, that someone or something else will actually satisfy that for you. It’s a huge burden to put on someone to expect them to meet all your needs. And even with alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography etc. You’ll still feel the void after the bottle is empty, the high has subsided, the sex is over, the movies or pictures cease to stimulate you. You’ll have to constantly ‘Chase the Dragon, as they say, for your next high. And in between those highs, it can get very low indeed.
If you don’t find out what you really want, and learn to ask for it in a healthy way, you’ll end up attracting others who also share some similar unmet needs. Yes I know, you’re probably thinking, now wouldn’t that be nice, but I can tell you, it can get real dysfunctional!
What’s the difference between a need and a want then?
A ‘Need’ is something you feel you have to have (or you’ll die)
A ‘Want’ is something you would like to have (you won’t die if you don’t get it)
Psychologically, not feeling loved, can make us die a little inside. In some cases where babies weren’t touched or stroked in the early days, they actually died. Those that didn’t die, grew up pre- disposed to depression, anxiety, violence, addictions etc. and were averse to feeling love or being touched. (Psychology experts will tell you that if you didn’t bond with someone in childhood, that you won’t be able to bond with anyone later on, but you can change this, it wasn’t easy, but I did!) So in a way these things are needs for our healthy functioning, and for our soul too.
But what if, in all the searching, what if in all the wrong relationships, you still didn’t meet anyone who really loved you, cared for you, heard you etc.? What then?
Like I said, most people find ways to cope, to compensate, and that’s ok, we’re all doing the best we can to keep surviving, but if all this is causing you mental and emotional pain, I’d like to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way.
We cannot change anything until we become aware of it. So we need to ask ourselves what do we want, and what do we need, for to create a healthy balance in our lives? And then we need to find the courage to begin asking for that.
More importantly though, because as I said you may not get what you ask for, is to learn how to meet some of your own needs.
No this isn’t an easy task, there’s no quick fix, it’s a process, which needs to be practiced and tested out over periods of time.
You may have to explore issues like your Self Esteem (part 7) or your Core Beliefs (part 13) or being Addicted (part 19) among others.
In my early childhood, I didn’t feel loved, accepted, respected, heard, touched, seen or connected. I had very low self- esteem and a general feeling of unworthiness. This affected my whole life up until I was 44! It affected my career choices and my relationships.
The need to be loved kept me tied to many mental, emotional and physically abusive situations. I survived them, but my soul suffered from all of this. I never found love in those relationships. I found sex, which I thought was love, but it wasn’t, and it certainly wasn’t a good enough reason for me to stay so long with those experiences, but hey, that’s what expecting others to meet your unmet needs can do for you.
When I was 44, I began an amazing journey into meeting my own needs, and that has changed everything for me.
It began with learning to actually LOVE MYSELF. That meant dealing with the negative Self Talk (part 5). It began with recognizing that I just wanted people to be nice to me, because I’m actually a nice person, and more importantly, I needed ME to be nice to ME!
Once this process started, I began to ask myself better questions.
- If I loved myself, what would be different? How would I talk to myself if I loved myself? What kind of friends or relationships would I tolerate if I loved myself? (I’ve distanced myself from people who are just plain unaware, if they’re not honouring and respecting themselves, they are not going to be able to honour and respect me. If they are destroying themselves, they’re not going to be in a position to celebrate my blossoming, now are they?)
- What way would I treat my body if I loved myself? (I stopped drinking alcohol, I chose my foods more carefully, I rest when I need to rest, I meditate and exercise daily) If no one wanted to listen to me, how could I get my voice or thoughts heard? (I started to journal, then blog, then that turned into a book, now I’ve several books in the making, there’s always someone out there who might be interested in what you’ve learnt)
- How could I meet my own sexual needs in a safe way? (Ha, ha, use your imagination for that one!) How could I experience touch? (I got massages and Reiki and began to feel more comfortable with hugging, free hug anyone?)
- How could I feel more connected? (Spiritual practices of meditation, mindfulness (part 6) and reading inspirational books, helped me see that I am already connected to everything, it was only my thoughts and feelings that made me think otherwise)
- How could I feel seen? (I started making videos! I started to put myself out there to help people also)
- How could I feel respected? (Once I started to respect myself, I found I attracted more people who did respect me, and could easily distance myself from those who don’t, what they think of me doesn’t matter, I know my worth now !)
- How could I feel safe? (By not allowing my needs to override my wants and get me into potentially dangerous situations, which they did in the past!)
This began the most loving relationship I’ve ever had! I’m 100% there for me. I buy myself flowers and gifts. I don’t criticize myself anymore, I know I’m doing the best I can in any moment. I do review my performance at the end of each day, I do seek to improve myself as I deem necessary. I’m in the process of honouring my higher ideals. I love, accept and respect myself, enough to walk away from anyone or anything that is not honouring my higher ideals. This hasn’t been easy, because I’m human, and I keep getting tested, I’m not fully there yet, I’m not even sure there is a ‘there’ to get to, but hey I’m in a process ! I’ve identified my essential needs, and I’ve also divided some of those into wants. I’m not needy now. I won’t accept any old kind of relationship anymore. I might want intimacy, and companionship but I’m happy with myself, I don’t need it, there’s a difference, I can be more choosy now. There’s great freedom in that!
Part 23 – Divided Mind – Taming the Ego
Paula is an Author / Hypnotherapist / Reiki Healer / Life Coach / Artist / Photographer, in Blessington Co. Wicklow. www.i-want-a-better-life.ie / firstname.lastname@example.org / Phone 086 0848398 All her articles to date are on her blog email@example.com