Climbing Out of the Abyss – Part 22

June 29, 2017

Meeting Your Unmet Needs

By Paula O’Sullivan

Needs

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 / paulaosullivan1@gmail.com / Phone 086 0848398 All her articles to date are on her blog www.paulaosullivan@wordpress.com

 

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Climbing Out of the Abyss – Part 19

November 24, 2015

addicted

Addicted

By Paula O’Sullivan

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” ― Edgar Allan Poe (Quote)

Whatever you may be addicted to, in order to be free, you’ll need to find out what your addiction appears to be giving you. We won’t give something up unless there is the promise of a better life waiting for us. Every behaviour has a payback, we get something out of it, or we wouldn’t do it. We are motivated in two basic ways: by the ‘Promise of Pleasure’ or the ‘Fear of Pain’.

When we are addicted to something, it can appear that this helps us to deal with our needs and desires, but usually it’s just a quick fix, a band aid solution. This is why people remain addicted for so long. The effects of the alcohol or drugs wear off and we are painfully aware of our reality once again, the adrenalin kick from gambling or sex wears off, and we have to re- experience it again to feel good, hopeful or less lonely. The stressful situations keep happening and we have to keep smoking to help us ‘cope’.

You think the addiction is helping you to cope, but it’s not really solving the issue for you, it’s actually creating more problems. Unless you focus on the benefits of quitting the addiction, and begin to imagine how good that will feel, and how your life and relationships will improve in so many ways, you will remain stuck.

Most of us find it difficult to imagine what we DO want.  Mostly we focus on what we DON’T want to happen. This is the fear of pain again, which stops us from moving forward.

When we’re addicted, we have given up our own power. We are saying to the thing or person ‘Save me, I am powerless without you’.

Most of us who are or have been addicted to something, have very deep emotional needs that weren’t or aren’t being met in a healthy way. This is not so easy to address, so we reach out for something to make it all better, but the pain is still there at the end of the bottle, cigarette, drug, gambling slip, one night stand or whatever. The story is and will remain the same, unless you decide now to change the ending.

Remember that no matter what has happened to you in your life, you still have a choice how to think about it. You can be a strong survivor, or a helpless victim of your circumstances. Most of us just want to feel loved, accepted, and respected. If we are expecting the world to meet our basic needs, we may be disappointed. This creates havoc within us, we feel we aren’t good enough, and we become our own destroyers. We have to find a way to love, accept and respect ourselves first and to discover our own power, regardless of others, then we can be free.  Check my blog for articles that help with this.

Part 20 – It’s A Generational Thing

Paula is an Author / Hypnotherapist / Reiki Healer / Artist / Photographer, in Blessington Co. Wicklow. www.i-want-a-better-life.ie / paulaosullivan1@gmail.com / Phone 086 0848398 All her articles to date are on her blog www.paulaosullivan@wordpress.com


Can ‘Love’ be a Verb?

February 10, 2015

Love is a verb

Most of us have been conditioned into believing that ‘Love’ is something external. It just happens to us, we fall in love or someone falls in love with us. We don’t share any sense of responsibility regarding love. It’s a feeling that just takes us over and can leave us just as quickly.

I saw a post on facebook recently that stated, ‘don’t expect people to love you, sure they don’t even love themselves’. Is this true? I suspect in the majority of cases it is.

For me anyway it was kinda like that. My mum told me frequently in the early years how much of a surprise I was to her, she hadn’t been expecting to have any more children, she meant no harm in saying it, but I grew up not feeling wanted, not loved and somewhat abandoned emotionally. My parents didn’t find it easy to express love, they seemed kind of detached. It is said that we will seek what we’ve never had, so I sought love, I sought support, and I sought people who would prove to me that I was wanted. I played the same scenes over and over throughout my life, different faces, but the same disheartening results.

I would arrive at every new relationship armed with wants and needs, a giant gaping void inside my heart looking to be filled, looking to be made complete, looking for someone to give me what I didn’t have myself, but there was always something missing, and I didn’t know what that was.

It wasn’t until my marital relationship of 17 years broke up, that I began to question my beliefs about love.

I realized that I hadn’t viewed ‘Love’ as a verb, an ‘action’ word. I had seen it as something you got from others. Had I been seeking to ‘get’ not ‘give’, all my life? ‘Perhaps if I had brought what I could give, in more abundance, than my expectations of what I could get, would this have changed some of my experiences?’ I asked myself. But I also became aware that in my desperate need for love and acceptance, I had put everyone else’s needs first as I didn’t feel worthy enough to ask for what I wanted.  I still couldn’t be sure, there was still that emptiness, the something missing inside me. Most of us just want to love and be loved in return, we want people to be nice to us, to respect us, to understand us, to support us when we need support. We want to feel wanted, not abandoned in our times of need.

But what if we are not loving ourselves first? What if we don’t support, respect or we abandon ourselves on a regular basis? What if we can’t even keep the promises we make to ourselves, let alone the ones we make to others? Can we really expect others to give us what we don’t already give to ourselves? Are we all just mirroring those unhealed parts of ourselves back and forth with others? And what if we only feel loved if others tell us we are? Is our worth tied up in that ?Then we’re in real trouble I think, you only have to look at the Jesus story to see that, one week people will be celebrating us, the next they’ll be wishing us a speedy demise ! How can any of us really be there for anyone else, if we’re not there for ourselves first?

It was with trying to find answers to these questions that I began to change my views about ‘Love’.

If I wanted to feel loved, I would have to learn how to love myself first. I needed to develop a strong central core of love inside of me, one that didn’t crumble at each rejection. That meant learning to like and accept who I was at that time. It was a difficult process. I had spent 44 years telling myself things like, I was ugly, not worthy of love, and that I was stupid etc. etc. There was nothing I liked about myself. Reading Louise Hay’s book, ‘You can heal your life’ really helped me at that time. She encouraged people to look in a mirror and actually like what they saw, among other deep work. It took me a long time to like and accept who I was. This work is emotionally painful but well worth it. I gradually accepted who I was and had been. I also became aware of aspects of my personality that weren’t serving me or anyone else for the better.

Learning to love yourself is a very transformative process. As you begin to love yourself, you stop and reconsider those things that might harm yourself, or others. You begin to observe your thoughts, your behaviours and your words. I took a personal oath to ‘Do no harm’. I began to see the sacredness of all life, mine and others, human, animal and environmental too. I began to see the effect that I was having on myself and others and I began to live, to think, to speak and to behave more consciously. I found what nourishes the soul.

And no, people didn’t suddenly come rushing into my life to support, love, respect and be there for me, some did, some didn’t, but it didn’t matter anymore, because I was there for myself, I respectfully stopped caring about peoples’ opinions of me, and while I recognised that emotional independence was better that emotional dependence, I still also knew that the best to aim for was emotional interdependence, which is when people are there for each other and themselves at the same time, both giving and receiving freely without conditions or expectations. Both wanting the very best for all concerned, celebrating life, not destroying it. From then on I chose to spend time with people who were living consciously more often than those who weren’t.

So to make Love a verb, I decided to just love. I began to practice listening better (stay with me, I’m a work in progress) I began to try to understand others before I expected to be understood. I sought to see what I could give in every situation rather than what I could get. Instead of looking at how useful people could be to me, I began to see how useful I could be to them instead, in every interaction. In the hope that I could leave others happier and better off than when I found them. A kind word of encouragement, a friendly smile, a genuine compliment. No, not to get anything, not to gain ground or friendship, not to get people to like me, or to be persuasive or manipulative,  and not in a premeditative way, only ever spontaneously, just so that I could practice being loving to all, yes even those who were not nice.

We are all working within the realms and limitations of our current awareness. We are all doing the best we can with what we know, when we know better, we do better. Knowing this, helped me to forgive my parents. They did not know how to love themselves, so they found it difficult to show their love, and they didn’t know how I allowed that to affect me. This also allowed me to practice forgiveness in general and to cut people a bit of slack, are any of us ever fully aware of how we affect others? Those who are in deep emotional pain, who don’t love themselves, are the ones who cause the most distress for others with their words and actions.

When we practice loving, we are there for ourselves first, but not in a selfish way, we consider others, but we nourish ourselves from the well first, before we have enough nourishment in us, to give to others. We don’t feel we’re losing anything in being nice, and  we can be more there for them, with much less resentment. When we love ourselves we can learn discernment, we can set up a healthy emotional bank account that has more deposits than withdrawals, for healthy balanced relationships, as regular attempts are made to meet everyone’s needs. And we can set healthy boundaries and not allow ourselves to be treated in ways that destroy our spirit.

So how can we begin? We must first make some space to get to know ourselves, to be able to watch and observe our thoughts, our actions and to notice the affects they have on ourselves and others. Create a sacred space or sacred time that’s just yours. Go out into nature, go into a room by yourself, or go to bed earlier or later than others to find that quiet time. Place your hands over your heart centre, the centre of your chest, close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly and deeply for a while, until you feel a measure of peace, and ask yourself, ‘How can I love myself and others more?’

I also found this very powerful visualization to help you put things into perspective. Close your eyes, breathe deeply a few times. Now imagine you are at the end of your life, you have one hour left to contemplate all that has brought you to this point. If you had the time over again, what would you do differently? How would you have treated the ones you loved? What would have said, that you didn’t say? What would you have liked to do in your life that you didn’t do? What regrets do you have?

Now open your eyes, you’re still here, you’re still alive, that last hour may be nearer than you think. You now have a chance to change what you will be thinking about at the end of your life, when it does come. What will you do differently from now on?

The answers may surprise you!


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