To be human means that one has needs and these cover a wide range of different areas. For instance, one has: physical, mental and emotional needs. And although each of these are important when it comes to experiencing a level of wellbeing and a sense of fulfilment, it doesn’t mean that one will have all of these needs met.
If one didn’t have their physical needs met their time on this earth would soon come to an end. These are essential and create the foundations of ones life. But while having these needs met is of the upmost importance to ones survival, what they won’t do is lead to happiness and fulfilment.
To be in a position where one has not eaten for a few hours or a whole day will result in one having the monetary experience of being happy and fulfilled. This is the exception though and this is not how one is going to feel when they receive food on a regular basis.
This can be seen in the west; where people are often filled right up when it comes to food and yet a sense of fulfilment is often lacking. So clearly getting ones physical needs met is not enough when it comes to a fulfilling life.
In some cases, when one doesn’t feel fulfilled in other areas or what is often described as ones higher needs that are further up their body, they can resort to comfort eating. Here, one eats food not because they are hungry; it is because their other needs are not being met.
This can also relate to another physical need: exercise. To take part in some kind of activity that engages the body is another important need. This could be utilized in balance way or in shorter cycles that are more intense and focused.
Each one of us is different and therefore will not only be able to handle different levels of intensity, but will also need to experience more than others to achieve a sense of satisfaction. And just like the need for food, when ones others needs are not being met, exercise can also be used to compensate for other neglected needs.
This is something that is generally not too difficult to fulfil in the west. In most cases people go to school and then onto college and or university. Then there are newspapers, books and the primary source of information for a lot of people – the internet.
So for the individual that is highly or even just slightly curious, today’s world is perfect. With the help of the internet, information is at most people’s finger tips. What used to be available to only a select few is now available to anyone who is interested. In the past the desire was there, but the information wasn’t and now this is no longer true.
While ones mental needs are important, there are plenty of people in the world who have access to all kinds of knowledge and who are incredibly intelligent and yet they are not happy or fulfilled. They could have degrees, PhDs and own the highest qualifications known to man and yet they still feel as though something is missing.
This could lead one to assuming that they need to learn more and that more information will fill this whole. Or as described above, one could end up eating more food to try and find the answers. And then there is exercise and one might decide that using their body to the limits will supply the missing piece of the puzzle.
Others options that one can chose are drugs and alcohol. Not only will these affect ones physical body, they will also impact their mental and emotional sides. The main reason people take these is to change their emotional experience. Food and exercise also allow one to change how they feel, albeit momentarily. Learning something new and gaining knowledge can shape how one feels.
So underneath the actions that one takes in their life is an emotional driver. The body needs food to survive and when one eats they end up feeling all kinds of emotions. Emotions are as much a part of life as breathing is. However, in today’s world, they are generally ignored and denied.
The emotional needs that play a big part someone’s wellbeing and fulfilment are then overlooked. This can cause one to overcompensate in other areas of their life as a way to indirectly meet their emotional needs.
And these emotional needs could relate to what one is not currently receiving in their life and to what they didn’t receive as a child. What one didn’t get as a child is likely to be brought forward to their adult years; unless they have healed this early neglect through a relationship or some kind of therapy.
These can be the need to feel: loved, accepted, secure, appreciated and approved of, worthy, safe and heard, amongst others.
So while one could heal this early neglect and move on from what took place when they were younger, this doesn’t always take place. Instead, one can end up using the pain of not having them met in ways that can lead to destruction and even success.
One could: comfort eat, over exercise, take drugs, have sex, go from one relationship to another and drink alcohol. This behaviour could mean that they are labelled as addicts. This is a form in inner violence and other people could choose more external means. Here, one could engage in violence, and crime.
Or one could use this pain and become highly successful in a certain area or even many areas of their life. This enables them to escape from the feeling of emptiness within.
Grieving Unmet Needs
For as long as these unmet childhood needs are within someone, it will be more of less impossible for anything external to truly change how they feel. They might provide short term relief, but that will be it. One might get caught in cycle and as the artificial fulfilment has worn off, find something else to achieve it once more.
One is ultimately going round in circles and is fighting a battle that cannot be won. Addictions can be blamed, but they are often being used to regulate the pain of not having ones early needs met. So all these external things are simply consequences of what is going on within.
As an adult, one can have others meet certain needs, but what they can’t do is give one exactly what they didn’t receive from their childhood years. Trying to find someone to completely fulfil these unmet needs as an adult will only lead to further pain and suffering in the long run.
Not having these needs met would have created emotional pain when one was a child, and this pain will need to be faced and released as an adult. As this takes place, the inner abyss will disappear and one will feel less needy. They will also begin to realise the needs that other people can meet and what needs they can’t.
One is not trying to change what happened many years ago; they are letting go of the trapped feeling and emotions that have remained in their body ever since. This can be done with the assistance of a therapist or a healer who will allow one to face them and gradually release them.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.