Having needs is simply part of the human experience and is not something that is bad or wrong. However, although this is the case, it doesn’t mean that everyone on this planet feels comfortable with their needs.
When someone doesn’t feel comfortable with them, their life is going to be a lot harder than it needs to be. This could be something that they are consciously aware of or it could be something that it just outside of their awareness.
If this is not something that they are aware of, it won’t be possible for them to do anything about what is going on. What is likely to be normal is for them to act needless.
They can create the impression that they don’t have needs and this could be something that they even tell themselves. Consequently, they can spend a lot of time being there for others and very little time being there for themselves.
There can then be a lot of people in their life who provide them with a lot of positive feedback and appreciate what they do, along with those that take advantage of them. From the outside, it will be as though one is doing the “right” thing and is even a model human being.
In reality, one will be ignoring most, if not all, of their needs and this will mean that they have abandoned themselves. Through living in this way, they may find that they experience a fair amount of frustration and are often depressed.
Running On Empty
But, as they are not aware of the fact that they are denying their own needs, they might not be able to join the dots, so to speak, and to work out why they feel this way. Their frustration will be there to let them know what something isn’t right.
As for being depressed, this can be a consequence of them not allowing themselves to experience their own anger; anger that will be there to notify them that they are continually compromising themselves. Also, being there for others whilst neglecting themselves is going to stop them from receiving what they need to receive to truly thrive.
A Helpless Place
There can be times when they feel totally powerless and as though they have no control over their life; it could be as if someone or something “out there” is in control. If they were to spend time with another person who is able to get their needs met, they could believe that they have something that they themselves don’t have.
Now, if one was able to take a step back from their experience and to imagine what it would be like for them to get their needs met, they could experience a sense of relief and feel good. After a while, though, this could change.
What they could find is that revealing their needs causes them to feel very uncomfortable. They could feel deeply ashamed and guilty and fear that they will be rejected and abandoned.
Also, simply connecting to their needs could cause them to feel heavy and trapped. What is going on might not make any sense to their conscious mind as this part of them will have forgotten all about why they don’t have a healthy relationship with their needs.
What this can illustrate is that their needs were rarely, if ever, met, during their early years, which would have caused them to develop an unhealthy relationship with them. This may have been a time when they were often abused and/or neglected.
After being frustrated by their attempts to have their needs met, they would have ended up disconnecting from them. Furthermore, they would have come to believe that there was something inherently wrong with their needs and that, to survive, they had to ignore them.
A Brutal Experience
Not having their needs met would have been very painful, yet, trying to fulfil their needs would have caused them to experience even more pain. Disconnecting from their needs would have automatically taken place, with this being a way for them to defend against the pain that they would have experienced if they had embraced them.
The needs that they had, needed to be met so that they could grow and develop and so, not getting them met would have caused them to be developmentally stunted. Their caregivers, thanks to their own issues, would have most likely seen their needs as a burden and this would have been the message that one (their child) would have internalised.
It is through having these needs met that one would have been able to grow into an interdependent adult. As this didn’t take place, then, they will have two ways of operating; either acting needless (being counter-dependent) or, and perhaps this seldom happens, being extremely needy (being dependent).
Ultimately, the needs that they had at this stage of their life were not bad; they were just part of being a dependent child. Therefore, the guilt and shame that they experience in relation to their needs, is merely a reflection of how their caregivers responded to them and is not a sign that their needs are inherently bad.
If one can relate to this, and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can take place with the assistance of a therapist or healer.
This is likely to be a time when one will be questioning the meaning that was made at this stage of their life, the meaning that has defined how they see themselves, and grieving unmet childhood needs.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 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.