Each one of us has wants and needs and yet that doesn’t mean that everyone is in touch with their wants and needs. It is also possible for someone to have wants and needs that are second hand and have nothing to do with what actually matters to them.
It could be that one actually believes that what they want and need is coming from within them, when in reality; they are simply the result of following other people. And then there will be other people who have no idea what they want or need and are well aware of that fact.
While they may follow others and do what other people do, it doesn’t mean that have come to accept this way of life. There could be a lot of inner conflict and resistance, to what they are or are not doing in life. For the people who are out of touch with themselves, but don’t know it, they are unlikely to have as much inner conflict and resistance.
In this case, there might be the rare occasion when they feel unfulfilled and yet it will often be covered up. What is gained through pleasing others may be enough to cover up the pain of not listening to themselves, at least in the short term.
However, whether one is aware of the fact that they are not in touch with their needs and wants of not, it is going to be extremely difficult to feel a deep sense of happiness and fulfilment.
It is through being in touch with these and acting upon them, that one can lead a life that is fulfilling, meaningful and empowering. If one is out of touch with what they need and want, it is going to be highly unlikely that they will feel that they are on track in life or that their life is worth living.
Now, for some people this could mean they are completely out of touch with what they want and need and for others; this could just be a minor challenge. And it is clear that when someone has no clue about what they want and need, that they are going to suffer.
They may feel that they are constantly compromising and pleasing others and while this may be true, they could be unaware of what they do want and need. Here, one can feel stuck and unable to do anything about their pain.
When one is completely out of touch with their needs and wants, they might even wonder if they really have any. As they are such a mystery to themselves, it may appear as though only other people have them. And all one can do is follow what other people suggest or are doing.
To look outside and to others for guidance in what one should or should not be doing is then normal. For if one has no connection to themselves, then what other options are there. And there are many voices out there that are only too willing to tell someone what to do. This can range from: individuals, governments, religions, cults and other organisations.
So this can lead to a whole host of consequences and some of these will be more noticeable than others. If one is in a relationship with someone out of approval and not because they are in sync with their true needs and wants, it is unlikely to be a fulfilling relationship. This could relate to: friends, colleagues, lovers and even family.
Another big area will be ones career or lack of and this will be affected in a number of ways. One could be doing something that has no meaning to them or go from one job to another, looking for what will bring them fulfilment.
Making decisions and taking action could also be an incredible challenge. For if one doesn’t know what they want or need, then how could they make a decision or take the right action.
There is often talk about goals and how one needs to have them in order to progress and move forward in life. And this can sound simple enough for some people, but for the person who is unaware of what they want and need, this can be extremely difficult to do.
So as one is out of touch with themselves, it can then become a self perpetuating cycle and one’s life either stays the same or moves very slowly.
This can cause one to feel: frustrated, angry, powerless, hopeless, depressed and cut off for example. One could feel different to others, but not in a way that makes them feel unique. Different in a way that means other people have something they do not have.
In some instances, this may have been something that occurred to someone as they got older. In the beginning, one may have thought that they knew what they wanted, but as time has passed, they have come to see that it has never fulfilled them.
And for others, this will be something that has been a challenge since they were young. It is not something that has just appeared, but how they have always felt.
One of the biggest factors in whether one is aware of what they need and want is how their primary caregiver responded to them during their early years.
These wants and needs are like a seed; if a seed is looked after it will typically grow. If the seed is ignored or forgotten about, it will have no choice but to stay as it is and therefore nothing will happen.
And ones needs and wants are very similar to this seed. They will not disappear or go away just because they are not given the right attention and care, but they won’t come to life either.
When ones caregiver is emotional aware, developed and in tune; they can respond to the Childs needs and wants. And this will allow the Childs needs and wants to gradually blossom. Through the caregiver responding to these needs and wants, the child begins to learn that they are important and that it is safe to have them
This is not to say that the caregiver will always respond to these needs and wants, but in the majority of cases they will.
However, when ones caregiver is emotionally unaware, undeveloped and out of tune; they are unlikely to respond to the Childs needs and wants. What they are likely to do is project their own unmet needs and wants onto the child. And as this happens, the child will have to deny and disconnect from their own wants and needs.
The child will have no choice, as its survival rests on pleasing the caregiver, so it will learn that it is not safe to have needs and wants. And that their needs and wants are not important; one will feel ashamed for having them. In this case the child has become the caregiver and the caregiver has become the child; often described as a role reversal.
As a child and then as an adult, one can end up being extremely good at knowing what other people want and need, but completely oblivious as to what their own needs and wants are. And as their formative years were about fulfilling other people’s needs and wants, this is not much of a surprise - it is to be expected.
One challenge that one can have when it comes to getting back in touch with themselves, is feeling that it is not safe to have wants and needs. During those early years, one will have experienced a lot of emotional pain through having to deny their needs and wants.
And this emotional pain could have become trapped in the body, as no one was there to regulate the pain. This means that the emotional pain can be creating an inner block and stopping one from connecting to what matters.
The emotional pain can be released through the assistance of a therapist or healer. And as this disappears, one will start to experience a better connection to themselves and gradually feel that it is safe to have needs and wants.
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.