Relationships: Is Grieving Our Unmet Childhood Needs An Important Part Of Having Healthy Relationships?
While one can have the need to experience relationships that are fulfilling and life affirming, it doesn’t mean that this is what takes place. Instead, one can end up in relationships that are not only unfulfilling, they could also be extremely abusive.
And if this was an area of life that had little, if any, significance, it wouldn’t matter what ones relationships were like. But as relationships are the bedrock of one’s life, this is not an area that they can simply overlook.
This doesn’t mean that one will always face their relationships challenges head on; as they may end up doing everything they can do avoid them. In the short-term, this might allow them to feel better, but in the long-term, their problems are likely to get worse.
While human beings live on the same planet, their experiences on this planet are not the same. For instance, some people are going to be in a position where they have relationships that are generally fulfilling and this might be how it has always been.
There are going to be other people who are in the same position, but while this is what is normal now, it is something they have had to work hard for. As a result of this, they could have a greater appreciation for what they have, as they know what it’s like to be on the other side.
There is then going to be other people who are used to having relationships that are far from fulfilling. This could be what is normal, and the only thing they have ever known. And while this is not how they would like their life to be, it could be seen as the only option they have.
This doesn’t mean that one will never get their hopes up, as they could meet someone who they think is different, or the person they’re with could create the impression that they will change. But in both cases, the outcome may well be the same and one is back where they started.
One could then come to the conclusion that there is something inherently wrong with them and there is nothing they can do. Other people could be seen as having something they don’t or one might believe that they are just ‘unlucky’.
When ones life is not going to plan, it is normal for their mind to come up with all kinds of reason as to why that is. These reasons might reflect reality and yet, they could have no basis in reality.
The Story Maker
Ultimately, the mind is the story maker and there is no limit to what it can come up with. So while one could believe that the reason they are unable to attract the relationships they desire is because of what is taking place externally, it could be the result of what is taking place within oneself.
What is taking place externally is then a reflection of what is taking place in one’s body, but if one is out of touch with their body, they’re unlikely to see this connection. The mind can cause can one to believe that they are just the observers of their reality and that they’re therefore victims. However, when one is in touch with their body and aware of how they feel, they will soon see this is not the case.
The Same Old Story
So when one has relationships that are unfulfilling, they might become aware of a certain pattern. Perhaps one is constantly attracted to people who are unavailable in some way and/or who’re unable to love them. They’re then used to looking for love in all the wrong places.
It could be that one is attracted to people who are controlling or abusive. At first, they may come across as being: loving, kind and even generous, and then as time passes, the mask drops and their true nature appears.
A Common Approach
If one reached out for support, they mind end up being told that they need to deal with their beliefs. As the reason they keep attracting these kinds of people is because of what they believe.
This would be classed as a top down approach and it would only relate to the mind. It wouldn’t give one any insight as to what is going on in their body. If one is having these experiences, they’re bound to have beliefs that are far for supportive.
However, what is going on in one’s mind and therefore the thoughts and beliefs they have, can be the result of what is taking place in their body. This is because ones thoughts and beliefs do not always define how they feel; their thoughts and beliefs can be a consequence of how they feel.
When one disconnects from how they feel and this is what often happens when how they feel is too painful to face, it doesn’t just disappear, it stays trapped in their body. And this can relate to the pain that one experienced as a baby, a child and throughout their adult life.
Unmet Childhood Needs
During ones childhood years, they may have had moments where their needs were ignored, or it might have been far worse. This could have been a time where ones needs were rarely, if ever, met.
And although one is no longer a baby or a child, what happened during these years can be the driving force behind their behaviour as an adult. It is then no longer ones caregivers who are not meeting their needs; it is the people they come into contact with as an adult.
A Deeper level
At a deeper level, one is repeating the past and is looking towards other adults to give them what their caregivers couldn’t. This is not something that happens consciously, as one is unlikely to be aware of it.
And in a lot of cases, these will be needs that no other adult can fulfil. This part of oneself is looking towards others to fulfil these needs and although the same thing happens over and over again, to face this truth is likely to be extremely painful.
If one was to face their pain of not getting their needs met during their childhood, it will be painful, but it won’t last forever, whereas, if one doesn’t face this pain, they are going to continue to attract the same people into their life and to have the same relational experiences.
And as one grieves their unmet childhood needs, their beliefs will change and so will their thoughts. This shows it is not about changing anything, it is simply about facing ones pain.
So along with the grief, is likely to be: loss, shame, powerlessness, hopelessness, helplessness and even death. As one faces these feelings and feels them to completion, their relationships will begin to change. This can be done with the assistance of a therapist or healer.
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Oliver J R Cooper
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.