Having needs is part of being human, and while the ideal might be to always have them met, this is not how life works. There will be times when it is not going to be possible for one to have their needs met.
During these moments, one will have to tolerate frustration, and while it may only be a matter of time before their needs are met, it may be a sign that they need to try a different approach. For instance, one may look towards others to fulfil the kind of needs that only they can meet.
On one side, there is what could be described as unmet childhood needs, and on the other side, there is what could be described as adult needs. This is not to say that they are completely separate though, as one’s adult needs can be effect by their unmet childhood needs.
As an adult, it is going to be normal for one to have the need to be appreciated by others, for instance. But if this need wasn’t met during their childhood years, it might not matter how much people appreciate them.
This is because unmet childhood needs are like black holes, and so it won’t be possible for other adults to fulfil this need or any other unmet childhood need. When it comes to these needs, one will need process the pain that they experienced through not getting them met.
One way this can take place is through crying out the pain that is within them, and along with this, it might also be important for them to be around people who will affirm them. This then means that this can be a process of letting go of the pain and receiving the positive regard that they missed out on all those years ago.
When one feels ‘needy’ or if they come across someone else who is, this could be a sign that they have unmet childhood needs to mourn. They could then be in a position where they are able to receive, but no matter how much they receive, it is never enough.
Having said that, one could also be in a position where it is not possible for them to receive, and because they can’t receive, they end up feeling needy. If this is how one experiences life, it could also be a sign that it wasn’t safe for them to have their needs met during their childhood.
Their needs would then have been overlooked, and one may have ended up looking after their caregivers needs instead. One can then grow up to feel ashamed of their needs, and it is then going to be normal for them to cover them up.
One thing that this can then cause them to do is to become a ‘caretaker’, and to meet other people’s needs as a way for other people to meet theirs. As a result of this, one can come across as selfless; but this is nothing more than a false-self they have developed in order to survive.
It is then going to be important for them to maintain this image at all times, and this is because if people were aware of their needs, it would cause them to experience shame. And while there may be times when this allows them to get their needs met, it is unlikely to be something that happens very often.
But even though they want to have their needs met, they are unlikely to feel as though it is safe for them to have them met. The only thing that may feel safe is for them to hide their own needs and carry on being there for others.
Therefore, as there can be one’s adult needs and the needs that were not met during their childhood years, it can be easy to see why relationships can end up being so emotionally charged.
For example, one could feel as though someone else wasn’t there for them in some way, and this could cause them to have a strong emotional reaction. Or they could be with someone who feels as though they were not there for them, and they could end up having a strong emotional reaction.
When this takes place and one feels as though someone else has let them down in some way, they can end up coming across aggressively. In this case, it is likely to show that they are out of touch with how they feel as a deeper level.
It could also be said that they are acting as though they are entitled to having what they want, and as one is an adult, it is going to mean that the other person doesn’t owe them anything. The reason the other person is there is likely to be through choice, and not because they have to be there.
As a result of this, one will have regressed to a wounded child, and it is not going to be possible for them to see that the other person is a separate individual. A more conscious approach would be for them to get in touch with how they feel as opposed to losing control.
And while this kind of behaviour may cause the other person do what they want out of fear, it may also cause them to pull away. If the other person respects themselves and this is something that happens on a regular basis, it could cause them to walk away.
Through experiencing aggression, it will allow one to feel a sense of power, and this means they won’t have to face how they feel at a deeper level. If they were to contain their aggression instead of directing it outwards, they may find that they start to experience toxic shame.
When they feel this, it is not going to be possible for them to feel strong, and this is because it will cause them to collapse. In this sense, they can believe that they can become aggressive and rise up, or they can get in touch with their toxic shame and fall down.
The toxic shame that they experience may have been caused by what took place during their childhood years, and this could be a sign that they were neglected and/or abused. If this is the case, their aggressive behaviour could be fuelled by the rage that they experienced through not getting their needs met during these early years.
It is then going to be important for them to work through the pain that is within them. This is something that can take place with the assistance of a therapist and/or a support group.
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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.