How to Meet Needs
Imagine a young boy playing in his room, making noises and sounds. Mom is sleeping in, tired from work. She asks him to be quiet but the he doesn’t understand why he should be quiet. After a while she enters his room, and he is immediately excited, showing her what he has created. But instead of being excited she spanks him. The child now learns that play, creating and making noise is dangerous. If it’s continuous he will learn, over time, that taking up space is not rewarded.
This is the seed that grows into self-hate: There must be something wrong with me. That’s why they are treating me this way. It’s my fault. It’s not their fault.
In the child’s mind there can’t be anything wrong with the parents because survival depends on them. The child identifies with the parents, or any authority figure, who can’t meet their need. They are right. I’m bad for being this way.
When the adult instead meets the child’s needs, the child can grow up with a foundation of self-love. If not, the grown-up child is divided in two. The parents who rejected it and the child who needs validation. It’s a divide.
“At seventeen, I started to starve myself
I thought that love was a kind of emptiness
And at least I understood then the hunger I felt
And I didn’t have to call it loneliness”
– Florence and the machine
Here are some common unmet needs and the following self-hate behaviors.
Maybe you were afraid of being labeled incompetent and inadequate when you were a child and still feel that way on a subconscious level. Your need of being accepted, seen or validated was neglected.
Maybe you learned that love comes your way when others feel sorry for you. Maybe you were afraid of going unnoticed and unloved, of being considered meaningless and unimportant, of not mattering to others. And you still feel this way subconsciously. Your need of being loved, guided, accepted, seen or validated was neglected.
Maybe you learned that there are negative feelings and they are bad and dangerous. This makes it painful to be present with others and their feelings. Excluding yourself from feeling – what better way to avoid being excluded than to exclude yourself in the first place? On a subconscious level, you are afraid of getting too close to others and your own feelings and are left with a feeling of meaninglessness. Your need of being validated was neglected. “ I see that you are sad and that is ok. I hear that you are angry. It’s ok but you don’t have to be.”
Maybe you were taught that being delicate, fragile, and sensitive is a bad thing. On the other hand, strength is an attractive attribute, one to be cultivated. On a subconscious level, this breeds a fear of weakness, of feelings, of tears and loss of control. Your need of being vulnerable was neglected and to be accepted and loved for being true to your feelings.
Maybe you learned or inherited the belief that the only way to belong with others is to talk behind other people’s backs. Back-stabbing is your currency to belonging. You connected with others by looking down on other people or situations. Or maybe you learned that if you judge someone first, noting all the differences between you, then they won’t have the chance to judge you or exclude you. You’re out of their reach. Subconsciously, you’re afraid of being unimportant, meaningless, invisible, unnoticed, and unloved. Your need of being loved unconditional was neglected.
Maybe you learned or inherited the belief that angry people are dangerous. Or maybe your parents were emotionally unavailable, and the only way you could get their love and attention was to adjust yourself according to them. To position yourself in a certain way. This stagnated fear of resentment, of not being liked, of angry people, of being excluded, of not mattering to others, is expressed in your behavior. As the entertainer, you are vying for people’s attention, only at peace when everyone is at peace with you. All of your emotional needs were neglected, and your purpose was to meet your parents need.
Maybe you are self-made, maybe you learned that by creating a sense of order on your own as a child, you were able to survive. Because of your capacity to control and run things, you have created a good life for yourself. This may stem from a fear of losing your grip to sadness of being abandoned. Some of your need of guidelines, security, routines and being unconditionally / accepted and loved was neglected.
Maybe you were invisible as a child. Maybe your younger sibling got all the attention, maybe you learned to exaggerate in order to be seen and loved. When you expressed yourself from a neutral position, you weren’t taken seriously. You needed to pull out all the stops in order to be listened to, responded to, and respected for what you were going through. Maybe you even learned that if you fabricated the truth just a little bit, peppering it with a few white lies, your chances of being seen were that much better. When you exaggerated and lied, you captured the attention of those you wanted to be seen by – and that was the only way you learned to be seen and acknowledged, and in turn loved and understood. Now, you are unaware of the fact that you exaggerate and even lie your way through your days. Your need of being seen and accepted was neglected.
Exercise – How to get to know your needs.
Close your eyes.
Focus on your heart. Imagine your heart as any form of spirit that can talk. Let your intuition and imagination lead you to the spirit.
Ask the spirit – What do I need right now? See if you can feel, see or hear the answer. It can come up as a sensation, word, picture or something else.
Allow yourself patience, compassion and time.
Listen to the answers.
This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.