Our relationship with our own needs
As we reflect on how we’ve come to be, we realize that we were formed by our needs. What relationship do we have with our own needs? Are we even aware of them? Can we admit our needs? Do we feel self-indulgent or deprived? Where do we take that need to get met or do we just hope that someone will eventually notice? Do we feel proud, comfortable, frightened or trapped by our needs? Do we trust our needs?
The thrust of our society is to fulfill all of our needs by ourselves. We like to think we are self-sufficient and don’t need anybody because needs make you dependent. Asking someone to meet your need is a risk that makes you vulnerable because maybe your request will be denied. When we express a need, we need to own the possibility that it can be rejected. We need to give others the freedom to say yes or no and not to be hurt by their decision. No one person can fulfill all your needs; so which needs can they meet and which can’t they?
What happens when needs aren’t met within us? Do we become shriveled, angry or resort to stubborn independence? Maybe we get used to not having certain needs met, so we compensate. Sometimes we have a need that is met by another, but we are still left unsatisfied. If our need was denied in an initial context, we go looking for it elsewhere. We often sabotage relationships with needs that come from another place. If we were denied love as a child, we can look for that love in a mate, but the love from this partner won’t stick. It will never be enough, and we will drive that person away.
Meeting needs is a healthy and necessary part of relationships; however, if our needs were never fulfilled or we tried to have them met inappropriately, then we become needy. Our neediness is our brokenness. Most of our dysfunction is caused from taking our appropriate needs to inappropriate places. What we tend to do is to want others to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. We don’t accept ourselves, so we long for another to tell us that we are okay. We don’t know how to love ourselves, so we desire someone else to love us.
You can never deny a need. You have to invite it in. If you deny it, you will only become needy. If you ignore it or push it away, it will never become healed. But we have to learn how to bring our needs to the appropriate places to have them met.
As a child, were we allowed to have needs or did we feel we had to fit into the family’s ethos? Were our needs acceptable? Within families certain emotions were acceptable and others were squashed. We need to dig and rebuild. We have to realize what was lost. If we felt we always had to be there for someone else’s needs, maybe we have been denying our own.
Our needs were often used to control us. ‘If you get good marks, then you can have a chocolate.’ Children realize they get their needs met only if they are good little boys and girls. The acceptance is conditional. As adults we play the same games with our needs. Needs are our economy and this is how you trade.
We can only really become ourselves when we are held. The origins of our identity is love. Our brokenness can become a gift if we change our attitude and embrace it.
What areas of your childhood needs were met? Which were thin? What do you need now in community?
Which of our needs do we take to God?
If you are a parent, what are you choosing to steal your time and energy that are preventing you from holding your children and meeting their needs? Hopefully every generation grows, as we realize that our children grow through the cracks of our parenting.