Longing for unconditional love and acceptance
Our core need as humans is to love and be loved. Since we need this so much, we may find ourselves going about it in a roundabout way, manipulating relationships in order to get our needs met. We may, for example, give to another, simply because we hope to get back from them what we are longing for. We may try to have our hunger met in undercover ways by saying something obtuse, but often people don’t think to give it back to us.
Our core desire remains undeniably strong, but as it passes through our multi-layered, complex selves, it gets distorted by these different layers. So our appropriate need gets expressed through inappropriate means. Someone might thus say, “I need love, but I have to control it.” Our survival/instinctual layer changes it from a simple, pure longing into something in which we cannot take a risk.
We are all looking for something to satisfy our desire but we over-complicate our lives and cause ourselves much distress in so doing. Our movement towards the other is no longer open and simple like that of a child.
In this journey of life, how have we acquired what we really needed? Early on we had little choice – we were either given an abundance of what we needed or it was limited. We learnt ways of managing getting our needs met and of avoiding what we didn’t want. Habits formed and grew in us as we developed into adults. Our life at this moment is about acquiring what we think will make us happy so we tend to get rid of what’s failed to do so – whatever or whoever has let us down.
Underlying all of this lies the question, ‘What do we really, really want?’ Like a diver diving down deep for pearls, we need to plumb the depths of our being. It’s how far down we’ve gone not how wide we’ve spread ourselves. We will need to avoid the trap of chasing after false needs, of thinking that more is necessarily better – the more we have, have done or experienced. We need to take our deepest needs seriously and come to say, “It’s not this…I can be free of that… All I want to gain is that ‘one pearl of great price’.”
We were all conceived by God in unconditional love and we look for it all our lives. As humans we can live more easily lacking food and water than we can with emotional deprivation. Far more damage is done to us by not having our deep need for presence met, than it does with our going without a meal. Owning our deepest needs is hard and does make us feel vulnerable. Many are defended against even having these needs and seeming weak to another. Thus our feelings will often control our behaviour, for our need might be pure, but the feelings of embarrassment or shame that we have around expressing it might be ambivalent. As we are unsure and can’t ask for it, we are left hungry – we choose to do without rather than to ask.
We each have the responsibility to ourselves and to others of sharpening our awareness of and expressing our deepest needs. These are actually our gifts of being wonderfully human. When we are in touch with them and are taking steps to articulate them and have them met appropriately, they do in fact lead us to find a true treasure.