Fulfilling emotional needs: neediness vs. taking responsibility

It’s a Saturday evening. You are dancing at a wonderful party. Completely captured by the music you move without thinking. Your eyes are closed. Suddenly you realize there’s someone standing in front of you. Soft hands touch your arms and take a firm hold of your hands. You open your eyes and gaze into two beautiful brown eyes. You have never met the person before, yet you melt together in a dance that wakes up all your senses. Eventually, you get tired of dancing and sit down together, snuggled up in a corner. You exchange names but skip the chit chat. You dive into deep conversations and forget time and space completely. Suddenly the music stops and the lights switch on. It’s time to go home. You say goodbye with a smile and a kiss. All the way back home you feel like you are flying. What an amazing night! Filled with gratitude you look up the person’s name on the omniscient Facebook. There s/he is! You send a message, thanking the person for the amazing night you had.

That was three days ago and you haven’t received a message in return since.

We all have emotional needs we wish to fulfill:  feeling safe, nurtured, cared for, touched are a few examples. Making sure these needs are met is a primary drive in daily life; leaving them unfulfilled creates feelings of insecurity and discomfort. There are two basic ways to deal with our needs: taking responsibility for our own needs, or making others responsible for meeting our needs.

Insecurities

Despite of all the articles and books that have been written about getting rid of insecurities, shunting these feelings, I believe insecurities are something wonderful. They are the perfect guides of where you have needs to be fulfilled.

Feeling insecure about your body means, to me, that you don’t feel safe in your body. Your insecurity teaches you that your need for safety hasn’t been met completely. By working on your perception of your outer self, you can work on your need for feeling safe inside. The same goes for feeling insecure about finding true love for example. There’s an instinct deep in you that wants to create a new generation of humans. In order to do so, you need a mate. Feeling insecure about Mr/s Right is an indication your need for mating hasn’t been met. You can sleep with random people to create a suggestion of meeting this need, or you can work on the deeper, emotional layers around this insecurity.

Neediness

Each time you open Facebook you feel a little restless. Will there be a message? You’ve checked a zillion times and you know the person has read your message Sunday at 9.48AM. Maybe you should send another message. You think about Saturday night with mixed feelings. You shared such an amazing night and now you want more of that. Without the person responding you feel a void. An emptiness that only this person can fill.

When we experience neediness, we feel needy. We need other persons to make us feel good and fulfilled. Sensitive persons feel this clearly and call people feeding on neediness energy vampires. Energy vampires suck energy from others from a place of emptiness, trying to fill a void.

Neediness means that we make other people responsible for our well-being.

We depend on others to feel good: when other people do not live up to our expectations, we feel disappointed, empty, left alone, excluded. The truth is: they are most probably unaware of how you feel. You might connect with them, or react to them, from an emotional state of mind, surprising them with your emotions and creating a (re-)reaction in them. As you probably can image this brings you further and further away from your intended state of being together.

Neediness never works. Nobody is EVER responsible for how you feel. YOU are responsible for how you feel. Yes, situations in life are uncontrollable and you might encounter some pretty rough bumps on your road. But you always have a choice in how you react. Your partner might break up with you and you feel less than great. You can blame him or her for the harm that has been done to you, which is a very reactive way of dealing with the situation. You can run the victim story on how bad you were treated. But what if you could look inside yourself and figure out what it is that causes you to feel hurt? What if all the love, security, confirmation and safety you ever need is to be found within you?

Taking responsibility

Every now and then you think about that Saturday night with a heart full of joy. You feel happy you have sent a message because you felt you wanted to share your feelings. You feel a little sad that you didn’t receive a message back, but you realize that this emotion has nothing to do with the actions of this person. To you, it simply means that you welcome more touch and connection into your life. You know it’s up to you to realize that, and not anybody else’s. You decide to organize a movie night at your place next Saturday, inviting people who are into cuddling together with tea, chocolate and a nice movie.

Taking responsibility means taking action towards fulfilling your needs. When you realize you feel insecure about how you look in that dress, you simply ask someone for an honest opinion. And you deal with the reaction. That’s easy if they say you look stunning. But if they say you’d better wear another dress, would you curse the person for expressing their honest thoughts, or can you look within and deal with whatever emotion comes up inside you?

Taking responsibility means daring to express your thoughts and emotions honestly when you feel like you want to share them. It also means leaving no open ends in your communication. It can be so tempting and easy to give hints to other people and hoping they get your hidden message. It’s a vulnerable thing to express your desires clearly because the other person can reject your proposal. It helps me to think what would happen to me as a person when I get rejected. It makes me realize that actually… nothing would happen. I would still stand or sit there, still have the same values and principles and still have the same eye color.

Taking responsibility doesn’t mean that we never tolerate ourselves to feel neediness; it does mean that we know it is up to ourselves to fulfill the basic need underlying the feelings of neediness.

Think about it: when you feel ugly, a thousand people can say you look beautiful, but you will never really believe it. The only way to feel beautiful is by truly believing you are beautiful. Nobody can do that for you, it is something that has to come from within.

Taking responsibility is the only way to release neediness. By realizing it is up to you to fulfill your needs and desires, you release other people of their (unwanted) responsibilities and you don’t need them anymore for feeling fulfilled.

Choose where you (re)act from

When you become aware from which ground you want to connect or react to somebody – from a place of neediness or responsibility –, you have a choice. When you realize you are about to send a message to a person you like because you feel needy to get confirmation somebody (in the form of this person) likes you, you can decide not to send this message.

When you desire physical contact you can draw attention by running sad stories about how lonely you are, hoping someone gives you a hug and feeling bad when nobody picked up your clues. Or you can ask directly for that hug, taking the risk of being rejected. Another option would be to realize you need to take more quality time by yourself and spoil yourself with amazing food and that book you wanted to read for ages.

Letting go of the outcome

An important difference between neediness and taking responsibility is depending on the outcome. Can you express a desire or send a message and not depend on the outcome? If you do, there is neediness in you since the actions of the other person influence your wellbeing. If you can express your desire without attaching to the outcome, you can be pretty sure you released a lot of neediness.

It’s an interesting quest, figuring out the difference between neediness and expressing your desires from a place of responsibility when it comes to fulfilling emotional needs. You can ask yourself where you act or react from with every action you take, or don’t take, each day.

Do you experience neediness in areas of your life?

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