by Cara Lumen
My friend was very, very lonely. Her marriage was failing, she didn’t feel very confident in herself and she was desperate to be with people who could affirm her ok-ness. When the doctor told her she should have back surgery right away she was so lonely that she chose to wait three months so she could go to her vacation home and play golf with the people she craved. And the doctor said, “If you feel any numbness come back right away.” She pushed her luck. Her emotional need overcame her logic.
She is still lonely, and is getting a divorce, and because of this huge need to be with people she is emotionally set on buying a house in a retirement community that may be too big an investment for her. But she perceives this environment as having lots of adult activities and thus a way to fill her loneliness so she didn’t even consider other options that might have been wiser for her future.
An unmet emotional need can overcome reason.
What needs are making choices for you?
There are physical needs, of course, that do need to be met – food, shelter, care of your health – but it’s the emotional needs that can push us into unreasonable choices.
Detaching the emotional need from the physical need may take a bit of doing.
For instance, the economy has changed and the business culture has changed. Whether it’s a job or an entrepreneurial venture, the choices we make now have to be different because the world is different. And to make good choices we need to understand our emotional needs and how they influence our choices.
Why are you in the job you are in? Why are you an entrepreneur? What emotional need is being fulfilled by your work, your relationships, your choices?
It is said we have four major needs: we want safety as in food and shelter, companionship and love, a sense of being worthy and a spiritual connection. You may choose to work in a company because you need companionship rather than work at home alone. You may be an entrepreneur because you can create results that make you feel worthy faster by yourself. You may be in service because you feel the spiritual value of actively helping others.
But what if the job goes away? What if the business stops? Will you feel fear, panic, lack of self-confidence? Will you want to give up? Or do you see unexpected change as an opportunity to reevaluate, reframe, explore your inner wisdom and look for the messages that are there to guide you to your next step?
What choices will your emotional needs suggest you make? And are they right ones for you?
Look for your core needs
If feeling safe by having food and shelter is your core need, then your current choice is to make the adjustments you need to live on what you have. Sell the house, get rid of the stuff, stop buying clothes, and start being thankful for what you DO have. Enjoy learning to cook economically, have a great time at the stay-at-home family nights. Count your blessings. Scaling back on what we have can actually enrich our appreciation of the most basic of possessions.
If you need companionship seek those who truly nourish you. Give and give and give to others. Go volunteer. Look for small acts of kindness you can offer others wherever you are. Sometimes a need for feeling loved leads us to select the wrong person. When we give ourselves the self-love we deserve we are not dependent on others to fill that need.
Go more deeply in service. See where you are needed and step in. Offer a small kindness. Offer a big kindness. Give, give, give. That’s how you experience the give and take of love.
When we learn to acknowledge ourselves for the job well done, we won’t need to look for the approval of others to make us feel valuable. We are in charge of our own life. We are in charge of how we see ourselves. We are in charge of how much we love ourselves.
Write your own acknowledgement list. Write down the positive things others say about you. Stop comparing yourself and know that you are unique in what you have to offer and go offer it.
When we move into a place of constant gratitude, we will begin to see the abundant blessings that flow our way and understand how we are guarded and guided along our path.
Take time to smell the flowers – literally. Watch a bud develop over time. Look at the intricacies of a blossom; understand that the same Universal Mind that created nature in all its intricacies created you. Feel that connection and make it real for you.
Fill your own needs
Once you identify the emotional needs that need filling, set about filling them. Focus on changing your own beliefs and your own attitudes
Learn to love yourself: When we learn to love and appreciate ourselves we will gain in self-confidence. Know and understand yourself and start giving yourself what you need. Set boundaries. Create a vision. Expect the best. Do not settle for second best.
Learn to relate to others: When we realize that everyone has a unique contribution to make, we no longer have a need or desire to control others or give them unsolicited advice. We will cease to be judgmental of the individual uniqueness in others. Become a gentle listener, a patient companion, a generous and kind friend.
Learn gratitude: When we learn to appreciate everything we have and give gratitude for it, we will not have the need to get more stuff just because someone else has it. Express your gratitude of others to them. Express your gratitude of yourself to you. Be aware of the goodness that surrounds you.
What emotional need is influencing your decisions, your actions, your choices? Do you need approval, feelings of self-worth, friendship, a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging? It may not be obvious at first but take some time to identify your needs. Then look to see how your need is influencing your choices – for better or worse.
© 2010 Cara Lumen