We all have basic human needs as individuals. Most of us would agree that we need food, sleep, and water and some agree we need love and friendship. I would venture to guess that beyond those basic needs, many people are sleep-walking through life without ever giving pause to what THEY or WE actually need from each other.
Lots of therapy has helped me realize that other people in my life don't automatically KNOW what I need or expect from them. I must let them know what I need. I have also come to realize that no ONE person in my life could possibly fill or meet all of my needs. It is humanly impossible to meet all the needs of another human by oneself. It truly does take a village.
Once we have identified our needs, we can start to look at the players on our team and realize who is filling which need in our life. Some fill multiple needs. Others fill one need or don't fill a need at all, but instead may be causing stress or toxicity. Perhaps "trimming the fat" is in order when it comes to our circle of loved ones. I have also learned that not all of us are CAPABLE or WILLING to meet certain needs of others, and that too can be a painful process of acceptance and growth.
So, let's roll up our sleeves and look closely at the basic human needs of each person roaming around this earth. Let us make a list of the members of our circle and try to identify who fills which need(s). There are several reasons this is important:
This is real adulting. Grown up stuff. Hard stuff. Deep stuff. So get ready.
photo credit: childhoodtraumarecovery.com
Let us look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs from a current-day real-life perspective and add the context of relationships and connection to those needs:
I don't have many patients that walk into my office and tell me they have needs.
Instead, they tell me they are sad. They are withdrawing from friends or family. They can't sleep. They don't feel good. The have mood swings or anger outbursts. They are no longer excited about life.
Medication cannot "fix" some of these painful circumstances we are all facing in our lives. An SSRI (most commonly used class of anti-depressants) cannot make your spouse SEE you or try to meet your needs. It cannot heal decade-old wounds from your narcissistic mother. It cannot jump into your best friend's mind and tell her that she is hurting you with her words or actions. Nor can it walk into your adult child's house and announce that YOU are a person, too, and that you need love and respect.
So many of these issues have been around so long in your life that you don't know where to begin to address them. I encourage you to seek counseling if and when you can. A good therapist really can change your life.
In the meantime, write down YOUR needs. List what needs are being met and which are not being met. Jot down WHO is helping to meet those needs and make a mental note of who you really can count on in which needs department. Use your resources - your people - when you are in crisis. Learn to NOT go to the ones who have not or cannot meet certain needs so that you avoid further hurt and disappointment. And consider having a conversation with your loved one if the opportunity ever arises and the setting and timing are conducive to growth. We cannot read minds, and we are all flawed. This relationship and self-evaluation work isn't easy, but it is worth it.