schoolpsychnerd: (freud)
schoolpsychnerd ([personal profile] schoolpsychnerd) wrote2016-01-31 08:18 am

Having Needs vs. Being Needy

In my recovery I've gotten a lot better at identifying feelings. I've also improved in feeling them, or rather letting myself feel them. One area where I have a lot of room for growth is listening to what those feelings are telling me. It's been a interesting insight for me that I reject what I'm feeling the most because it's telling me that I have a need that isn't being met. I struggle with not only identifying my needs but also in asking for them. I have a hard time differentiating between "I have needs" and "I am needy".

I had a realization about how I view needs at a Cuddle Party I attended. At Cuddle Parties the facilitator establishes a safe space to express your boundaries and needs. You do not have to hug or cuddle or touch anyone in any way you don't want to and their response is "Thank you for taking care of you" when someone says no. I asked someone for a hug, they said no, I responded "Thank you for taking care of you" and was really caught off guard by how much shame I felt for asking (guilt is when we legit do something wrong that leads us to better behavior, shame is well, shame. Seriously, Brene Brown, go read her books). I thought this person must have thought I was creepy, I was too much, I had clearly created a bad vibe. Most importantly I had failed to psychically predict someone else (who I had never met's) boundary. Plus boundary setting is important and healthy and I want to be someone who it is safe to say "no" to. And my own fear of being "needy" can get in the way of that. I'll act out, I'll isolate, I'll self-flagellate about how terrible it was that I even asked. And some people who I know very well have seen me just shut down completely and go full "I'm erasing myself from the narrative" (meaning I like avoid them for days and just do not engage because I'm convinced I've hurt them by asking for soemthing they said no to). I want to be someone who helps those around me feel empowered to ask for what they need, even if what they need is to not meet my need and until I really get at why I have this shame reaction to "no", it's going to be a lot harder.

In my digging, I've realized the shame comes from how I view my own needs. As someone with Anorexia, I worry a lot about taking up too much space (emotional, mental, or physical), and even meeting my basic needs like "get enough energy units to not die" get sneered at by me. I've spent many, many years delegitmizing my own needs. I want to take all of this on myself because then it means I have total control of the situation and I don't. I can do something about it now, but there is also space to recognize factors that are beyond my control in how my fear of need developed.

First there's the way we're taught to think about "want vs. need". In spite of knowing Maslow's hierarchy of needs like the back of my hand, I really only view things like "shelter and sanitation" as needs (yeah, still working on seeing food as a personal basic need). I tend to see things like love, affection, self-worth, belonging, acceptance, self-acceptance, as wants. I tell myself I don't need these things to live becuase I biologically won't die if no one hugs me (though I think [ profile] dorchadas would disagree). So I start out already being skeptical of most human needs beyond basic shelter and sanitation.

One of the things I realize is so scary for me about needs is the fear of being needy. Some of it comes from patriarchy, women who have needs at all can easily be labled needy. Some of it is my own lacking self-worth. I grew up ugly and wasn't seen as being too smart for a long time either. Since I wasn't having sex until marriage at the time, the only thing I told myself I could offer in a relationship was to 1.) make sure my partner's needs were always met even if they never said them and 2.) Never be needy. Of course this came out very sideways may times. It did involve me hoping someone would read my mind and know what I need. I do think part of this relates to the beliefe that women want men to read their minds. We're taught that asking for what we want is needy so the only socially acceptable way in our current society is for a person to "just know". I also can imagine growing up and taking on the therapist/ caregiver role in my house played a role. Later after I learned therapist skills I told myself that was why people liked me and decided to mostly be a one-way mirror in my friendships. This led to a lot of resentment on my part towards people who had done nothing wrong.

The point of this is that, much like securing your oxygen mask before you help others, I have to accept my needs before I can really be available for others. I have to accept my own ability to say "no" when someone asks something that I'm not avialable for at that time before I can accept others "no". I have to remove a lot of the shame and baggage I associate with being a human who is trying to more fully partiticpate and engage with the world. "No" doesn't mean I'm needy or bad or awful or selfish automatically. And if someone does say I'm needy I can do what I should do with any feedback, look at it critically, do some self-examination, consider the source, look at my behavior, and determine if it's feedback I need to hold onto. I tend to accept everything someone says as gospel truth because I struggle to trust my own sense of self. I can listen to others without owning their view of my story. And by trying to control who tells my story and how they tell it, I really end up hurting everyone.

[identity profile] 2016-02-02 03:54 am (UTC)(link)
It's something I struggle with as well. I tend to end up in the don't ask for things mode which often leads to unfulfilled needs, especially for socialization. I struggle particularly with asking specific people for things, instead resorting to asking generally if anyone is able to provide something. Of course, then I need to find a place for such a request, which has its own struggles.