There is a fine line between meeting your own needs in a healthy sense and expecting to take everything around you. This is the fundamental line that many find difficult to navigate and feel guilt and shame when they try to think of themselves. Consequently, many people spend their life making sure everyone else is fine before them, seeking approval from outside and sacrificing their own needs. This breeds resentment that the world is not providing what one needs and instigates control and codependency issues.
In my experience, the vast majority of people like this are women. Women have been conditioned to become something from a codependent checklist for men who still want a wife who looks after him, house and home and children. Things might be changing slowly as women wake up to the equality issues we have in society but much of what we are speaking of is generational and as such ingrained in parenting styles.
Much of this indoctrination is aimed at subduing needs for the benefit of others. It is seen as positive and ‘nice’ to do so. It is prized as an attribute, as it is in the right degree and measure. However, what really stops us from asking for our needs to be met, even when sometimes the other people in our lives are fully prepared to do that? Let’s look at some likely reasons:
Habit: Once one is conditioned to believe that a certain idea is true, putting it into action becomes a habit and a familiar notion that we return to. The force of habit is very powerful and can be seen as a valid reason for subduing needs across different relationships. With new thinking, habits can be broken.
Thoughts about self: Many people label themselves selfish even ‘narcissist’ if they meet their own needs or ask for their needs to be met. Consequently, they live in a codependent fantasy of thinking they are not important. Having your needs met by yourself is a right that is perfectly fine to expect. In a relationship, this is balanced by meeting each other’s needs most of the time.
Fear and Assumption: The response from people around anyone asking for their needs to be met plays a major role in this process. Sometimes, it is not so good. Sometimes, they are unable or unwilling to grant our wishes. However, sometimes assumptions are made that predict the above without any real evidence to say so. The power of assumption will help us keep the fantasy going and we will stay quiet. There might also be a fear that people see us as ‘needy’ and ‘difficult’ and might potentially leave us.
Control: Lest we forget, codependency especially, is a lot about control. In this process, sacrificing and subduing needs is done to gain the return needed from the people around us. Doing this will, in the mind of a codependent, guarantee obligation and make them indispensable in the heart and mind of their ‘object’. These are people who choose consciously or unconsciously to use their needs as a ‘bargaining tool’ to get what they need.
Power Battles In Relationships: In some relationships with a certain dynamic, the meeting of needs is withdrawn as a punishment or tactical measure. These couples use this in a never-ending cycle of tit-for-tat, point scoring scenario that leads to neither getting what they need or want.
Next time you feel that your needs are not being met, ask yourself why. Are you actually meeting your own needs? Are you setting healthy boundaries? Are you asking for your needs to be met in a healthy way? Are you giving up the right to have your needs met for tactical or control purposes?
The meeting of your needs starts at your front door. Thinking of yourself and what you need in healthy measures apart from thinking about others as a default concept. Once you have met your own needs, there will be surely enough left for others.
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Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner’s approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients’ internal “parts,” or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.