What is the benefit in the need to pretend that one has no needs? Huh? The energy spent in pretending we have no needs is astonishing. But, sadly, it can be seen every day at work and at home. Let’s just cut to the core of the matter:
All humans have needs (ask Abraham Maslow if you don’t believe me)
The idea of being called “needy” is terrifying to most adults
Many of us were raised to be embarrassed by our needs, so therefore we may deny their very existence
Even if we have denied the needs, our unconscious will drive our behavior to get them met…and this wreaks havoc—on us, and those around us
Guess what? Everyone else can see our needs anyway!
It’s “cleaner” to identify each need and get it met appropriately, than to deny it
Since we were little, all of us have had encounters with rude, whiny, and demanding people. Our parents and teachers have pronounced that these folks are SELFISH. The lesson? “I don’t want to ever be talked about like that.” So, we proceed through life, ignoring, denying and dismissing our needs.
The punch line, though, is the needs do not go away. Psychologist Linda Berens notes that when needs are not met, an “individual is drained of energy and suffers dissatisfaction or stress.” Taking the responsibility to get one’s own needs identified and then satisfied is the opposite of being needy! It will renew your energy and remove your stress.
Here’s just such an example:
I coached a vice president of sales who had been enjoying great success in attaining her sales goals, but found herself feeling increasingly fussy and uninspired. Her frustrations were spilling out in work meetings and around her kitchen table, too. In questioning her about her activities, I learned that she is a master gardener. However, over the years, she had pruned back her time in the garden because of the demands from work. A-ha! In our coaching work, we were able to identify her unmet needs: to create beauty, order, and to be a master. She realized that returning to the garden would meet those needs in a more satisfactory way than expecting her sales force or children to meet them for her. Within weeks, her team noted that she was less prickly and more developmental in her leadership.
Returning to the garden suitably met a number of her needs…but she deserved to have ALL of her needs met. I asked her to consider where else her need for order could be satisfied. So, she decided to institute a family calendar in the kitchen, and the children chose their own color for the markers which would signify their disparate activities. She also concluded that the need to be a master is more graciously attained in the garden than in her book club.
How about you?
Think about a recent time when you found yourself behaving in a way you really can’t explain or disregard. Now, grab your pencil and start answering the following questions:
- What was your behavior?
- What need was not getting met?
- What did it cost you in the eyes of others?
- If this need were met, how would you conduct yourself?
- Who can help you to get this need met?