I am lying there in bed, dying to be cuddled, adored, loved…. He is oh so distant all the way on the other side of the bed. It hurts, I feel more alone than if I was alone. Any efforts to bring him closer to me is likely to be rejected because he can sense that I am feeling NEEDY and he is reacting through retreating into his own space.
This had become a re occurring horror story showing up in my intimate relationships. Sometimes it had looked like this. Other times it has showed itself when I was single in the form of incredibly strong waves or insecurity and the sense of needing validation that I am attractive, wanted, worthy….
I had to accept that there is a part of me, which is, incredibly needy!
Neediness sucks; literally and figuratively…It feels like a bottomless pit of hopelessness. It keep us running, looking for ways to escape feeling this horrible feeling, It takes us to that deep vulnerable place where we believe that we are not enough and therefore need to suck up love and validation from others to fill the vacuum within.
This feeling of needing could be attributed to the kind of men that I attract and their own issues. But at the same time, after seeing a repeat pattern, I could not deny that this has got something to do with ME. So I have taken the opportunity to ‘get to know’ my own neediness in order to learn more about how I can relate to others from a place of fullness,
rather than lack.
This is not just about me, this is about all women (and really...ALL men and women, we all have our stories of needs unmet). Every woman who I shared my shameful neediness story has sighed deeply and said something to the effect of ‘Neediness! I have that too! Isn’t it awful?’. Because of this I feel strongly impelled to share my exploration of neediness, how to accept it and how to somehow find the lessons and the gifts within it.
And it is about me, it is about a baby who did not get breastfed, it is about a little girl who might not have received her daddy’s attention when she wanted it, or a growing teenager who was ‘dumped’ by her first boyfriend. I may have grown and developed and discovered a ‘me’ who is self-sufficient and feels pretty damn worthy too. But the fact is, those parts of me who still yearn for what they did not receive live on, and sooner or later (and particularly in the context of relationship) they crawl up to the surface and begs for attention.
You probably know this. It is that pain that comes when we really really want something, and we do not get it. Imagine all the times in your life, particularly in the years 0-7, when you have felt an overwhelming need, and for whatever reason, you did not get it. This place in you can live on, still needing, still craving. It is a deep space of lack, like a vacuum, with a power so strong that we will probably either try and ignore it, or seek to shut it up by offering it what we think it wants.
The truth is that that needy part of us, even when inactivated, even when it has taken a back seat and the self-sufficient/ proud/ successful/ attractive person, may be in the drivers seat, the needy little baby may still in the background, and is in some way running the show. It keeps us searching for love, for recognition, for success. We all have our different versions of which direction our neediness travel out of us to look for fresh blood to meet the deeply felt, unmet needs of our inner sense of lack.
Eckart Tolles work around the pain body, which he notes is particularly strong in women, is one of the most satisfying interpretations on how this needy mechanism works in us. He explains that our emotional issues stay held in our energy bodies in the form of what he calls pain bodies. And that these pain bodies love to be fed by similar painful experiences in order to stay alive and well, in short those needy parts will keep on creating opportunities to feel needy in order to keep the neediness alive and well. It is a tricky situation really, but it is also an opportunity for learning and growth, here is what I have found to be useful and necessary in learning to be with neediness.
#1 Accept it
That sounds easy doesn’t it? Well its not. I noticed that when the needy feelings in me were activated that they were accompanied with an inner cringe…
Who wants to be a needy baby when you are grown woman? And gosh! What a turn off for any man that may be on the scene, or any prospective men for that matter?
When this pattern first revealed itself I quickly moved right into ‘ I–am-a-strong –woman-and-I-can-cope-with-this-myself-thank you-very-much’ mode (in reaction to the response of the man involved, which was to withdraw).
Neediness is often locked in with shame
Yes, I felt so ashamed of this part of me, so NO…number 1 is not an easy one to get your head and heart around but as a super wise man in my life ( and a past lover who had the luxury of getting to know my inner needy person) told me; “If you cannot accept your neediness, how can you expect anyone else to?”
So acceptance comes first, acceptance is shown in our ability to stay with those feelings without denying them, judging them or overriding them. Instead of cringing there needs to be an opening from our hearts to receive the pain held in the core of the neediness.
This is like a meditation practice with our own emotional experience as the focus; we have to exercise our compassion muscle and ability to stay really present and open to our experience without judging it, suppressing it, or denying it.
This is an ability that we can learn , through practice and dedication and with lots of compassion for humanity, and how that humanity expresses itself through us.
#2 Don’t get distracted by THE STORY
The tricky thing is that in an effort to get away from these difficult feelings, our minds are probably going to jump right into a story about how think things should be different in order to distract ourselves and make the horrible feeling of neediness go away….
The story might say something to the effect of…
‘ Why doesn’t he love me?
‘What is wrong with me?’
‘Why doesn’t he give me what I need?’
If you do not have a partner that you are projecting your stuff on to it might jump onto a different thought form like;
‘Why am I not attractive or successful enough to attract a partner?’
It might say
‘ I need to lose some weight so I can be attractive and loveable’
And it is likely that it will ask for things to ease the pain…..
‘ Give me chocolate’! ( or some other form of distraction....
It is important to take the focus OFF a story from the past, why you think you or someone else should change or an intricate plan on how you are going to get your needs met and LEARN TO BE OK WITH YOUR NEED!!!!
In short, stop looking out and start looking in for the answers.
#3 Give it presence, not chocolate.
The neediness, as difficult as it might be to acknowledge, really wants attention, not another distraction…..
It might be asking for a hug, or a compliment, or a piece of chocolate, but what does it really want? You will have to check this out for yourself, but what you will probably find that it wants presence.
When you notice the feeling of neediness arise, offer it your presence, in the form of your breath. This is the key. The breath keeps you in your body. Through staying attentive to what is going on in your body, and exploring the feelings, and breathing into it, you offer your presence and understanding to that sense of lack, where it is held in your body.
It wants to be seen and not rejected; it wants the opportunity to feel its feelings without being turned away from. It wants compassion and it needs you to be patient with it. When those feeling are UP, you can offer them the gift of attention and ask that hurt, unmet place 'what do you need?' and be open to meet her where she is at through breathing, feeling, loving and filing up from within.
When the neediness is met with loving presence it is able to transform.
#4 Sourcing from within
The truth is that love lives inside of us...
We are the source of love. And even if it is great and deeply healing to receive love from the outside, this can only be truly received in a sustainable and healthy way when we are connected to the love within ourselves. Basically, love from outside needs to be an extra-not what we rely on for our own self worth.
For women, this is something we really need to work with, this ability to source from within, to feed from our own feminine fountain of love and nourishment, and to let this feed all the parts of ourselves who are hungry.
But remember…overcoming neediness is a work in progress; it takes compassion, patience and dedication to tap into the FULLNESS within you.
Exploring your neediness can be a rocky road! If you feel the need for some support in exploring patterns of neediness and the issues that come up in the process. Then I would be really happy to help! Book in a free 20 min consultation here
Perhaps, like me you will need to get very intimate with your neediness before you can heal this deep sense of lack and reclaim this connection.
Overcoming neediness is a powerful journey; it invites you to make friends with yourself in a way that is truly profound. It encourages you to discover that you are connected to the ultimate source of love, and to come back to that place beyond need, and live from there.
The kind of situation that I described at the beginning of this article, was painful to experience but served as a motivation for me to work with these needy parts of myself. About 3 years later I was held by a beautiful man as he covered me kisses and told me "It is totally ok to be needy". Since then I have attracted men who are able to hold and love me in all expressions and I know this has come as a result of the 'work' I have done , bringing presence and acceptance to my 'neediness'.