Managing NeedBy Phyllis Stein, Ph.D.
December 08, 2008
Unmet needs for love never go away until we recognize that they are and always were legitimate and essential. Inner Bonding allows us to finally meet this unmet need.
We are born with the fundamental need to be loved. This need is so strongly tied with our survival that when it is not met, we are programmed to respond with pain and extreme distress. It is an emergency and the alarm bells go off. When the need for love is not met, the need does not go away, instead it becomes a problem, because the alarm bells keep on ringing long after we have forgotten why they are sounding.
We find many solutions to the problem. One major one is to decide that it is the need itself, rather than the fact that was not met that is causing our pain and is therefore the problem. We try to solve this problem, then, by shaming and blaming ourselves, often with the help of our caregivers, for having needs, because facing the fact that we have these needs and that we cannot get them met is unbearable. We decide that if we only did not need love, paradoxically, we would be okay, or at least pain-free. We decide that love does not really exist anyway, so there is no use needing it. Depending on the level of deprivation, some of us, literally, are starving inside. We try to fill the starving child in different ways, including stuffing him or her with food to try to make the starving feeling stop.
Children who are desperately hungry for love are extremely vulnerable. They are easy targets for wounded people who can exploit them for their own purposes by offering what looks like affection. This is the scenario for many cases of sexual abuse. The consequences are devastating because the child involved senses that this all happened because he or she needed love, that if he or she had not needed love, nothing would have happened. That this all happened because the child tried to get that need filled. Again, having the need becomes the problem, only this time the message is that having the need for love CAUSES people to do terrible things to you. So the child blames him or herself and resolves that needing love is the most dangerous thing there is. This is the deepest possible betrayal of the essence of a child.
The healing comes when we recognize that needing love is not a problem at all, that it is a beautiful part of being human. The healing comes when we realize that the child inside us whose alarm bells are still going off is not bad or wrong or even too much, that he or she is completely entitled to be loved and that love is real. The healing comes when we realize that there is and always was a source of love, infinite and freely available and in realizing that we finally fill the unmet need. With the tools of Inner Bonding, it is never too late to turn off the alarm bells. It is never too late to finally be loved.
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Today, try an experiment. Focus all day on everything you are grateful for, and choose to have compassion rather than judgment for yourself and others. At the end of the day, notice how terrific you feel!
By Dr. Margaret Paul