MORE on the War (on needs)

by P. Braithwaite

A few months back, I wrote about needs. Specifically, I wrote about my needs. I wrote about how my best friend and my boo weren’t meeting my needs. In truth, I had just become aware that I actually had needs, and I was throwing them around with reckless abandon. I was imposing my needs on others, and it was causing problems.

In the blog, I wrote:

So I’m left with the faint feeling that my needs are wrong. Intuitively, I know they are not, but logistically I have a very hard time understanding this concept of “needs.” I know, after lots of therapy and self-help books, that it’s okay to have needs. I also know from lots of religious txts and new age books, “needs are an illusion…desire is the cause of suffering.”

Months later, I am still contemplating the role of needs. Should we have needs? Should we expect others to meet them? If others meet our needs, should we in turn meet there’s? I suspect that there’s a happy medium.

There are some needs that you can ask others to fill, and there are some that must be filled within ourselves. BUT, in asserting my needs, I must also respect the right for others to refuse to meet them. In asking to have a need met, we run the risk of failure.

I struggle with articulating my needs. It is much easier to shift my focus onto what others need without truly putting my own desires first. But doing this too much builds resentment, and resentment is bad for the soul. Often, I have to check in with myself — what do I really want from this situation? When I put aside the people-pleasing tendencies, what do I really need?

More often than not, I’ve found that the my requests I have from others are less about needs (love me, hug me, listen to me) and more about boundaries. My needs typically are things I can provide for myself IF I make some changes that impact others. For instance, my personal needs might require that I break a date or promise. My needs might require that I rework a routine. My needs are typically things I can fulfill myself, but sometimes they require an uncomfortable conversation. I have to advocate for myself.

It is very hard to put yourself first…and, in truth, meeting the needs of others often gives us joy. But I know, both from experience and books, that addressing our own needs makes us even more equipped to address the needs of others.

In the long run, everyone is happy.

So today, I’m reminded to check in with myself and figure out what I want. To take care of the needs I can, and to ask for help when I need support. From this place I can give and receive.

And so it is.