Getting Your Needs Met Without Being Needy

Getting Your Needs Met Without Being Needy

Having needs is not the same as being needy.  No man is an island.  And neither is a woman. We all have needs, but we don’t have to go about getting them met in a needy way. Most days as an adult, we can take care of many, but not all of our needs.  We probably didn’t build our own house, get the water to run indoors, or farm our own food.  Yet growing up into adulthood we acquire the belief that we should be able to take care of everything our self.  As a result we ignore the reality of our interdependence.  We might even believe the illusion that we can or do take care of all our own needs. This kind of false belief is likely to lead to unhappiness in areas of your life.

If you are trying to project that positive self-image, which is often done in relationships, expressing needs looks like a stain of weakness on the success image we try to convey.  Indeed, today’s western economy makes it possible to meet all our own physical survival needs by ourselves. We can earn enough money to provide water, food, shelter, and rest in comfortable fashion. At first glance, it looks like all our needs are met.  However, in order to be happy and fulfilled, we need to have other experiences other than survival and that requires we meet other needs in ways we might not have considered.

We are complex beings and therefore have different kinds of needs.

Emotionally, we have a need to love and be loved.  These can take many forms like respect, appreciation, compassion, laughter, or other emotions. At other times it will be necessary to be in touch with emotions like grief, sadness, anger, or remorse so they can be processed and released. Without allowing ourselves to experience these we repress them and cut ourselves off from all emotions, not just the unpleasant ones. Suppressing emotions keeps us from being fully present and feeling alive in the moment.

For a relationship to be satisfying it will need to have mutual support, affection, sexual satisfaction, play, fun.  It will also need to be emotionally safe with feelings of connection, respect, and appreciation.  You don’t need these things to survive, but you will need them to be happy in a relationship.  A client, Jason, was finding that he wasn’t getting the kind of intimate time he wanted with his girlfriend, Anna.  He asked her if they could spend time during the week with their phones off, just paying attention and listening to each other.  He also asked for more time being affectionate, cuddling, and relaxing together.  Anna laughed it off, saying Jason was just being needy. In Anna’s world of beliefs, which made her successful in a corporate environment, “needy” meant being pathetic, weak.  Not long after, Jason figured out that by having what he asked for dismiss and judged by Anna, that he didn’t really need Anna.

Our mind has its own needs. The mind needs to be creative and dream.  It needs to be exercised, inspired, and at times spontaneous so it doesn’t suffer in boredom.  At times it will be good to be challenged so we stretch, grow, and learn. We also may have a need for our mind to be quiet and peaceful at times so we can relax and rest.

The aspect of our Spirit has a need for a connection to something bigger, whether you call it the cosmos, nature, or something more divine. The path to this connection will feel like a need for freedom, adventure, or at times isolation.  The yearning for a connection to a greater consciousness can cause us to ache.  If we do not seek out this connection and activity, whether it be through something inward like meditation, or outward like camping or church, we will ache in an unfulfilled way.

At a soul level we may need a connection to a community, the earth, or our fellow human beings. Sometimes this need is satisfied with a sense of purpose or meaningful work. Sometimes this need gest satisfied with gardening.  If you don’t’ find this need met with your job or hobby, then you will have to pursue volunteering.  Perhaps this need of the soul is met with a contribution to a community, or harmony with others at church.

Judging Our Needs

If our ego is so intent on not needing anything from anybody, then we are minimizing the importance of our happiness in the areas that nurture our emotions, relationships, spirit, and soul. Our ego will point to a hard outer shell and feel good about being strong and independent. At the same time the voice in our head is busy telling us that these feelings on the inside are not important and that we are being pathetic and weak for having them. This kind of self judgment will create an emotional reaction of insecurity or shame that will need to be dissolved. Sometimes this kind of self-judgment gets compounded with a fear that others will think of us as needy because we have these feelings.  It is these kinds of contradicting stories in our head, one that says we are independent, and a contrary one that says we are weak, that are clues that we are out of our integrity.   Not only are we isolating ourselves from others in ways that we could connect, we are not satisfying these needs that are essential to be happy.

Judging these needs/desires as weak, pathetic, or dismissing them represses them.  When the needs of our soul, spirit, and emotional body are repressed we don’t take actions to have them met and parts of our being continue to hunger and ache. The outcome of this lack of action is that we won’t have what we need to love, feel loved, fulfilled, and happy. In this case we might not be allowing our self to feel our real needs enough.

Over a long time of repressing these very real needs our pain grows and we feel victimized and then become frustrated, agitated, and angry. At this point real needs fester into a neediness driven by the victim aspect of the ego feels and we might desperate. This is when we become the kind of needy other people don’t want to be around.

Good Needs and Dreaded “Being Needy”

As we look at having our needs met, we need to have an awareness of the difference between real needs, and victim needs of the ego or we will venture into suffering at the other extreme. A clue that you are crossing the line from good needs into destructive needs are when your wants become feelings of desperation, fear, or insecurity. Another sign is if we are calculating our gestures in an effort to be covert and get what we want. If we are not being honest with our partner, then we probably aren’t being entirely honest with our self.  The Victim aspect of the ego only looks to others, and not to our self to make us feel better. And when feelings persist, or false expectations aren’t met, the victim aspect blames others for the disappointment, toxic emotions, and circumstances.

If you are hurt or blaming, then you are past the ego’s Victim aspect of needy and have possibly turned angry about it. If you find yourself making ultimatums or demanding someone do something for you, or you believe they are the only one that can meet your need then you have crossed the line as well. If your needs aren’t being met and you respond with emotional punishments like disappointment, judgment, resentment, or frustration, then you are engaged in an unhealthy neediness. Emotional punishment is not a good long term strategy for satisfying needs. Heck, it’s not even a good short term strategy. If we are trying to get our needs met in this way, people around us will withdraw, and we will be further away from the satisfaction and happiness we desire.

A quick question to ask yourself is whether you are operating above or below the line of feeling neutral. If your need involves getting out of an emotional pit like of fear, despair, or insecurity then you are likely operating from the Victim part of the ego.  If your need involves feeling more love, happiness, appreciation, or connection, then you are probably working on good needs that involve healthy positive interactions with others. The long term answer is awareness of several aspects; what your needs are, when they are victim ego driven, how you ask, and whether the people around you can or will provide for what you ask.

We are complex beings requiring only a few physical things to survive, but many other intangible things in order to flourish and be happy.  Holding rigidly to the belief of “not being needy” causes us to blur the line between material and everything else.  We think of food, water, and shelter as needs, and everything else as wants. We tell ourselves we can do without “wants” and “desires” because we don’t need them.  However, these “wants” and “desires” are what we need in order to be happy and fulfilled.  Maybe part of the problem here is that we don’t think of being happy or feeling fulfilled, as important in our life to have the status of a need. How important is being happy to you? Until it is important, we dismiss our wants and desires and live a life unfulfilled and unhappy. You don’t have to consider satisfying wants and desires necessary for survival, but they are essential needs for spiritual, emotional well-being, and happiness.

The Glass Is Your Life


Do you look at the glass and see it as half full, or half empty?

This isn’t a very important question, and the answer doesn’t matter. The more important question is, How do you look at your life? Even more importantly, is the story you tell yourself that makes the difference.  If you look at your life and you see the parts that aren’t full, or the feel empty, you will feel like you are missing something.  That is entirely okay to feel an emptiness.  It’s the beginning of a desire, a yearning, and that can lead to taking steps to get it.  Or do you look at that emptiness and feel down and tell yourself a story of pity and sorrow? Do you ask the people around you to partake in joining you to fill up that empty space and make it what you want? Are you willing at that moment to do something different?  Or do you look around waiting for someone to somehow know what you want without telling them, and hope that you get it, while you keep painfully feeling the emptiness at the same time.

Or do you put your attention mostly on the part of your life that is full.  Do you feel grateful for it? Do you marvel at that fact that it is all happening while at a warmed up spot on the earth while spinning through galaxies of stars?  Yes, your life could always have more on top of what you have.  The glass of life can be imagined to be infinitely tall making it seem like we have so little.  Or do you look at what you have and enjoy it?  Do you drink from that glass and savor what you have, whatever amount it is?

It may not be important how we look at a glass on the table, but it is important to our happiness how we look at our life.  And a more important variable in determining our happiness is the interpretation we make about the part of our life we look at.

What parts of your life do you spend the most time looking at?  And what stories do you tell yourself about what you focus your attention on? Change your story, and you can change your life.

The Self Mastery Course can help you change your story.

What is Your Self Worth ?

What is Your Self Worth?

How do you value your self? Do you sometimes consider your resume or education to get an idea of how an employer would value you and use that standard?  Are there ways your unconscious beliefs might be dictating your value and self worth that you are not aware of?  Are there emotional responses or thoughts of feeling unworthy, less than, or not good enough in some way that bother you?  Perhaps some stories are running around in the background of your belief system with their own labels and numbers.  If some of these exist, consider that these narratives and labels are changeable if you want them to be.  There is no need letting an old story dictate your emotions.

By the time we are adults, much of our self worth has been unconsciously decided.  Starting in childhood we have learned to believe things about our self and our value, , that is held in agreement in our mind through adulthood.  What is important to understand is that even if it has been there for a long time, you can change your self worth.  Once you understand how your self worth is determined your beliefs about yourself, then it is a matter of identifying these beliefs and changing them.  The tricky part is that a lot of these beliefs are hidden in our sub-conscious and may take some investigation. We might at times hear the thoughts or notice the emotions of not measuring up, or comparing our self to others. These thoughts and emotions are at our conscious level of awareness but usually arise from beliefs that are below our conscious awareness.

There can be a lot of emotional attachment to the thoughts we think and how we describe our self. One way we can become aware of these beliefs of self worth, and thereby begin the change process, is by making a list of the way we label our selves.  Take some time to write down the narrative thoughts that go through your head about your self.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how do those thoughts rate you?  What do you imagine other people think of you?  And then consider that those thoughts are coming from your imagination as well. Some are simple to find. A friend who does investments always says, “You are only as good as your last trade.” Another, who was runner, would often say, “You are only as god as your last race.”

Julie, a client, was recently surprised to discover beliefs about her self worth this way.  After becoming pregnant, her and her husband thought it was time to move from an apartment and buy a house.  At the finance office they are told that they would do better with a loan if Julie was not on the mortgage. In spite of a good credit score she did not have much credit history. Julie felt offended, hurt, and angry at being devalued this way.  She also thought it was ridiculous because she considered herself to be very financially responsible.  She only recently left her job as an engineer, but had worked for years making good money. She had always paid cash for things instead of financing them, including her car. To Julie, people like her should be the kind of financially responsible person banks would want to lend to.  However, her attempts to prop herself up with these stories didn’t make the finance person budge, nor did it make her emotions of unworthiness she felt change.

When Julie filled out the loan application, she recalled how weird and unsettling it was to put down “housewife,” a new and uncomfortable label.  I asked her on a 1 to 10 scale how she valued herself based on being a housewife.  “It’s about a 2,” she replied.  We went through several labels and titles that could be used to describe her and she put a number representing a value to each.

Engineer:  8 or 9

Wife:  3 or 4

Breadwinner:  9

Yoga Instructor:  5

Expectant Mother: 6

Daughter:  4

It was revealing to see that she had a different value for herself depending on which label or title she used, and yet all of them applied all the time. Who she is didn’t change and yet her perceived value, and emotion, changed from one moment to the next, depending on which label she identified with in that moment. It seemed that changing her value was as easy as changing the label she identified with.

What was more interesting was that when the loan company implied to her that she had no value, she took on that label as well.  It hurt, and it conflicted with the other higher value stories about herself, but she still adopted it, if only for 24 hours. It was some else’s measurement, but she still felt it heavily hanging around her. How is it that what a credit agency we’ve never met says about our worth can so quickly become the feeling of our worth?  It is because our mind is incredibly flexible. It can dream up any sort of dream about our self, or others, and present it to our imagination as if it were real. The good news is that if our mind is so flexible, then what we believe about our self worth is changeable.

It doesn’t make sense that we would value ourselves the way a credit agency would. Yet without awareness, we might fall for the illusion our powerful imagination can concoct.  The imagination can jump from high to low self worth unless we are aware and manage our mind in these moments. If we agree to it in our imagination we get the emotional punch in the gut.  If we are aware and don’t agree to this proposal in the mind, then we don’t get the emotional punch.

Personally, I don’t want to be valued by a credit agency or an employer.  Can you imagine being at your own funeral, where family and friends are gathered and they talk about how they valued you?  “Here lies Gary.  He lived a good life.  He paid his bills on time and achieved a credit score of 790 and for that we respect and appreciate him.” And then they read from my resume? No thanks. That’s just some stuff I did.  That’s not what I am.  I’ve taken time in my adult years to consciously choose what is important to me in terms of values. They are quite a bit different than the standards of winning and good grades that I unconsciously adopted as a kid. My emphasis these days is on kindness, respect, being happy, and supporting others in being happy. How well I am doing in these intangible categories isn’t as easy to measure as a credit score and varies from day to day. That’s okay because I know over time my work and investments in these practices pay off in my happiness and fulfillment, even if they don’t show up on a resume.

How do you value your self, and do you want to change it?   If the answer is yes, then it is up to you to go and do something about it. No one else can change your self worth because no one else’s opinion of you will have as much impact on you as your own beliefs.


this article by Gary van Warmerdam

Posted on his blog at

Stress in Childhood as a Cause for ADHD

Dr. Gabor Maté discusses the importance of environment and stress of the parent for mind and brain development in children. The topics he covers include ADD/ADHD, implicit memory and counter-will. He delivered his presentation at the KMT Child Development and Community Conference in Toronto.

What he prescribes is that one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is your own happiness, mental, and emotional well being.


What is most important to take away is that due to neural plasticity through mindfulness and awareness training you can change your mind, emotions, and behaviors.

Intent For Change

Finding the Force of Intent for Change

What changes do you want to make? We can use anything as an example, get into better physical shape, eat healthier food, happier relationships, more free time, or financial goals.   What is important to apply (not just understand intellectually) is that these changes in actions, behaviors, and outcome begin with desire and commitment. Desire and commitment aren’t intellectual ideas or concepts.  Desire and commitment are feelings and emotions which are much more powerful than ideas. These feelings are the raw material need to make change happen.  We’ll use my friend Dave’s experience changing his attitude about the holidays as an example.

“I’ve got to do something about this.  These attitudes aren’t helping me.” This is what Dave said to himself last year as he looked at his attitudes and opinions about the holiday season.  It was the feeling and attitude that went with his words that was important.  It was a commitment to change. It was also a recognition that he is the owner of his attitude and expressions about the holidays and that he has the power to change these attitudes.  This is a recognition of our own power.  “I’ve got to do something about this,” is said with the emphasis on “I am doing something about this.”   Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, a year later, he wasn’t depressed about the holidays the way he had been in previous years. If these same words are said with feelings of despair, overwhelm, or powerlessness,  that come from a victim voice in our head they don’t accomplish the same thing.

I know this message is after the holidays, but perhaps that is best. You have a window here to reflect on what just happened and time to intend a new experience if you wish. If you don’t need a head start on next year’s holidays, then use these ingredients in other areas you want to change for the coming year such as your diet, exercise, or relationships.

Some Practical Actions

What makes people sad and depressed during the holidays? Whatever it is for each person, it isn’t the same.  And it isn’t that it is Christmas, or a specific thing about the holiday. If it were, we would all respond the same way.  So some of this holiday gloom, has to fall on the shoulders of the individual.  The good news here is that we can each change our own part. Without ownership of some of our emotional dynamics control of our happiness will default to forces outside our self.  This defaulted approach results in a feeling of powerlessness. So the first step is to own some responsibility for your opinions, thoughts, activity, experience, attitude, and creations. This is empowering and necessary for change.

Splitting Lies from Truth

Recognize that there are some glib lies and falsehoods about the holiday season.  It is NOT “the most beautiful time of the year.” It’s a great line from a beautiful song, but it isn’t the truth.  I thinks something in our conscious awareness senses a lie in there and we revolt or rebel against it.  However, perhaps we go too far in our rebellion and exaggerate our expression of disgust and extend it to anything or everything about Christmas. Perhaps there is some middle ground we can find between believing every line of a sappy song and exaggerated disgust at it.  In truth, some people love the time of the year and it is the most beautiful to them.  Let them have their experience and enjoyment.  It is okay not to feel that way.  And we can drop expressions of resentment about their joy also.  The time of the year is really equally beautiful (or ugly) as any other time.  You don’t need to try and believe the line from the song.  If it goes against your integrity and it isn’t the most beautiful time for you then that is fine.  I prefer the longer days of light during the summer or the colors of the leaves in the fall.  But, hey, if someone finds the bright snow and freshness of the cold air in winter beautiful then I won’t begrudge them that.  I’ll respect their preferences, freedom of expression, and choices and I’ll be the happier for it when I do. When I drop my story about it NOT being the most beautiful time of the year, and change it to, “It might be for some people,” I also drop the judgment, disdain, and resentments that I have been carrying around.  That takes one me one step out of the emotions of misery and in the direction of happier. Every step is one.

Honesty About Your Emotions Helps

The Christmas Holiday season is often about getting together with family.  It is a time that we relish our close relationships and take time to enjoy them.  That makes it a special time, and, if we have lost close family members, it can make it an especially hard time emotionally.  We are likely to miss those family members even more.  This brings up feelings of sadness, grief, and gloom.  In this case it isn’t the holiday decorations to blame, or an ornament that reminds us of a loved one or lost dreams.  These holiday symbols are triggers for a kind of unfinished mourning.   Somewhere down in our soul we haven’t released all the emotions and longings for that family member and loved one.  We haven’t made peace with the cycles of life that includes death of a physical body.

Pointing our finger at Christmas and engaging in criticisms distracts us from this emotional journey of cleaning and releasing.  Our attention is especially tempted to trades for less painful emotions.  In this case our mind’s protection system is content with the minor sorrows and dissatisfaction’s of the holidays in lieu of the deeper emotional loss. While our denial system unconsciously trades for a lesser pain this isn’t the only option.  It doesn’t solve next years pattern of sorrowful associations or the unreleased grief during the rest of the year. This requires that third option of the emotional journey of release as well as making peace with the cycles of life, death, and a what we do with the temporal in between.

If we don’t deal with our unreleased emotions and agreements with things like loss directly, it can cause us to build up other patterns that become traditions of sorrow during the holidays.  If we go through a holiday season with deep grief and sorrow our mind can build associations between those emotions and the holiday season.  We can then be induced by these associations to adopt the same mental and emotional pattern during the next year.  After a couple years it becomes a pattern of holiday blues. And then we not only know that we will spend the holidays in sorrow and sadness, but we come to expect it.  At that point we might build a layer of dread in response to this expectations at the coming holiday emotions. Dread at the coming season, or at anything, is a sign that we have abdicated our power over to patterned thoughts of a fictional future.  This is also a state of self-hypnotized powerlessness that left unattended will dream us next year.

Practical Actions for Change

At this point it is not just about releasing the emotions of grief, but also about changing the patterns of our mind.  For this, awareness, desire, and commitment to change our attitude can be helped with bold action.  Changing the external pattern of triggers and the associations to emotional patterns may be called for.  New traditions might include different decorations for the tree and house, a different menu for the meal, or inviting different family, neighbors, and friends to join.  Or you can be more bold by going off to a warm beach for a few days or volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank serving meals.  New people, new interactions, and new environment forces your mind to build new neural patterns and will help keep you in the present moment.  It is in the present moment you will feel more alive and vibrant, making it harder for those tempting stories of dread and sorrow to dream into your expressions.

The point here is that you can do something.  You have to do something if you want to change how you feel during this time of the year, or any time of the year. The same applies to patterns of healthy eating and exercise.  It is not enough to do the same thing, believe the same thing, have the same thoughts, and expect that your emotions or activities will change.  Thoughts, beliefs, attitude, activity, and emotions come as a package.  Once you start taking new actions and activities, your mind will be driven to different thoughts, and you will be on your way to creating new emotional patterns.  Sometimes you start with changing the thoughts and beliefs on the inside and the inspiration for change externally happens.  At other times you must consciously change external patterns that force your neural and emotional patterns to be disrupted.

The Raw Ingredients for Change

The process starts with taking responsibility and ownership of some part of your thoughts, attitudes, emotions, or actions. This sense of responsibility provides the faith for a sense of power necessary for change.  These steps are followed by desire and commitment.  Focusing on the desire to change helps grow that desire.  When that desire is strong enough a commitment to a new direction or action arises. This is where Dave was when he said to himself, “I’ve got to change this.  These attitudes aren’t helping me.” Notice here that all these important ingredients aren’t ideas in the head.  They have the quality of feeling and are therefore much more powerful than ideas. Only when the feelings are felt do the words come.

You Don’t Need To Know How Yet

Do you need to know how you will change those thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions at this point?  No, you don’t.  Trying to know how things will change before you have the desire and commitment usually leaves one in a state of paralysis.  A person feeling powerless waits for the “right” answer of what they know will work before doing something.  However, without being committed, without that desire for change, one will feel doubtful of any approach.  When you have the desire and commitment you don’t really care if the thing you try will work because you know that you can and will try something else until you find a way.  You don’t feel as powerless because you aren’t dependent on just one “right” answer.  Once you have the desire and commitment, the mind will work towards figuring out the path with multiple approaches if necessary.

If you find that you are trying to figure out the “how,” then take time to notice that you are in the world of concepts in your head and ignoring the necessary ingredients of feelings.  Then put aside those concepts and get connected back with your feelings of wanting and desire.

The specific actions other people use or that you read in an article may or may not work for you right away. Each person will have to find their own way through to a different attitude about the holidays or whatever changes they want to make. It may take one or more attempts to implement a strategy that works completely the way you want. For instance, you won’t know which nutritional food plan or workout regimen will work best for you until you try several.  But in my experience, the process of Responsibility à Empowerment à Desire à Commitment are universal.

What is important to notice about these elements of change that precede actions or behaviors is that they all have to do with feelings. We feel responsible and powerful or we don’t feel it.  We feel desire and committed or we don’t.  What made Dave’s commitment with words work was that they were full of feelings of desire and resolve.  There was a feeling of responsibility and power over his attitude and opinions.  His words had a desire and a commitment so strong that he could feel a “need” to change. Change happens when you get in touch with your feelings.   When you make your commitments to change, make sure your words aren’t empty of feeling. The more desire, and feeling they have, the more powerful your commitments and the faster your change will be.

I don’t just write about Dave because it is a good story. I know from personal experience the impact desire and commitment had to the changes I made. I vividly remember the desire that drove commitment that then led to changes.  What I write about here isn’t just theory or story about Dave.  Having and embracing these raw ingredients of feelings and emotions that produced change is also my experience.


Original by Gary van Warmerdam

Posted at



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