What does feeling needy mean to you? Is it something you've been called before or is it a feeling you identify yourself experiencing? In our culture, being labelled as needy can often have negative connotations, it implies that there is something wrong with you for wanting your needs met and that you should be satisfied with what you have. Have you ever wondered where this comes from? If you've ever experienced feeling needy in the past you will know that it is quite an unpleasant state to be in and it can spiral into more intense feelings of helplessness & unhappiness very easily. I myself have experienced feeling needy at times in my life and it got me wondering about the difference between feeling needy & having emotional needs and that is what I would like to explore today in this blog as well as thinking about some easy ways we can communicate our needs to others and therefore stop feeling so helpless and needy.
We ALL have needs, both emotional & physical. Yep. ALL OF US. It's strange that we have internalised the view that we should all be so independent from each other that if we express our needs or ask them from others then we are weak for asking or desiring help. We tell ourselves that we are not worthy of having our needs met and continually put others before tending to our own needs, and sometimes we don't communicate our needs because we worry about rejection from others. All of these ways of behaving are shaped throughout our lives by our experiences and the stories we tell about ourselves but they don't take away from the fact that we genuinely all have needs and we all need each other. Humans are social creatures and we need connection with other humans to survive & thrive, there should be no shame in this.
We all have needs and if we understand that why is feeling needy such an unpleasant experience for us? I think it's because feeling needy is often more characterised about fear, desperation & a lack of connection and acceptance than it is about your actual needs. Sure, your needs are still valid and you deserve for them to be heard & met however the gnawing desperation and cravings for attention from others is fuelled by emotion and relationship dynamics. If your partner/friend/relative is causing you to feel needy and you are not supported, validated or accepted a bigger question may be whether this relationship is really capable of meeting your needs at this particular time?
Sometimes the issue is we are not actually sure what our own needs are and therefore we are not able to communicate them to others. I see this a lot with people I work with, we all want others to read our minds and preempt our requests as though it is only valid if people have come up with ideas themselves.. however, people are not mind readers! Expecting others to be able to meet our needs when we are not clear about them ourselves leaves a huge risk of being disappointed and let down, hurt and possibly feeling rejected. The first step is really pausing when we get upset with someone for something they said or did and asking ourselves "what is it I really need right now? what am I longing for?".
Most of the time it comes down to connection with that other human being, this is what drives our needy behaviour. For example, if you come home from work and share a problem with your partner but they are distracted scrolling on their phone and you feel yourself getting angry, are you really angry with their action or is it about your need for their support & compassion that fuels your intense emotion? Maybe your partner goes out with friends instead of coming home to you and this triggers intense feelings of helplessness & abandonment causing you to act 'needy' by calling and texting them repeatedly. What is really going on here? Is it that you are driven by fear and are longing for connection, love & security and you do not trust your partner to provide that for you?
Learning To Communicate Our Needs
Once we have identified our needs we can think about where we can get these met and by whom. Sometimes we make the mistake of trying to get our partner to meet ALL of our needs which causes a lot of pressure for one person, which can exacerbate feelings of neediness & rejection if it turns out to be too much for them. If it's support we need we can turn to a friend and say "I am feeling lost & helpless and I really need some support right now, would you be willing to go for a walk with me so we can chat?". If it is acceptance we need maybe we think of joining a support group for people experiencing similar issues, if it is meaning we are craving maybe we think about volunteering for a charity close to our hearts, or if it is love maybe we say to our partners "I am feeling a little insecure. I feel really loved when we spend quality time together, maybe we could plan to cook & share a meal together this evening?" Letting people know what your needs are & how you are feeling creates an opportunity for you to become closer, the opposite of what happens when we are acting 'needy' which actually drives people away with the expression of fear and desperation.
I hope this has got you thinking about your own needs and how to begin communicating them to others and is also reassuring that we all have needs. To get you started here are some examples of common emotional needs: acceptance, connection, community, affection, love, belonging, security, inclusion, safety, support, trust, validation... there are many many more.
If this has got you thinking about your own emotional needs and you would like to know how therapy could help you explore this subject further please get in touch to book a free consultation where we can discuss how working with me can help.
In addition to working 1-1 with me, another way I would love to help you is through my monthly email The Nudge. This is a monthly email of self care reminders & reflection prompts to help you check in with yourself at the beginning of each month. If that sounds helpful and you would like to be added to my list please fill out your email address here.
I am an Integrative Therapist who works remotely online with millennials who are anxious, lost, and overwhelmed. I work collaboratively with people to support them in their emotional wellbeing, to develop skills in self-care and to foster a deeper understanding of themselves. If you would like to find out how I can help you to understand your emotions better, please book a free consultation to see if we are well suited to work together.
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