You have one option when it comes to your needs and that is to meet them. I’m going to repeat what I just said so it sinks in… Your one option when it comes to needs is to meet them. Why is this your one option? Because if you do not meet those needs consciously, you will meet them subconsciously. This is what manipulation is. Manipulation carries a big stigma and makes it sound as if someone is malevolently controlling someone else. In reality, it is highly subconscious and also quite innocent.
MEETING OUR NEEDS SUBCONSCIOUSLY
Manipulation is what we do when we feel we cannot meet out needs directly, so instead we try to meet them in round about ways. We try to influence others to do what we want them to do so our needs are met. For example, a person who needs to feel safe but who cannot ask directly to be protected, may create a situation where they have to be rescued by someone else or paint the false picture that they are in danger so other people will step up and offer their protection. Or, a person who needs help or needs to feel supported, but who cannot ask directly for help or support, may develop an illness that makes it so people have to help or support them. Or a person who needs to feel accepted, but who can’t seek that out directly, will become a chameleon to try to influence people to accept him or her. Every one of us manipulates. The question is to what degree are we conscious of that manipulation?
Some common ways of manipulating people are lying, dropping hints, guilting others, self sacrificing, being passive aggressive or using emotional punishment against them, flattering people insincerely, being a chameleon, being seductive, making false promises, doing favors, making yourself out to be the victim and making threats etc. Keep in mind that we all use what we have, so we will usually manipulate people with whatever is currently working to our advantage. For example, a spiritual medium may use their abilities to “divine” messages for you from God simply to keep you dependent on them and thus guarantee that you will never leave them. Manipulation doesn’t make you a bad person, but dare to take a look at your life and ask yourself, how do I manipulate? In what ways do I ensure that I will get the reaction I want from others instead of just asking for what I want upfront? In what ways do I think I can meet other people’s needs just so that they can meet mine?
Manipulation will always feel out of alignment with your own sense of integrity because if you are manipulating, you are not being authentic. So a good question to ask yourself might be… What things cause me pain or make me feel ashamed of myself that I cannot give up or get over or stop doing? For example, a person might find that even though it causes them pain to cut themselves, they cannot give it up because when they cut, they get people to stop what they are doing and attend to them with concern. Therefore the cutting is a way of meeting their need to be seen and understood. Also, take a look at what was not ok to need or want in your family. We tend to manipulate to get the needs met which we feel are not ok to have, especially emotional needs. And once you find those needs, ask yourself one by one, how do I go about getting this need in my life currently?
BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO BE VULNERABLE
Stopping ourselves from manipulating is difficult for one major reason… it requires us to be brave enough to be vulnerable. We have to be willing to admit to needs that we feel are not ok. Once we become conscious of our manipulation, it no longer feels good to do the manipulative thing that we were doing and we will naturally find ways to replace our way of meeting that need. When we catch ourselves in the act of manipulating, we can ask ourselves, “What is it that I am trying to get by doing this?” And then we can express that need directly or meet that need directly in another way.
Get in touch with what you want and what you need. You’ve got to take the time or take pauses over the course of the day to ask yourself what you really need or really want. If you need help, look on the Internet for a list of needs. Physical, mental and emotional needs. And from those lists, make a list of your individual needs. Then, when you feel negatively, go to the list and identify the need you have and find ways to fulfill that need or express it to others. In my community, sometimes we bring these sheets of needs to someone in the community and ask them to point to the one they need. Another good exercise to do throughout the day is to ask the inner child what it needs. Inner children are better at picking out the need they have from a list than they are at verbally expressing it. With each and every need, you can then brainstorm ways to meet the need yourself and have the need met by others. Involve other people in this brainstorming task if you get stuck. If you are truly clueless about your needs and wants, take a look at what you know that you don’t want. To the other side of those aversions, are preferences. You may have heard of the hungry ghost, which represents greed… the concept that if you begin to give into your needs, they never stop and you just keep wanting more and more. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. Imagine for once that a need that is met is a need that is met and that if you meet a need, you will feel satiated. The truth is greed is not a natural state… because starvation is not a natural state. If one’s needs were met consistently, one would not become concerned with the self-centered desire to hoard resources. Hoarding only occurs in the presence of the fear of scarcity. So not meeting your needs is a great way to become greedy.
No need is too childish… It’s tempting to see needs like being held or like being comforted as childish needs. But these needs often exist because they were not met within us in childhood. If a need isn’t met in childhood, we never actually mature past that point. And it may be tempting to think that if we start to meet the needs of the inner child as an adult, that the inner child will never be satiated. But it will and the result of satiating the inner child’s needs is that the inner child grows up. In other words, if needs were not met in childhood, they must be met FOR us to grow up. And as a side note, they will be met by us in round about ways whether we like it or not, in fact most of the sexual fetishes in the world are actually about unfulfilled childhood needs. I’ll tell you personal story. I was not protected as a child and some time ago, I realized that I needed to feel safe and didn’t especially when I was sleeping at night. So I directly asked one of my housemates to sleep next to me. I found that the next day, I felt much more secure in the world. Now let me ask you a question, would it have been better to deny this need because it was childish? Would that have made me a “better person?”
YOU ARE DEPENDENT ON OTHER PEOPLE
You may think you are needless, want less or anti-dependent. You may think you don’t need anything from anyone. But in this world, you are dependent on other people. You need them and they need you. This doesn’t mean you are powerless. When you are in the space of thinking you don’t need anything from anyone, you are too afraid to be vulnerable and so you don’t ask for what you need and so your subconscious runs the show, getting you what you need in all kinds of round about and highly manipulative ways that you may not even recognize.
The reality is it’s scary to acknowledge your needs to others, after all someone might say NO to your needs. But I want you to think about it this way… If you were honest about your needs from the get go, people who could not meet those needs would gravitate away and people who could meet those needs would gravitate to you and your life would look a lot different than it does currently. And guess what? It makes us happy to meet each other’s needs. And meeting someone’s needs, might just meet your own simultaneously. For example, one of us might feel happy when we are meeting someone’s need for comfort. Meeting their need for comfort may in fact meet our need for connection. On the flip side, another of us might feel like meeting someone’s need for comfort is as pleasurable as getting our teeth pulled, meeting their need for comfort may in fact conflict with our need for autonomous achievement. So we simply need to allow ourselves to line up with and select people whose needs are met by meeting our needs. You might just be surprised… the people around you might just be relieved to know what your needs are and to be able to meet them. A good question to ask yourself is, what needs make me happy to meet?
MULTIPLE RESOURCES TO MEET YOUR NEEDS
And for those of you who are wondering, what if the person you have chosen for a partner doesn’t want to meet your needs, here’s your answer… Ideally, your needs would be met through various people, not just one. Powerless dependence happens most often when one person is your sole resource for your needs getting met. But you have to be very honest with yourself about what needs you specifically want to have met through a partner and which ones you are ok with getting through someone else. This is an individual preference. And if you find that the needs you specifically want to have met by a partner cannot be met through your partner, let yourself find another partner. Honoring a person when they say No to meeting your needs is a very important thing because it means you can put them in the proper place in your life. For example, if one of your needs in a partnership is emotional availability and your partner can’t be emotionally available, you can now choose to take them out of the role of partner and place them in a friendship role in your life or you can choose to alter your expectation of a partner if that is possible or you can choose to be unfulfilled in that partnership. In my opinion, it’s better to not make each other miserable, resenting each other for things you aren’t providing for each other.
To expand upon the idea of needs, I want you to listen to my video on YouTube titled: The Zebra and The Watering Hole. And I also want you watch my video on YouTube titled “dependence vs. independence.”
There is nothing spiritual about denying yourself of things you want and need. Letting yourself have what you want and need does not turn you into a selfish, entitled, or otherwise bad person. Letting yourself have what you need is food for the soul. So my challenge to you this week is to discover your needs, admit to them and then meet those needs directly. Yes, it will require bravery because it will make you feel vulnerable. But it will also place you squarely in your authenticity and it will give you the best shot at feeling nourished that you’ve ever had.