Re-posted From: http://kindcommunication.org/2013/01/13/stuck-needs/
For some of us, we may have gone through life with a particular need left unmet for a long, long time. Often as far back as childhood. And when a need is left unmet for that long it can become what’s called a “stuck need”. These stuck needs then cling to us all the time, and we never seem to be able to fully meet them.
Here’s an example. Let’s say Mary has a stuck need to be heard. She may experiences this by having this generalized anxiety, that never fully goes away. And she knows that her parents never really heard her, the way she needed to be heard, or at least they didn’t show it, and so now she fantasizes about meeting a man or a friend who will completely hear her. And as she ages, and the need to be heard continues to be unmet, she creates even more fantasies about what it will feel and be like to be fully heard. And then Mary reaches a point where the idealized fantasy of getting the need to be heard met can never be fully actualized in reality. For Mary, if she could just find a friend or a spouse who could “hear her” all of her interpersonal problems will melt away, and she will finally feel like she’s returned “home”.
And there in lies the problem. This idealistic fantasy can never be fully realized, its just not possible. So when Mary has dated men that have taken great lengths to listen to her, she still didn’t fully feel like she was “heard” because it didn’t result in all the interpersonal problems melting away or a feeling of returning “home”. And so since she still doesn’t think she’s being heard, she increasingly adds more demands to her partner of what he needs to do to fulfill her need, all the while the fantasy in her head makes it impossible for him to actually ever meet that need.
And so what’s the path out of these stuck needs? It involves the painful process of recognizing what is actually possible, and what is idealistic fantasy. It involves getting a need met, so for Mary having someone listen to her and provide understanding or empathy, and then noticing what that actually feels like, for Mary that she feels more calm but is still upset about whatever the problem was she needed to be heard around. It is painful to realize that some of our fantasies are too idealistic to be achieved, that life will never be the way we dream. But through moving through this pain, one can finally accurately see when their needs are being met and when they aren’t.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.