How to be "Needy" Without Being Codependent
As some of you know, Lissa Rankin is one of my favorite writers. She has a knack for addressing issues that many of us struggle with, even if we do not realize it! I personally have a history of giving myself fully and with an open heart, but hesitating when I am in need of nurturing or support. The word "needy" can feel shaming for me and I am grateful for the opportunity to take my neediness back with pride and humility.
Here is a link to Lissa's full post: http://lissarankin.com/how-to-be-needy-without-being-codependent
How to Be “Needy” without Being Codependent
A deep cultural blind spot has recently come into my awareness, and it’s the kind of blind spot that, once you see it, you can’t unsee it. When I was in Bali, I spoke to a Hindu high priest, who is also an indigenous Balinese shaman—a rare combination—and he said that during the Kali Yuga, many blind spots will be revealed, and it is our invitation to just let ourselves see what has been in the shadow, for only then can it be illuminated with healing light. So let us shine light on this pattern and explore it together with curiosity.
This pattern has to do with our relationship to needs, and it plays out in our dynamic between the masculine and the feminine (within ourselves, but also out-picturing in relationships between men and women, as well as playing out in patriarchal systems, like the Western medical system).
As humans, we have needs. It’s a simple fact. If we don’t get our needs met, we suffer and/or die.
We need healthy food, clean water, shelter, physical and emotional safety, emotional intimacy, and a feeling of belonging to a tribe of people who love us. We need the opportunity to do work that matters—without having to sell our souls for a paycheck—so we can give our gifts to the world and have them received. We need to be loved but we also need a place for our love to land. We need beauty and nature and the opportunity to express ourselves creatively. We need sex and good health and a deep connection to our true self.
As Abraham Maslow outlines in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it can be tough to focus on getting deeper needs met when we’re scrambling for survival, as the Syrian people are right now. Maslow asserts that we have to get basic physiological needs and safety needs met before we can begin to meet our needs for love and belonging, esteem, and self-realization. While his model has been criticized as being specific to more narcissistic “me-centered,” self-improvement focused cultures like the United States, and while I sense that such critique is valid, the gist of it is that to be human is to be needy—and the sooner we recognize this, the healthier we can become emotionally, physically, spiritually, and societally.
This is not about gender—because it happens to all of us—but the out of balance masculine has been trained to reject the needs of the undervalued, invisible, and societally dismissed feminine. It is not the masculine’s fault. This part within us all—men and women—has been conditioned by the patriarchy, and this pattern is ready to be healed. The global crisis our planet now faces requires us to come face to face with this systemic wound. We cannot neglect it any longer.
The Rugged Individualist
Think of the origins of American culture. We were built upon the pioneering spirit, the survivalist “We can do hard things on our own” mentality of those who populated the Wild West. John Wayne movies and other archetypes of the hyper-masculine rugged individualist cemented this pattern in our collective psyche. The message we’ve all been taught—men and women alike in my generation—is that a strong individual does not need anybody else. We can take care of ourselves—and if we’re really strong, we can also probably single handedly take care of an army of other needy people. (This pattern, of course, is a recipe for codependence, but more on that in a bit.)
Here’s are the Cliff Notes of these revelations, and then I’ll share more.
*As long as we don’t let ourselves be needy, we cannot truly support someone else who is in need.
To express our needs feels vulnerable, so it’s important to develop trust with those who will help you get your needs met. Vulnerability without safety is a recipe for trauma. True intimacy requires both. If you’re opening yourself to someone who cannot hold your vulnerability with compassion, it’s masochism. If you are repetitively refusing to meet the needs of someone you love when they are lying before you, naked and vulnerable, it’s sadistic.
*No matter how much we try to demonstrate loving behavior with others, if we are in denial of our own vulnerability and neediness, if we judge our needs as weaknesses and reject or exile those parts of ourselves, then we will be unable to show up with true compassion for others when they need us.
*One person’s need is not a criticism of the one who you’re asking for help from. It is simply an expression of need, desire, vulnerability, and the natural interdependency of human beings.
We All Have at Least One Inner Child Inside
Even if we have the most noble intentions of service and compassion, when we lack compassion for the wounded, child-like, scared, hurting, angry, or protective parts in ourselves, we will consciously or unconsciously reject others when we perceive them as needy.
But here’s the kicker, beloveds. We are human beings. We are biologically, emotionally, and energetically tribal. We need one another, now more than ever. The sooner we learn how to express our needs without entangling in codependence, the sooner we will come together in unity with those in our tribes who cannot only help uplift us; they will help us survive the uncertainty of what lies ahead.
Neediness Versus Codependence or Narcissism
I’m not suggesting that we should all act like damsels or dudes in distress, crying out like helpless, “poor me” handless maidens for what we need. I’m also not promoting narcissism. I’m simply saying that your needs matter, and so do the needs of everyone else in your village. Your needs are not more or less important than anyone else’s needs. The narcissist usually . . .