This blog is inspired by Dr. Diane Poole Heller, a somatic attachment and trauma specialist living in the United States.
Many of us have unhealthy relationships to our needs. We may have been taught that needs were a bad thing to have growing up. Maybe we experienced an exhausted, abandoning Mother or an angry, abusive, or withdrawing Father in response to our needs. We may have developed a belief that our needs are not good things to have. They only get us into trouble or thrown into isolation. These are two places that a child fears going....understandably. We may have buried them, denying their existence, believing that we shouldn't have them.
Well, that belief couldn't be more WRONG...Needs are healthy, natural and normal, both in children and in adults. Needs do change and look very different in adult relationships than they do in childhood. In my couples work I see repeatedly that this isn't so clear for a lot of struggling couples. It is such a good thing to explore your relationship to your adult needs as well as your childhood experiences of needs. The health of your current relationships depend on it.
The following set of questions from Dr. Heller helps us explore our relationship to our needs and to the needs of others. ( They are great food for thought and discussion.)
1. Whose needs are most important?
2. How were your needs responded to as a child?
3. By your Mother and Father?
4. To whom do you need to express your needs more clearly?
5. How are you well-supported or under-supported in your important relationships around your needs, wants and desires?
6. Do you minimize or maximize your needs?
7. Can you list your needs without shame?
8. Do you despise the needs of others?
9. Do you feel superior when not needing anything?
10. Do you over-idealize autonomy?
11. Do you over emphasize your needs to get attention?
12. Do you act needier than you are to try to influence your partner to get more connection?
13. Do you feel chronically undernourished in relation to your needs?
14. Are your needs now insatiable because the root of them comes from deprivation in the past?
15. Are you afraid of punishment if you express your needs?
16. Do you feel expressing your needs will make you a target for aggression or attack?
For her website with further information on attachment styles, etc go to www.dianepooleheller.com. She is geared to a therapy audience so for layperson translation, contact me and I'd be glad to make it directly applicable to you and your relationships.