You naturally know what you need to be happy. But, do you know the truth about getting what you need to be happy? If you are like many people, you’ve been deceived!
Physical Needs vs. Emotional Needs
We know we need food, water, and shelter in order to survive. And, we instinctually figure out how to get them when necessary. When we are denied these needs and become desperate, we will do things that, in normal circumstances, are considered to be disgusting and unlawful. Some of these behaviors can look like madness and some can disrupt order in our relationships, communities, and society.
Our physical needs are more severe in that without them we will cease to exist. However, we also have emotional needs (Refer to Post #22 for a detailed list) that are inherent. But, since they are intangible and cannot be quantified, it’s easy for them to go unnoticed, unmet, or discounted.
Our emotional needs are food for our spirit. If we don’t get them met, we won’t cease to exist, but our spirit will suffer and wither away. And, just like our physical needs, if we are denied our emotional needs, we become desperate and our behaviors will reflect that. Hence, why children act out in negative ways and jilted lovers seek revenge.
The more adequately our needs are fulfilled, the more loved and satisfied we are. And, the more loved and satisfied we are, the happier we’ll be. But, many of us were deceived about getting what we need to be happy.
Three Deceptions About Getting What You Need to Be Happy
The deceptions you were taught about getting what you need to be happy came out of your nature. Perhaps you learned them naturally from your parents. Or, maybe your parents spent too much time living in their own nature and created an environment that promoted these ideas.
The three deceptions are:
- Other people are responsible for fulfilling your needs
- You are responsible for anticipating and giving other people what they need
- Circumstances dictate what people need
Many people live their lives based on these principles. If you’re one of them, “How is it working out for you?”
I used to live this way. So, my answer is, “It doesn’t work. None of these makes anyone happy.” After years of disappointment and exhaustion, I came to realize that these principles for getting what you need to be happy cause more pain and suffering than happiness. I had been deceived.
Deceptions are Generational
These deceptions are passed along from generation to generation until someone changes them. My parents lived with these deceptions. They didn’t teach them to me so I would be miserable. They got them from their parents and their parents from their parents, and down the generational line. So, they just passed them along to me.
People Who Didn’t Get Their Needs Adequately Met Stay in Their Nature
People who didn’t get their emotional and physical needs adequately met spend most of their lives in survival mode. Or, what I refer to as their nature and Scripture refers to as “sin nature,” “the natural,” or “the flesh.” Living in the natural results in a life of dissatisfaction and conflict and the actions of our nature are sinful. (Galatians 5: 19-21, NIV) Therefore, we perpetuate our lack of emotional needs. We constantly experience fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt. Those overused survival emotions produce anxiety, depression, poor health conditions, unfulfilled relationships, and an unhealthy society.
When you live in your nature, you experience more emotions than emotional needs. So, fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt become your primary needs and your emotional needs become wishful thinking. Your need for these emotions intensifies. You need them to stay alive, to use as means to get what you want (for manipulation), and so you can feel something that confirms you’re alive. Your need for these survival emotions prevents you from experiencing joy, peace, love, freedom, contentment, and satisfaction.
Why People Don’t Get Their Needs Met
I’m hard pressed to believe that parents have children so they can purposefully screw them up. Unfortunately, parents who are messed up create messed up lives for their children. These children learn messed up ways to cope with their messed up lives, so they become messed up too. It’s called dysfunction.
Dysfunction is not a disease, but it is a dis-ease. It disrupts the ease of life. Dysfunction steals our peace and joy. It distorts our sense of reality. Dysfunction is a cause and effect of alcohol and drug abuse, neglect, physical and emotional abuse, violence, untreated mental illness, and sexual abuse. It results from not having emotional and physical needs adequately met and prevents people from getting their needs met.
Seemingly well intended behaviors such as overindulgence and overprotection of children by parents actually create dysfunction. Overindulgence enforces the actions of our nature. Overprotection cultivates our natural fear.
Dysfunctional parents live and raise their children in the natural. But, after the children grow they can choose where they want to live – in the natural or above and beyond in the super-natural (in the Spirit of God).
Deceptions vs. the Truth
When you live via the super-natural you know the truth and experience ultimate happiness. You learn the truth about getting what you need to be happy. Living in the super-natural is in opposition to living in your nature where deception runs rampant. So, let’s look at three deceptions vs. the truth about getting what you need to be happy.
Deception #1: Other People are Responsible for Knowing and Fulfilling Your Needs
Why this happens: Because of dysfunction from living in the natural.
When you are born, you depend on other people (primarily mothers) to know and fulfill your needs. As you get older and more independent, you are more aware of what you need and try to get them met through communication and behaviors. If your living conditions are unrealistic and your needs are denied or your parents overindulge you, you won’t learn how to identify your needs and you won’t learn how to acquire them. You will resort to what you naturally know. Thus, you will depend on other people to know and fulfill your needs for you.
Dysfunctional people and those who continue to live in the natural focus more on their emotions than their emotional needs. Therefore, they aren’t good at identifying emotional needs nor do they know how to get them met. They rely on other people to do that for them, like when they were infants.
Why This Doesn’t Work
This doesn’t work because no one is a mind reader. Each person knows what he/she needs and everyone does not have the same need at the same time. Therefore, you cannot expect someone to know exactly what you need.
If you continue this unrealistic expectation, you will be constantly disappointed and set people up for failure. You will be angry with the person who should have known your needs and find him in contempt. Then, you will put guilt and shame on him. You will deny the person love because you do not believe the best in him. This keeps your emotional instincts alive and you in your nature.
Truth #1: You Are Responsible for Getting Your Own Needs Met
As adults, it’s true that we depend on other people to fulfill our needs sometimes, not always. No one can know with any accuracy or consistency what you need at any given moment. No one is a mind reader.
There are certain situations when people can anticipate the needs of others. For example, when couples are committed to each other and live in the super-natural, they are so mutually supportive of one another that they become aware of each other’s needs. And, are willing to submit in order to fulfill those needs. Therefore, these loyal twosomes know how to meet the needs of each other.
You must know yourself well enough to identify what you need. Then, you can communicate it to someone one. If no one is there to help you, be patient. If no one is available, communicate it to God. He has given us everything we need. But, to recognize those needs, you have to look beyond your physical expectations.
Being responsible for your own needs gives you value. It allows you to be honest, empathic towards yourself and others, accountable, respectful, and trusting. These are the values that lead to happiness.
Deception #2: You Are Responsible for Knowing and Fulfilling Other People’s Needs
Why this happens: Because parents lack discipline and are weak family leaders. Circumstances are threatening. Parents are control freaks. Co-dependency.
We all want people to be happy. This is especially true between children and parents. One reason we want people to be happy is for our own wellbeing. Happy people are less inclined to hurt us and are more likely to be generous. We know people are happy when they get what they need. Therefore, it’s easy to believe if we give people what they need, we will make them happy.
Weak Family Leaders and Lack of Discipline
We learn to accommodate people’s needs as children. This especially happens when parents are weak family leaders and lack discipline. This occurs when parents are permissive, overindulge their children, are narcissistic, have poor self-esteem, and lack confidence. It can also occur when parents have mood disorders or mental illness and substance abuse issues.
Growing up in these types of environments is unnerving for children and leaves them feeling insecure and scared. In order to make their situations better, children naturally take charge. They become leaders before they are equipped to do so and base their leadership skills on what they know – their nature. Since no one is there to fulfill their needs, they dominate the needs of others by giving people what they think the people need or by telling people what they need or what they need to do.
Any kind of abuse is unacceptable. When children are raised in abusive homes, they focus on making their parents happy. Since we all instinctually know what we need, children assume what parents need based on what their own needs. So, they try to anticipate and fulfill the needs of their parents based on what they know and for self-preservation.
Control freaks need to have things their way. They are anxious and bossy. To maintain control, they tell people what the people need instead of listening to what the people need. Their children will learn how to control the needs of others from how their parent(s) do this to them and others.
Control freaks make their point by pointing at others. They are quick to say, “You need to….”
In situations where a parent is physically or emotionally abusive, an alcoholic, or drug abuser, children may learn how to anticipate and fulfill the needs of others from the non-abusive parent’s behaviors. If Mom is always anticipating what alcoholic Dad needs to be happier, she will teach her children to do the same. This is the making of co-dependency. Children of alcoholic parents learn to focus on the problem and how to mitigate it. They become addicted to taking care of people’s problems in order to make people happy. Alas, they become co-dependent. When you take someone’s problem from him, you assume you know what he needs to correct it.
Why This Doesn’t Work
In situations where children put other people’s needs before their own, the children learn their needs are less important. Therefore, the children grow to feel less valuable, less acceptable, and less loveable.
Truth #2: You are Responsible for Helping Meet the Needs of Others, but With Discipline and Prudence
In truth, we should help meet the needs of others and put others first, but with discipline and prudence. If you accommodate someone’s need just to please that person or for self-preservation, you are not being honest. As good stewards, we must serve others, not enable them. In addition, to serve people effectively, they must communicate to us what they need.
It is right to make sacrifices and extend ourselves for the good of others. But, we cannot continue to do that without tending to ourselves. It would be like driving a car on an empty tank of gas.
Sometimes we have to tend to our needs first. Think about the oxygen protocol on an airplane where you put your oxygen mask on first then you can help others. Knowing how and when to tend to our needs first requires discipline, discernment, and prudence. Sometimes we must ask for God’s guidance for this.
There are occasions when we must simply provide people with emotional needs the best way we know how. In situations where someone is grief-stricken, traumatized, or experiencing acute stress and isn’t capable of caring for himself or making decisions, we must do our best to assess the person and the situation. Then, provide the person with what we believe he needs at that time.
Why This Works
When we allow other people to be responsible for their own needs, we respect and honor them. We also trust them to be honest in asking for what they need. This gives them the ability to be accountable for themselves. It gives us the ability to be empathic and respectful. These are the values that bring us to happiness.
Deception #3: Circumstances Dictate Our Needs
Circumstances can cause us to have certain needs, but not everyone handles situations the same way. For example, when I get tense, I need privacy, but when my husband gets tense, he needs more attention and to be listened to.
We cannot assume what people need based on their circumstances and must be careful to not judge and criticize others because they don’t have the same needs that we do in similar situations.
Truth #3: Our Needs Are Unique to Us in Our Circumstances
The truth is that certain circumstances elicit certain needs. But, not everyone responds the same way. Everyone has his/her own tolerance to pain, capacity for adversity, and coping skills. Therefore, we must allow people to show us what they need. Then, do our best to serve them.
When we pay attention and listen to people, we’re already fulfilling some of their emotional needs. From the information we gather from this, we can provide them with more of what they need. This will be far more satisfying for them and us.
We all have the same needs, but not at the same time and in the same situations. Even though our needs are the same, we are not. Therefore, we must be mindful of our needs and the needs of others and with understanding, discipline, and prudence do our best to know and fulfill them.