Shadow Work: Meeting Our Needs in a Dark Place

Prompt: What are some ways you go about getting your needs met? Are these practices healthy? Do they help or hinder your growth? What are some needs that are not being met or how could you change your behavior to meet all your needs in a more healthy way?

After ending a long relationship and where neither of our needs were met and taking time to heal and reflect on my own role and reaction in that situation, I’m only recently understanding how important that reflection was and is in all interpersonal connections.  We were both capable of meeting most of each other’s needs, but very few needs of either party were ever addressed. Being vulnerable enough to express those needs, wants, and upsets without aggression was always an issue causing built up anger, unspoken uncertainty and undo resentment.

For a period, I was emotionally very sick. Always angry, depressed, or apathetic.  Literally, I’d lost my enthusiasm to live an involved life.  Now, I feel more dedicated to my own healing and less to proving myself to others.  I am so much more clear about what it is I want and can focus on communicating it rather than “co-defining” it with someone else’s perceived expectations and desires in mind.   Assuming I knew or understood someone else without inquiring put a halt and strain on connections that may have offered much opportunity for growth on multiple levels.

In many situations similar to that, whether platonic, romantic, familial or otherwise, I have failed not only to get my needs met but even to fully identify and articulate them to my loved one.  That’s clear in hindsight but at the time we both felt we were being more than clear with someone we felt should “just get” us.  Other situations, I voiced my needs but accepted less because of emotional attachment, despite knowing in the beginning that a person was unable to meet the needs I’d expressed.

Many toxic themes arise when considering our relationship to meeting emotional needs comes up.  For example, passive aggression, repressed anger, public displays of discord, betrayed secrets, etc. all are toxic ways we go about getting needs met.  However, when we focus on healing, we quickly see that there are much easier, healthier alternatives to all of these actions/attitudes. Taking a moment after a connection breaks to consider each person’s contribution is vital in growing toward the future.

In friendships, I want to grow closer in some way but am always hyper aware of creating unnecessary pressure with my expectations.  Thinking that a connection should take a specific shape or appearance or level of sharing has never ended well in comparison to being clear on what is happening inter-personally and accepting it.  As a response or tool for avoiding that, I have begun to both express my perceptions of a person, and ask many questions.  I find that it goes a long way both to express my interest and clarify my understanding of the person I’m dealing with and their understanding of how deeply I want and intend to connect.

Now that I’m more aware of and have suffered for that habit, I am growing more assertive (it is still a struggle at times). Being able to state what I want, need, feel, dislike, or misunderstand becomes less of a struggle as I take action to deeply connect rather than silently analyze and also reflect the authenticity and sincerity I want to see from others.

As of today, I am feeling a little isolated still, but positive.  I would like to work on authentic bonding with someone (who I have in mind) but I am hesitant to create pressure or assign my own perceptions and desires onto this person as if that is who they are or what they want.  Part of the problem is that I’m still struggling to find the nerve to bluntly inquire or state my own desires while maintaining a balanced approach to the conversation, and indeed the relationship.  I’m learning I have a need to gather feedback from those I communicate with in order to be sure that I am reading the dynamics between us correctly.  I cannot always see in myself what someone else may be reacting to.  Reflecting on communication I have learned that it is the cornerstone to any healthy growth and bonding.

 

 

 

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