Have you ever tried to make someone love you because you felt like you needed it? I know that I have. I used to be in relationships with numerous men who, for whatever reason, were unable or unwilling to meet my needs, and who didn’t love me.
It was as if I had a sign on my head that said “I’m not lovable” on it. I spent my time in these relationships being needy and trying to make them care about me and love me, and it was exhausting.
Are you familiar with that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach that drives you to try to make someone care about you and love you?
It almost feels like someone kicked you in the stomach, and even if they say they love you or do something nice for you, there is this nagging feeling that is ever present within you that says it’s not true. You never feel fully satisfied, because you never have any victories or certainty.
It may show up differently for you. Maybe you’re a people-pleaser, and you’re always doing things for other people even if you don’t want to because it feels better to tell someone “yes” and be needed than to tell someone “no” and for them to find someone else to be grateful to.
That needy feeling is an emotional resonance from something in your past that has yet to heal within you, and it can show up in all areas of your life, from your relationship with your partner, family, friends, and even your workplace.
People who have gone through painful or traumatic experiences, no matter how small, are prone to feeling unloved and unworthy. We often don’t know what real love looks like and seek it in people who won’t give it to us, always assuming that it’s because we’re not working hard enough for it, rather than that it’s just not going to happen and that we should move on.
You may have even turned to alcohol or distractions to soothe this feeling. But until you work to release it, those stopgap measures have turned into more problems.
It can take so much work and therapy to untangle those underlying feelings of being less than. You might have already realized it’s there and done some of the work, to varying degrees of success.
The way you start to untangle your desire to be needed is with self-reflection and self-control. Do any of the points below sound like you?
- Saying “yes” when you want to say “no”
- Putting fruitless work into relationships with people who don’t love you
- Feeling upset when someone else helps out before you can
- Feeling unlovable
- Ignoring evidence that others like you
- Putting disproportionate amounts of work into things for paltry recognition and rewards
- Feeling emotionally exhausted
- Not opening up about your problems or feelings
- Ignoring when others upset you
- Feeling like your accomplishments don’t mean anything
If you recognize any of those feelings, that’s a critical point in your decision-making process where you can step back and analyze the situation to see whether your self-worth problems are affecting how you take care of your needs.
If your emotions are telling you the wrong thing, that’s when you need to:
- Give yourself proof otherwise
- Step away and take a little time off from it
- Have an open discussion about it where you recognize what’s happening
- Let the feeling sit with you for a while
- Remind yourself that you’re safe, loved, et cetera
- Make some humor out of it, if you can
If your emotions are telling you that something could be up:
- Don’t jump into it
- Say “no” instead of “yes,” or tell them you’ll think about it
- If you’ve already said “yes,” tell them the truth
- Acknowledge and sit with the feeling instead of distracting yourself
- Have an open discussion about it
- Consider options for actions you could take to solve the problem
- Ask honest questions to those it might concern
- Remove yourself from the situation instead of plunging yourself back into it
- Ask your most supportive and honest loved ones for advice and try to take it
Ultimately, you need to work on your relationship with yourself before you dive into another relationship, whether it be with a person, thing, or concept. Our relationships with the world around us are complicated, and if we have a complicated relationship with ourselves, we can easily feel like breaking down.
Start where you are, but start. It’s hard, but in the end, you’ll come out with a much healthier life and the knowledge that you’re loved and you’re worthy.
Feel free to let me know what your thoughts are regarding this post in the comments below!