Friday, May 21, 2010

Substitute needs

This excellent article is by Leonard Jacobson

Question: You speak of a hierarchy of repressed emotions as follows: anger, hurt, need, and fear. I gather from what you say that our needs, other than for survival, are an illusion. Is awareness of these needs all that is necessary for them to be met and to move beyond them? Is there some action we must take?

Leonard’s Answer: The only true need is the need for others to be present with us. All other needs are substitute needs. When we came into this world as tiny and vulnerable babies, we had a need for our parents to be truly present with us. But to varying degrees, they were not, and so we did not feel safe. In order to feel safe, we began our pursuit of substitute needs.

“Well, if you will not be present with me, then will you at least love me?”

It soon became obvious that we would not receive the level of unconditional love that we needed to feel safe, so we went after the next substitute need.

“Well if you will not love me, then will you at least accept me unconditionally?”

That substitute need was not met.

“Well, if you will not love and accept me unconditionally, will you at least approve of me, or acknowledge me, or make me feel special.”

With each step we take in pursuit of these substitute needs, we are moving away from ourselves and becoming lost in others.

Most of us spend our entire lives in pursuit of these substitute needs, completely unaware that all we really need is for others to be truly present with us. One who is fully present is loving, accepting and acknowledging. When another is truly present with you, you get it all.

~ Leonard Jacobson

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