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Getting Your Needs Met

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by Randy Gage

When I was doing my coaching program, I said in a lesson, “But I do think you have a responsibility for yourself to set standards to ensure your needs are being met, and the relationship is healthy for you.”  That drew a protest from Dr. Ellyn Bader.

Ellyn and her husband Dr. Peter Pearson run the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, California.  They specialize in the difficult cases that many other therapists don’t have success with.  Ellyn told me, “Yes, everyone should be sure the relationship is healthy for them.  But the statement ‘be sure your needs are being met’ has done more damage to American relationships than any other statement floating around.  Needs are food, water, shelter, air to breathe, etc.  Mostly everything else is wants and desires.”

“However, most dysfunctional couples we see come to therapy with the lament, ‘I’m not getting my needs met.’  They can’t or won’t stop focusing on what the other is not doing, rather than what they themselves can do.  I wish I could erase ‘be sure your needs are getting met’ from the American lingo!”

Actually my travels can attest that that phrase has transcended the American lingo, and entered the global one.  And I’m not sure that my emotional needs are any less important than my needs for food and shelter, etc.  But Ellyn raises a very important point…

Namely this tendency to spend our energy focusing on what we are not getting from someone else, instead of taking responsibility for what we can do ourselves.  So give that some thought.  Are you taking responsibility for your marriage, friendships and other relationships?  Or are you playing the blame game about your partner?

BTW, even as a wordsmith, I don’t know if there are words to describe the response to yesterday’s post. You guys really are amazing, and it is an honor to be on this journey with you!

-RG

Affiliate Relationship Disclosure

18 comments
Zariel
Zariel

What a joy to find such clear thinking. Thanks for ptiosng!

Bobby
Bobby

I'm not easily impressed. . . but that's imrpssenig me! :)

Anonymous
Anonymous

i wouldnt be in a relationship if i could meet all my needs. it would be nice but why bother except for company to be married if your only gonna take care of yourself anyway. i dont mind taking care of myself and i agree i am responsible for my own stuff but being with someone else can effect my moods and perspective etc. if you cant tell your spouse of your desire for them to be with you and have them respond in a positive way than its pointless

Lionel Koh
Lionel Koh

Hi Randy and everyone

The point of having our needs (emotional, physical, spiritual and material) met is a valid point and one that many people in relationships either pay too much attention to or don't pay enough attention to.

I learnt this from some of my mentors who learnt it from their mentors. The question to ask is "Are we creating or are we consuming our relationships?"

In every relationship or journey, there is always a creating and a consuming cycle. Depending on where we are in that cycle, our perspective on whether the relationship is working will change.

In new relationships, we will do everything we can and think of many ways to be with that special someone or stay in touch (even in long-distance relationships). This is a creation cycle.

When things are going fine and everything seem to be fine and dandy, one day we may find that the person that we worshipped and adored is not so attractive anymore. We have thus moved into a consuming cycle where we are living on "past glory". Sooner or later, that past glory is going to run dry.

The common saying "The relationship is working" is erroneous. It is the people in the relationship that is working the relationship. When both parties look at what they can create in the relationship, they naturally will look at meeting BOTH their needs. When one or both decide that the relationship is working and no more work need to be done, they then start consuming the energy of the other party without giving anything back. This is what leads to the start of the breakdown and finger-pointing of who is bringing more to the table.

So when both parties focus on creation rather than consumption, there will be a natural spark and positive energy flowing in the relationship. You are either creating in love or consuming in fear, which is the basis of all energy in our existence anyway.

Love to have your thoughts on this issue.

With heart
Lionel Koh

Pierre Leyssac
Pierre Leyssac

Hey Michael Eisbrener

there is something that truly resonates with me when I read you are writing: "I say in we cannot be responsible for ourselves until we are willing to be responsible for everyone else. Anything else is blame or worse."
It also has much to do with how we listen for the other person or group. She arises in the listening I have for her. I see great futures in developing this listening for conversations on the level others to others. It is seldom one get the opportunity to have a meaningfull exchange with a man as you who has arrived at a place to grasp responsibilty on this level.
In the end the end my concern is Who are the Creators? My mentor Randy Gage is one of them.

Respect and Love

Pierre Leyssac, Copenhagen

saachi
saachi

Hi, Randy, thanks for today's post which I enjoyed reading.
I feel it has a lot to do with how we grow up hearing and seeing how and what other's are doing. As someone, having lived in the society made up of so many multi-cultures and races, which is unlikely where I originally came from (Japan) and being one of the global citizens having had so many opportunities to meet many people offline/online (many are absolutely wonderful people but sorry to discover some are extremely egoistic and small minded/sheltered), I sometimes see myself beginning to react in equal response to the way of life that I get sucked into, which represents the world we live today that has a tendency to spend our energy focusing on what we are not getting from others, instead of taking responsibility for what we may be able to do (reacting the same, which I hate, in order that I can maintain the continuance of a happy life with strength and positive outlook, while coping with thousands issues life brings at the same time.) When I end up catching myself/or seeing myself acting/reacting in response to the reaction/the way some egoistic fools (sorry, to be honest. I'm a human, too.) are naturally doing, I repent very huge and try so hard doing my best to pull myself back into the place of old ways which I am not saying the old ways are the best but I do believe a little thing like giving a little kindness, little love, and the willingness of meeting at the contact point/common ground with people, which a people-to-people and human-to-human touch can still be instinctively felt, understood and shared to learn what love is, is still worth living for and giving the good dimension to our lives.

And I do believe emotional needs are as important as the needs for food and shelter. In fact, they are more important than the needs for food and shelter, and should not be taken any less important.

[I wish I could erase ‘be sure your needs are getting met’ from the American lingo!"]
A similar lingo you described is spread around the world globally, as I observed people when I traveled in the past, that's for sure, whether here or other parts of the world that used to have an emphasis on the human little touch to another that would would make a difference in the world in their ways of life, and some are mistakenly, overly, and unnaturally acting out this way of life as if one has achieved to have become a global citizen/or american citizen. There seems to be no place/country any more that still maintains their old cultures in the way they originally lived. Sad, but it's true, and that this way of thinking has entered the globe one. And it's also true that the whole world is changing/or has changed toward americanization, whether people on the different parts of the world admit it or not, America has had a great influence on the rest of the world. My comment and my view here is only from my end, as someone who has lived here in the US, not as a native but love the country, thus may bring up some controversies, depending on who/where the reader lives. Thank you for keeping us motivated to keep on keeping on, Randy. You're truly a motivator and a special person. May God always bless you. love and hugs:: -saachi

Daryl
Daryl

In my relationship I want Hot Sex. Okay I need my wants met.

Dee Pauletig
Dee Pauletig

HI Randy,

What a great topic. I believe as many have stated, one HUGE mistake we make is expecting OTHER to meet our needs! The question , "Are your needs being met" is a great and valid question that we all need to ask regularly. We should ask in with respect to relationships, jobs, spirituality.health...virtually all aspects of our lives. But...the question that follows if your answer is "no" is, "What are YOU doing about it? " It is not somebody else's responsibility to see that my needs are being met. Not as an adult. It is MY responsibility to see to it! I would suggest that the doctor's patients should be asking themselves THAT question.

One of the greatest issues of our time in my humble opinion, is the inability of people to take responsibility.

There's my 2 cents....

Dee

Bernice
Bernice

"Are you taking responsibility for your marriage, friendships and other relationships? Or are you playing the blame game about your partner?"

I think both people in a relationship are responsible.

Each person is whole and complete, but not everyone realizes they are. Sounds like a meme... 'You complete me"?

Affirm: I am whole & complete.
Debra Berndt from "Let Love In" http://letloveinbook.com

I think that if neither person takes responsibility, or if only one takes responsibility, then desires won't be achieved.

Taking responsibility is powerful because you can forgive (yourself & others) and you can change, learn and grow.

Blaming others or blaming yourself keeps you in victimhood (like Cherie said above) or worthiness issues (what is wrong with me, how can I fix this, how can I be better...instead of how can we be better.)

Don't judge others and don't judge yourself.
"By focusing on what is perceived to be broken, you perpetuate the cycle of judging yourself, and you will never be complete." Debra Berndt from her book "Let Love In"

We can't make someone take responsibility... they have to take responsibility for themselves. We can only take responsibility for ourselves and what we contribute to our relationships.

Affirm: "I am responsible for only myself."
Debra Berndt from "Let Love In"

Affirm: "I give to myself first then I can give to others."
Debra Berndt from "Let Love In"

We are responsible for our own happiness...“Yes, everyone should be sure the relationship is healthy for them."Dr. Ellyn Bader.

"Other people or external things can never really make you happy. surface desires drive toward temporary solutions, which result in your always needing more. Uncovering and satisfying your true, deep desires will lead you down a path of lasting joy and inner peace." Debra Berndt, "Let Love In"

"You are what your deep driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." Brihadaranyaka, "The Upanishads"

I think people do need love...desire love...and it begins with loving yourself. The say we are mirrors...what we attract are reflections of us...so if we love ourselves...

Love is a command: "Love your neighbor as yourself"

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." Rumi

Debra Berndt says in "Let Love In" that "there is nothing to change, improve on, or fix...except your false perceptions. The truth is that you are already lovable, amazing, wonderful, and absolutely worthy of love."

Michael Eisbrener
Michael Eisbrener

Perhaps if we gave up being judge and jury over what we 'needed' or required to make ourselves feel good we could see and be grateful for all that appears. The devil is in the details and the conversation about being responsible is long, detailed and not for the faint of heart. I say in we cannot be responsible for ourselves until we are willing to be responsible for everyone else. Anything else is blame or worse.

Responsibility is a ‘what is possible?’ conversation.

Responsibility is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame, or guilt. All these include judgments and evaluations of good and bad, right and wrong, or better or worse. They are not responsibility. They are derived from a ground of being in which SELF is considered to be a thing or an object rather than a context. We live in an odd time and place where context is ignored, obliterated, denied or lied about.

Responsibility STARTS with the willingness to deal with a situation from and with the point of view, whether at the moment realized or not, that you are the source of what you are, what you do, and what you have. This point of view extends to include even what is done to you and ultimately what another does to another.

Responsibility starts with the willingness to experience yourSELF as cause.

Ultimately, responsibility is a context—a context of SELF as source --- for the content. i.e. for what is.

From this context discovering what the needs of those around you are that you might supply, cause, or produce that would in turn have your ‘needs’ be met in the process might prove to be a more powerful way of looking at it. OR once you discover all your needs are met no matter what, the focus is no longer on ones’ self but elsewhere.

Harry Hawkins
Harry Hawkins

Very good post. For some reason most humans want to look at what is not happening instead of what they themselves can do.Go figure.

cherie
cherie

To be honest - I never took your line that way. I understood it to read find someone compatible, etc.

If you wait for someone to meet your needs - you are playing a similar role as "victim". 'Why does this stuff happen to me' is very similar to 'why doesn't he take out the trash'.

How do you react to both? Proactive or reactive?

Be the wise one and find a relationship that grows with love, communication and independence (sprinkled with sanity).

Connie
Connie

Whether our emotional needs are equal to our physical needs is really not the issue. I think the issue is who is responsible for meeting our needs? It's certainly none other than ourself. We are responsible for our needs, thoughts, feelings and all that goes to having them met. Not someone else. And noone can make your responsible for their needs without your permission. This point of view should most certainly be determined prior to any permanent agreements being made, but as people evolve, it should be ongoingly discussed and reviewed. Almost all issues can be resolved through the simple act of accepting responsibility for oneself.

Pierre Leyssac
Pierre Leyssac

So much it amazed to read yesterday your openly share of what we parttake in:

[If you buy one of my books, attend one of my seminars, or simply stop by this blog, you’ll find out what I’m thinking and doing right now.

My work is never presented as the definitive dogma or doctrine on how you should live your life.  It’s just thoughts on what’s working – and not working – in my own life at the moment.]

Being fully public self expressed with what to most uccurs as obvious private, could we ad this to our relationships? 

Global conversations. I so smile when I read your writhing "wordsmith". We do have this capacity for altering life - we can start new conversations. 

You're encouraging me to share with many more in my life   what’s working – and not working – in my own life at the moment.

Love and Respect

Pierre Leyssac, Copenhagen 

Yocheved Golani
Yocheved Golani

Randy, the simple & profound absence of a sense of nurturing the relationship - the other important person in a couple - is as startling as it is sad.

Friendships, romantic and marital love require giving to the other person. Taking exclusively is a destructive way to go. The hypervigilance about "What I'm getting" is selfishness, an absence of readiness to love.

Gosh, whatever happened to America's sense of donor nation, giver, global friend? It used to affect personal relationships, too. Americans have been known as givers for over 2 centuries. Has "It's ALL About ME" Hollyweird destroyed that mindset?

Yocheved Golani

Sarah Saint Amour
Sarah Saint Amour

Whatever you focus on you attract. The good the bad and the fantastic! :)

You focus on your partner not meeting your needs, and you get your wish- your partner not meeting your needs.

But I think the belief that you "need" another to complete you or help you meet your needs is flawed. What if you knew you had everything inside you to be, do and have everything you ever wanted? Including the right mate? What if it was your responsiblity to meet your own needs? Afterall, you really are the only one who decides if you want to be happy or not.

Or think of it this way...if you walk around "needing" a mate to meet your needs, what will you attract? A needy mate? hmmmmm.
Been there, done that..got the t-shirt and happily divorced.:)

Jim Story
Jim Story

Randy,

I am constantly blaming the other person in my relationships, until I say stop it. What is really going on here. It is never about them, it is about something that is bothering me.

When I focus on not withholding love and friendship, ( I was taught that very young) and what I can do for others, my little problems seem to disappear. Don't get me wrong if there is an issue I have I am free to speak it openly with love.

I have also learned that what others don't do is not a personal slight against me and that they are not mindreaders.

Thanks,
Jim

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