How can I meet my own needs?

It’s not their problem to solve or their need to meet. It’s yours.

When I find myself wanting someone else to do something for me, especially when it’s related to some emotional need (attention, validation, love, acceptance, compassion, etc.) that I want them to meet for me, I have a question that always helps me sort myself out: “If _________ was not part of your life, how would you meet your own needs right now?”

This can be applied to parents, partners/spouses, friends, and even coworkers.

We often pass off the responsibility to meet our emotional needs to all sorts of people around us, even those that we don’t have a meaningful personal relationship with, like colleagues or strangers on the internet.

This never really works, of course, but in the absence of a better plan, we often keep trying and trying and trying even though it seems like other people keep failing us.

And fail us they do, and always will.

And that’s okay – they are janky, messy humans just like us.

They will never be able to flawlessly read our minds and have all the emotional skills and abilities and bandwidth and desire to immediately meet our long and highly nuanced list of needs. So, what then?

Do it yourself. It’s your job anyway.

Yes, it feels really good to have your best friend or partner do or say exactly the right thing at the right time, but ultimately, the responsibility to feel love, acceptance, validation, esteem, respect, and compassion rests squarely on your own shoulders.

This lesson has taken me 40 years to learn about halfway as well as I need to learn it, but I’m getting there.

This stuff is bloody hard work, but the better I get at validating and self-soothing and taking responsibility for all my own needs, the less hurt and frustrated I am when people around me don’t respond the way I would prefer.

So next time you feel resentful or rejected by someone, ask yourself how you could meet your own needs, and then… go do that.

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  • RP

    This might be my favorite thing you’ve said.
    I need to work on meeting my own needs and I’m grateful I have so many different people who help meet them. But it’s sooo hard to figure out dealbreakers though. At what point does one speak up needing a change to be made? When is time to say “I NEED ______?” It’s hard.

  • Cassandra Dee Endicott

    This post couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time for me. I was only telling my partner yesterday exactly what I needed him to say to make me feel reassured, here I was thinking I was being cool calm collected, and articulating my feelings, when really I was asking him to be responsible for my feelings.

  • Lynn

    Yes! I find this is a recurring theme in my life and I work on it as well. Same thing goes for “things”. Things cannot meet your every need; food, alcohol, shopping…we all have those things that we try so hard to use to meet our needs, when in reality, we can handle this ourselves. Constantly a work in progress!

  • Ann

    When we take the point of view or attitude of being totally responsible for what we bring into our lives (same thing as what comes to us) life takes on a different hue. We move from victim to empower. When we use our power in a constructive way the benefits are amazing. Life’s experiences are meant to help us grow, even if it is uncomfortable. Karma is remedial not punitive.

  • Candace Bordelon

    OMG this. I’m just now discovering this and working on this at age 49. I’ve always been that “gold star” kind of person. Please pat me on the head and tell me I’m smart, etc. I recently posted some information on a nutritional Facebook group and promptly received an email by the administrator, telling me she didn’t want any confusion on who the “coach” was so she deleted my post. I allowed myself to get upset and feel rejected and unpopular at this all morning, but now I’m thinking about what I really want to do, and how I can move that forward. I appreciate you exposing your vulnerabilities to us and please know that it allows others to discover more about themselves and their own behavior.

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