Unhealthy Needs (aka Dysfunctional Needs) … we all have them.
If, based on my presumption that everything we say, do, choose, or act upon is based on some need** we have … then we can reflect back on our actions and see that some of these choices weren’t the best for us. Yet we made those choices … somehow … and for some reason. Something inside of us … some need we had cried out to be met. And we sought to meet it. I call these “Unhealthy Needs” or “Dysfunctional Needs”
We ALL have unhealthy needs! And as we grow and learn about life in this world, we continue to have or get them, try to get them met, and then to hopefully learn from them (a subject for another day). If we’re aware, are concerned about them, and work hard, we can even discard them. But the point is that each of us is composed of hundreds or thousands of little needs demanding to be met. And of course some of these needs are not healthy to some degree (small or large). Unhealthy needs, while valid, are not in our best interest.
Maslow attempted to describe humans in terms of needs, but neglected to address these very VALID needs each of us have. Unhealthy needs are part of us, and in many cases, are glaring.
Let’s look at some examples:
My boss got on my case today because of some reason and yelled at me. This upset me and as I fumed during my drive home, I flipped another driver off (justified or not). Was this action the best for me? Doubtful.
My last boyfriend has a habit of getting angry and tasking it out on me … sometimes in an abusive way. Did I make a good choice in partners? Probably not. And as I look back … my last few boyfriends did the same thing. “Yes, I know I’m responsible for my choices in life, so why do I continue to choose partners who treat me disrespectfully?”
“I love my deserts!” I love them so much that I crave sweets after every meal! Are these choices in my best interest? The fact that I weigh 50 pounds. more than my doctor thinks I should is a hint toward that answer.
My parents belittled me as a child. They spoke over me and dismissed my opinions, were angry and yelled all the time, and taught me that in order to have my opinion heard, I needed to interrupt, speak loudly, not listen to others and to believe that my opinion was right. I learned … and worked my way through life bullying, being rude, and not being a very good friend. I became a manager and acted this way toward my subordinates. At my last job review my boss told me what I didn’t want to hear. He told me my team members did not want to work for me, were constantly under stress, and were not bringing their best work forward for fear of being ignored, intimidated, or dismissed.
What’s the point?
This discussion is not aimed at answering why we make choices and decisions not in our best interest. We can talk about those later. But for now, I want the reader to be aware that as we choose, and as we accept responsibility for our choices, it’s in our best interest to become aware … or mindful, of our choices. It’s a good thing to reflect back on our choices … preferably without judgment (ok, who can do that?), and START to think about them in retrospect. If we really want to understand why we do what we do … and we really want to improve the quality of our lives, this is the place to start.
The three stages of learning:
1) we look back and reflect on our choice
2) we mindfully consider while we choose
3) we consider before we choose
REMEMBER: we aren’t here to judge ourselves or others … we’re here to improve our lives by improving our choices and our actions. We have the responsibility of seeing our unhealthy or dysfunctional needs for what they are and deciding if we want to improve or accept things the way they are.
I’ll talk about more about Unhealthy Needs vs Healthy Needs in another post