To Yearn

Johnny Dep: yearning
Yearning for … ?

To YEARN / YEARNING: Have you ever wanted something, or someone so badly that it created an actual pain in your stomach or chest? Of course … we all have. We’ll call it “yearning”.

Yearning is the strong emotional feeling we have for an unmet need. It can be either conscious or subconscious, but we identify with the conscious aspect of yearning. The unmet need that powers our yearning is an ATTRACTING1 need not an REPELLING need. The feeling of sadness is often a part of yearning. Sometimes this sadness can bring tears … or can be so overwhelming as to bring about depression.

We don’t yearn to travel to places or enter situations where we feel uncomfortable.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines yearning as:

strong feeling of wishing for something, especially something that you cannot have or get easily:

“I suppose it’s because I live in a city that I have this yearning for open spaces.”

Some synonyms are: ache, pine, hunger, itch, languish, longing, crave, covet.

How does this fit into the Lowerarchy?

We usually feel yearning as the need to be with someone, the need to be somewhere, or the need to have something. It’s the very strong need for something we feel that we must have and currently do not have. Yearning often speaks of a desperation and is often accompanied by sadness and real physical pain. Many of us feel this physical pain as a sharp 1-time “pang” in the chest, stomach, or abdomen at the moment we are conscious of the need. Yearning is an unmet need, and unmet needs often show as pain, both emotionally (sadness), and as actual physical pain (aching or pangs). We yearn for what we feel we need, whether healthy or not, whether logical or not, whether achievable or not. We can yearn for people, lost pets, places to visit, states of being, tangible items, or basic physical needs such as food or water. The yearning is the need expressing itself in the consciousness … but in a demonstrable way. It’s a level beyond “want” or “avoid”. Yearning can get to be so strong that it manifests as a very real physical pain in the body … hence the words ache, or hunger.

The yearning need is usually a conscious need (see my post on Conscious / Subconscious Needs). In that sense we are aware of the need and the accompanying feelings the need brings. Those feelings can be emotional (crying) and/or physical.

Some examples of what it is to Yearn:

Girl Flying ... to Yearn
Yearning to be Free

11-year-old Melissa yearned to be able to fly so she could take to the air and leave her abusive father behind. She would have wonderful and fulfilling night-time dreams of soaring through the clouds to visit far-off magical (and safe) lands. In these dreams, Melissa was free [when she flew]. When she woke and left her special times behind, she would often immediately begin to cry and grieve for the realization of her current situation,, the loss of something special to her, and subsequently for the yearning need. This despite her brief time enjoying what she yearned for.

Yearning can drive us to do all kinds of things in our lives. We can get into debt making expensive purchase, travel distances to see someone or some place, steal, or hurt others. All in the drive to get the yearned need met.

Many times however, we’re at a loss as to how to get this most potent need met. Wanting to be with a deceased parent or child is a need that can never be met (in a physical way). Being free from captivity or a social or cultural situation can seem impossible to achieve. Needing to eat when there just isn’t any food available can trigger a horrendous fear.

The goal …

The goal here isn’t to present solutions to unmet yearning needs. We all must figure out what it is we yearn for and come up with our own solutions. We need to live with and manage the unmet need in order to move on in our lives. For many crying or grieving helps. For many talking or venting to a trusted friend, relative, or professional helps, for many writing or hitting a punching bag helps. These are all ways to help us “get it out” so that we can to alleviate and/or resolve the unmet need driving the yearning.

My friend Evan lost a cherished pair of grandparents. He wrote a wonderful letter to them telling how much he loved and missed them … and how much their passing affected his life. He sealed it in an envelope, took it to the grave, and burned it. Evan then sat and cried deeply. After a few months, the ache in his stomach subsided, although he’ll always miss his beloved grandparents.

Missing grandparents
… missing our grandparents

Evan will probably never lose his profound unmet need to have his grandparents back in his life. In other words, he may never get this need met. However, as he continues to process his loss, the pain he feels will lessen and the fondness he feels/felt will replace the sadness. This process can also be helped by seeing a professional counselor or therapist. Evan’s yearning may even disappear as he moves into a space of acceptance.

1 Attracting needs are ones we move toward, Repelling needs are needs we try to avoid.

Image Copyright: <a href=’’>christingasner / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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