In Making Sense of the Insensible l explore people's intentions, motivations and needs and what it looks and feels like from everyone's perspective.
Our reactions to others feedback can be challenging. Learning about ourselves through others eyes can be helpful and insightful. But it also has to be balanced with their intention, motivations and fears and our level of self-knowledge. There's a life time of learning by itself.
Sometimes people see us in a better light than we see ourselves. Our self-critic pulls us down and limits our self-perception and therefore our capacity to be all we can be. Sometimes people see our denials, self-deception, ego and insecurity when we think we are covering it or hiding it so well! When both our light and shadow is challenged we have an opportunity to embrace the feedback and grow or to shut down and protect our current reality. This is what the self-help industry is built on - teaching knowledge and skills for us to grow.
Very few people intentionally set out to hurt others, be selfish or damage relationships. But even intentions that most would consider "good" can end up being experienced as interfering, judgemental or projecting their values and beliefs onto others. Finding the balance between our perspective and experiences, and imposing our ways, can only be found through fully engaging in life with others and working out where the boundaries are.
Motivations can be either from our innocent needs or our sinister wants. Innocent needs stem from our desire to love and belong to others. The sinister wants stem from our desire to control and dominate others. Jealousy, envy and ego are the archetypal "ugly step-sisters" in our relationships. Any motivation stemming from jealousy, envy or ego will result in messy interactions and outcomes.
Our needs influence everything in our lives. They particularly play out in our relationships whether intimate, personal, family, acquaintances, work colleagues, or with our community. The very core needs we all share are the need to be loved, accepted, and approved of, to have a sense of belonging, and to matter and exist. Many of our other basic needs fit into these core needs.
I call our core and basic needs innocent because they are common to us all and within themselves are pure. Yes, many actions that stem from attempts to have our needs met can be experienced by others as less-than-innocent but it is important to separate our needs from our behaviours.
Let’s be clear here: say Sally is feeling really lonely and just wants to be loved and belong to someone special. She’s feeling really intense which means she’s obsessing over it and the pent up energy all this thinking is creating is becoming unbearable and overwhelming for her. She is thinking about all the times she felt hurt when what she really wanted was to be loved, accepted and approved of. She gets angry and that leaks out in her tone of voice when speaking to others. Or maybe she feels bitter and resentful and that oozes out in her tone of voice. Or maybe she feels sad and powerless and so sounds sooky, whiney and as if she’s complaining and feeling sorry for herself. The way Sally communicates seems to only push people away or evoke greater isolation as friends and family express their opinions to her and she feels less-loved, less-connected and less-okay.
So Sally goes out on the weekend looking for love from strangers. Desperate to gain attention she dresses in a certain style or dances provocatively. She drinks a lot to calm her nerves and give her more courage but then she ends up too drunk and has no controls over her behaviour. She might even end up sleeping with some random but deep down hopes he will really want to be with her. Of course he doesn’t, besides, for him Sally was just an easy lay. Devastated she does it all again next weekend and the weekend after that and on goes the pattern.
The needs to be loved and belong are core and pure, innocent and normal. The behaviours to get our needs met could be experienced in many other ways by those around us. Leaving morals, judgements and personal opinions to the side, the real issue with behaviours is that we keep repeating the same patterns that haven’t worked in the past and aren’t working now either.
Too often the reason is because we don’t stop and assess what is driving our fears. Yes, it’s fears that drive the behaviours. The needs are innocent. They exist and don’t require to have any therapy done to them. To be honest once we decide we don’t want to belong to anyone, to be loved, and connect with others we are in a state of pain and trauma. Again the pain and trauma need to be healed so we can return to our humanity.
It is the fear, that not having our needs met, says something about us. We don’t want to face what that something might be or to even question if it is true or real. Instead we avoid the fear by acting out behaviours we hope will lead to having our needs met.
Relationships become complicated as fears; sinister wants, ego, jealousy and envy poison the soil and water that feed them.
What has been your experience of needs, motivations, and intentions in your relationships?