Your happiness doesn’t depend on your needs

Your happiness doesn’t  depend on your needs
They are two different words (and even worlds) altogether: having needs and being needy. To me, one is a noun and the other is a verb. Okay, in my head! One has needs such as the need to wear sunscreen, and avoid going out in the sun or the skin will react; or having a need to eat regular meals or your stomach reacts. The other is ‘being needy’ of others’ attention or emotions, needing the reaffirmation from others about yourself. Of course, there is the universal need to be loved, appreciated and to make an impact in the world. These needs have are related to a common good. What we ‘need’ to do is to identify where our ‘need’ exists.

Sometimes, you can believe for the longest time that you need something very much; something has owed to you, so you change the way you think. Let’s take the example of a mother who needs the love of her children. She believes she loves them. She works for them and they need to reciprocate. They need to give her the same time and attention she gives them. It’s great till they are young, but when they

become teenagers, life takes over and time, energy, attention gets split. Then the day comes when your daughter brings home a son-in-law to be and all is lost! The future mother-in-law and son-in-law ‘snatch’ that time and attention that was rightfully the mother’s. Or so we believe as self-sacrificing mums. We believe something for so long in our mind that it becomes a built-in need. It gets hardwired into our personality. I say this with love and caution because being a mother is a hard job! One can become needy and dependent on ones children and then love starts wearing chains. The softest and gentlest emotions can turn clingy and spongy with neediness.

Take another example of a young girl in love. She is constantly in need of admiration, and needs her boyfriend to keep telling her how good she looks, and how fantastic she is. But there is a point in all relationships when we ‘just’ are. We grow into ourselves. We accept both ourself (as we are), and the person in the realationship, for who he/she is.

You have to make your life work, keep yourself happy and your sense of self worth intact. This means changing your way of thinking, stop worrying that we are not perfect, but fallible and fragile. We must believing that we make ourselves happy; in fact, stop asking for reaffirmation from the outside, rather take onus for your own emotions and needs. If one is hollow from the inside, emotionally impoverished and full of self-loathing, then it’s time to straighten yourself out. It’s not only a neat thing to do, but it’s the only thing to do! People who really overcome their neediness really inspire me, because they have finally found a good friend in themselves. To really wrangle with your soul, emotions, and turn your life around shows the indomitable human spirit. That will not be conquered, that will live to experience the real ‘joy of living and winning’.

Some simple tips: laugh a lot more, find something that makes you happy, playing with your pet, reach out to others, share anecdotes about your life that show how human you are, listen to others rather than demand from them, empathise, work for yourself not for reaffirmation from others, sit back and enjoy that hot cuppa chai and that glorious sunset, read a good book, then look in the mirror and smile a whole lot more!

(The writer is a theatre director and novelist)


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