How would you fill in this blank today? You have the right to need ______________. Quiet time? Acceptance? Time spent outdoors? Love? Snuggles from your partner? Gentleness? Validation?
Highly sensitive people (HSPs) tend to struggle with and fight against their own needs. We may try to talk ourselves out of our needs (“It’s my problem; I just need to get over it.”), or shove down our needs to try to make them disappear (by bingeing on Netflix or having one more glass of wine to distract ourselves). We may even try to guilt ourselves out of our needs—“There are so many people in the world who don’t have running water. It’s not ok for me to be worried about my hurt feelings.” Any of this sound familiar, dear sensitive souls?
Neglecting our own needs is something I see happen a lot. For one, we live in a culture that tells us to do more, work longer, multitask harder and never stop. “NEEDS? What are those? They’re not allowed here!” seems to be the message we get from a young age. If an activity isn’t competitive or doesn’t lead to more riches and fame, what’s the point? Even more, mainstream American culture has a tendency to ignore any so-called “bad” emotion and to completely neglect touch and interpersonal closeness. Add to that how sensitive folks feel their emotions more intensely, connect more deeply with other people and genuinely care about the problems of the world.
How can such feeling and caring not lead to needing?
The reality is that, of course, as human beings we all have needs. Needs can be as basic as food, clothing and shelter and as complex as needing to be accepted just as we are. We have physical needs (like the aforementioned), emotional needs (love, joy, anger, frustration, loneliness and so on), intellectual needs (to learn, grow, think), social needs (to have a support network), a need to have meaning and purpose in life and on and on. Being human means needing.
And, that’s okay. It’s more than okay—it’s necessary. It’s how we roll as sentient beings.
So, I invite you to check in with yourself. How are you today? Don’t give me the meaningless, “I’m fine” that we’ve been taught, but really, truly ask yourself, “How am I?” Then, listen.
You probably need some alone time and a quiet space to really hear your answer. Pay attention to any strong reactions that arise. There’s no need to judge these feelings, thoughts, sensations or urges. Just be curious. Where does that emotion come from? What is behind that urge? What does it need? If no strong reactions arise, that’s perfectly okay too. The key is to just ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” Remember to really listen and allow for anything to come up.
You deserve to have your needs met. Gift yourself this.
PS-Want to connect with other sensitive folks just like you, learn new skills and understand yourself better? You won't want to miss my HSP Online Support Group--1 spot remains.
Ivy Griffin, LMFT # 51714, Director
Thrive Therapy & Counseling
1614 X St., Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95818