The need to be needed...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

There is something about the human nature that always wants more. 'More' may mean quantity. 'More' could refer to quality. Or 'More' could simply be something entirely different. 

Let me give an example: As children, all we want is to be protected, loved, fed, clothed, cared for, e.t.c. But as we grow into adolescents, and ultimately adults, we begin to crave for more. We want to be sure that the homework we submitted meets the expectation of the teacher. We need to be sure that the meagre resources we bring back home is of value, and appreciated. And we want to be assured that our presence in whatever community we are makes a difference. 

The more in this case is a need, growing into the need to be needed.

Do we wonder why our aged parents/grandparents always find something to potter around the house, 'doing'? What of our over-zealous aunts, who would huff-and-puff because they were not invited to bear the 'burden' of organising a local meeting. Or why friends would keep malice at not being made the god-mother of their friend's baby. The answer lies in this need to be needed. 

With exception to infinitely indigent persons, no one (personally) wants to be regarded as 'redundant'. 

In some people, this need to be needed is heightened, while in others it is diminished. Some people possess the ‘rescuer’ complex, where they must always be ‘saving’ someone, or something, hence assuaging this need to be needed. 

Others shirk at the thought of being responsible for someone else’s happiness (or sadness). The nature of the need is usually determined by a combination of forces: childhood experiences, habits developed over time, genetic factors, and the nature/circumstances of the relationship in question.

Thus, you would be surprised that your immediate superior in the office fumes over a seemingly minor issue, and how you went 'over' her/his head in getting the job done. While every person rightly deserves to feel slighted in such instances, the nature and extent of her/his reaction would depend on the depth of her/his need to feel needed and to be relevant. While some superiors may simply mention it in passing that reporting lines should be adhered to, others may take actions as drastic as issuing a formal query, or some other punishment. 

(Now you understand what happened between you and that your oga ehhn??).

Truth be told, we cannot always take the fall for others' personal issues, and it would be unfair to live life trying to fill the holes in other people's lives (except you feel it is your calling). 

But depending on the nature of relationship, with the insight given, a little more sensitivity in our dealings with others may be required. It may range from as serious a case as the boss-subordinate instance above, or simply apologising to a friend for not placing her in charge of your wedding. You would be surprised to discover that even your gardener is unhappy that you seem to be giving the gateman some of his own work.

Bearing in mind that everyone craves a need to be needed, this can be applied in close relationships, by appreciating efforts of loved one, even when those efforts were not entirely solicited, or particularly helpful. 

In the latter case, while you may not desire repeated unhelpful efforts, you can let the other party know that their efforts are indeed appreciated. Let them know however, that where an opportunity arises in future when you need their help, you would not hesitate to call them. 

That way, s/he leaves knowing that the effort has been appreciated, and inwardly beams at the possibility of being helpful in future. But you have obviously set the pace by insinuating you would be the one to notify them of when such help is required, thereby avoiding unsolicited contribution, or 'help' that is not particularly helpful.

Let us try and observe the people around us by making mental notes on others' need to be needed, and let me know how it goes. (Don't forget to share your comments below!)



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