The influence of divorce on my needs

 

house and family

Our needs can be grouped together such as basic needs (food, warmth), safety (home, security), relationships (partner, family) and higher mind needs (work, leisure).

After a crisis, our needs return to basics before moving to needs higher up. The ending of my marriage was such a crisis and as everything crashed down, I coped by focussing on the basics of eating a healthy diet, walking in the mornings, following a routine during the day and cocooning myself in the warmth of my bed at night. I was in a survival mind-set of fulfilling basic needs as all else was gone; my perceived safety, my security, my family unit and my companion. As I continued to crave the comfort that my home and routine provided, I wondered whether I would remain there. Could I ever move on to higher needs?

I had become confused about my needs.

There is a difference between my needs, including emotional needs, and those things that fill those needs. My needs have actually not changed. What has changed are those things that previously satisfied them. I had been clinging on to the concept that I needed the same type of ‘satisfiers’ to provide for my empty needs. Taking an honest look, my needs are not a home, a sound financial asset base, a life-companion, work, hobbies and experiential pastimes. They are satisfiers of my needs, not the needs themselves. My needs are stability, security, a sense of belonging, a need to contribute and create, and a need to celebrate the joys (and sorrows) of life. What is gone is the person and shared projects that previously satisfied those needs. What I need to do going forward is to find other things and other ways to fulfill those needs.

In regard to need satisfiers, you can receive them, be self-reliant, or give them. As a simple illustration: people in third world countries can be provided with food hand-outs or they can be taught how to be self-sufficient and grow crops. The first aids a continual need to be provided for, the latter aids self-reliance and improved community spirit.

One of the consequences of my divorce in regard to needs is that it moved me from a self-reliant ‘I need to do’ and contributing ‘I need to give’ strength to a fragile ‘I need to have, I need to be provided for’ mind-set.

My confusion over needs versus satisfiers and my fragile ‘I need to have’ mind-set together have influenced both life decisions I made in the months post separation as well as some day-to-day choices.

Life decisions:

I need to feel safe and comforted. My home provides me with safety and comfort.
I need security. The job I have provides me with financial security.
I clung on to my home and my job in the year post separation.
Those satisfiers for my daily comfort and security conflict with my long-term need for belonging as my children and family live far away. Therefore despite the daily comfort, there remains an ache. A year ago I looked at my real underlying needs as opposed to merely things that satisfy and I made the decision to change for my forward journey.

Daily choices:

I sometimes have feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger, resentment regarding my divorce. These are voices of pain ‘I am scared’, ‘I am lonely’, ‘I do not matter’ and ‘it’s not fair’.
These voices reflect my underlying needs of security, belonging, significance and respect.

In my last post I wrote how I now recognize those voices of pain as a call to protect my present. While it is tempting to go for a passive need satisfier providing comfort (watching TV,  over-eating etc) or leaning on a confidante who will provide a sympathetic ear; that keeps me at the ‘I need help’, ‘I need to be comforted’, ‘I need to have’ mind-set. I need to transform that ‘having’ mind-set into ‘being’, ‘doing’ and ‘giving’ strengths while providing for my own needs of *protection, *connection, *creation, *contribution and *celebration.

 

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*I have created these new terms for my own needs as creativity is a ‘doing’ need of mine and that is my start :).

You may also want to read:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Tony Robbins six needs
Max-Neef Human Scale Development.

ImageCourtesyOf[Smarnad]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

26 thoughts on “The influence of divorce on my needs

  1. Elizabeth – you never fail with great “eye-opening” posts! This particularly resonated with me…
    “One of the consequences of my divorce in regard to needs is that it moved me from a self-reliant ‘I need to do’ and contributing ‘I need to give’ strength to a fragile ‘I need to have, I need to be provided for’ mind-set.”
    I seem to be feeling this freakish dependence that I have never seemed to feel before the split…even a counselor that had seen both my ex and me right after the split and then again just me earlier this year (2 years later) made a comment to me that it seemed that I was more “protected” against his actions before then I am currently…and she wondered “why”?! I think your assertion struck at the heart of it…
    Thanks again, for helping me see through the fog. 🙂

    • I have been pondering this. I think that in the beginning I had the strength from ‘yesterday’ fresh in my mind and I felt resilient and defiant. Then the brutality of the intimate betrayal sunk in and the fragile child took over me. I am gradually now learning how to re-build my balanced adult persona. Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate your feed-back and am buoyed by your encouragement of me.

  2. I agree with Making Sense — you never fail to inspire me, and enlighten me, with your eye opening posts.

    For me, one of the things I have discovered is that I am okay — without needing someone else to fulfill on my need to feel happy — I am responsible for my own happiness. period. 🙂

    Love this post. Thank you!

  3. I really admire your ability to sort the wheat from the chaff. It’s a gift that you are putting to excellent use in analysing yourself and your circumstances. I wonder how many other people are able to discriminate between their needs and the satisfiers? Thanks for another great post xx

    • It takes while to get to that point. In the beginning there was so much grief at the ‘things’ I had lost rather than my needs being unsatisfied. However, realising the distinction now does help to think of ways to fill up those holes. .

  4. That was amazing! You just opened my eyes to what I know deep down but am in need of clarification. Thanks for the inspiration this morning.

  5. Elizabeth, you never cease to amaze me. I cannot express how important your words are in my world. Thank you for sharing your truest self with us. My heart hugs yours! ❤

  6. It’s so easy to feel like the needy victim, particularly when the world wants to paint you that way. Love to see you taking control of the picture.

    • I think there have been several phases. I wasn’t (in control), then I was, then I wasn’t and now this is the second time of gaining control again and it is much slowly, deliberate and (hopefully) permanent. Thanks for your comment. I like your analogy of being an artist and painting the picture.

  7. Life decisions:
    “I need to feel safe and comforted. My home provides me with safety and comfort.
    I need security. The job I have provides me with financial security.
    I clung on to my home and my job in the year post separation.
    Those satisfiers for my daily comfort and security conflict with my long-term need for belonging as my children and family live far away. Therefore despite the daily comfort, there remains an ache. A year ago I looked at my real underlying needs as opposed to merely things that satisfy
    and I made the decision to change for my forward journey.”

    Dear Elizabeth, you wrote all this under: “Life decisions”
    You say: “I made the decision to change for my forward journey”.
    Well, whatever this decision to change is, I wish you the best of luck and happiness in doing what you have planned on doing. I think as soon as we decide in sticking to do what we have set out to do, we can feel content, and feeling content does mean we experience some kind of happiness. Congratulations for doing exactly what you feel is the right thing for you to do.
    Count your blessings: A job and a home, it is not a bad start hanging onto this and seeing value in this. From this a whole lot of other things can result, like travelling, visiting family, and eventually retirement in a place of your choice. And maybe, maybe, there is a chance you get to know some more interesting new friends! 🙂

    • Ah yes, but the decision is to give up those things (home and job) to move away closer to my children and to start afresh. It is a quite a process to do that (as the ‘job’ is actually a business to sell). Thereafter life will be hugely different but less stressful, I am hoping.
      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.

  8. I really admire your honesty with yourself and the clarity that you have found about your life – it can be difficult to make the distinctions you have between what we have used to fill a need and the need itself. Many never see the difference and continue to make the same choices over and over.

    • Yes, it has made a huge difference to my feelings of contentment. It is so great to know one does not have to find a ‘person’ or a ‘thing’ to fill your needs. There are many many alternatives. Thanks for your kind comment.

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