Sounds pretty harsh, right? It would be nice to believe that everyone out there is interested in us like an ideal parent but they really just want to know –in this information laden world—whether they should pay attention.

However, lets turn the tables around and think about how we are to others. Are we only interested in others for what they can give us? Do we show them care and attention just because they are human or do we think of them as tools to fulfill our needs?

I am not just taking about strangers, I am talking about friends and family. If you are like most people you think more about how they can fulfill your needs or give up on your own needs to fulfill theirs. Neither of these is a good option.

Believe it or not teaching this is a foundational element of therapy. Learning to be in real relationship rather than an egocentric one is paramount to our fulfillment. Why? Because we are destined to be disappointed if we really think that the people in our lives are there to meet our needs.

Now you might be saying: This is not me. I don’t do that. But, I bet you do. All of us do sometimes. So what does this behavior look like? Here are some examples:

  • Do you get angry if people do not share your opinions?
  • Do you expect people to understand you without you needing to explain?
  • Are you unaware of your own needs? Or, tell yourself you can’t meet them because you need to meet someone else’s?
  • Do you expect those close to you to share your feelings on events in your life?
  • Do you make plans without considering the other persons needs or only considering the other persons needs?

You can probably see where I am headed. The problem with this way of being is that because our expectations are unreasonable, we end up unhappy. Always being focused on getting our needs met from outside and not figuring out how to be more stable on the inside results in a loss of fulfillment as well as broken relationships.

What can you do about it? This one is not as easily solved as some problems. You really need to commit to doing some deep inner work. The kind of work I do in my LifeWork Retreats where you have the opportunity to dig deep and get guidance on how you can grow.

by Dr. Kate Siner