June 3, 2016

Living Mindfully with Neediness: How to Stay Present, even when it Hurts.

couple, holding hands

In the last year, I have returned to mindfulness as a practice to help me navigate my life’s journey.

I have relearned to sit in the present, outside of my own judgement, and just be in the moment. I know that I need to see where I am and what I feel in order to remember who I am and what I want.

As much as I benefit from this practice, I also find great difficulty in it, because mindfulness often leads me to this realization: I am “needy.”

By needy I mean: I need a lot of attention, affection, understanding and validation, and I need people in my life who are willing to accept that my emotions are at surface level and they are huge.

I have come to learn that part of my challenge with practicing mindfulness is that it puts me right in the middle of all my emotions, and that is not always a comfortable place to be, especially when so many of my emotions are still tied with my relationships with others. Even as I sit here writing, I feel the ache of still needing more. Even as I learn to fill my own voids and give myself the love and attention I deserve, I still need more.

And in the honesty of this moment, mindfulness can hurt. Being aware that this need is not being filled is painful and would be much easier to ignore. But I listen to my desires and this is what I hear: I need the phone call that says I am on his mind, the email that tells me I make a difference, the text message that reassures me that I am not alone. I know I need a deeper interaction, a more passionate conversation, a more emotional display of human contact. The practice of sitting and being in communion with these feelings often has me thinking that I am failing in reaching beyond my struggles and that I am still too tied to the behavior of others in my spiritual journey. I take on the label of “needy” and all its negative connotations and sit with that, too.

I remind myself that mindfulness is a practice not a finale; there is work to be done.

I continue to delve into these ever present feelings, and I am finally starting to see something different. In the past, I have seen this neediness as a quest for the approval of others, the acceptance of an individual or a group, or at it’s very worst, my inability to create happiness for myself. But now, as I go deeper and deeper past what I have learned to what I really know to be true, I see my neediness does not come just from my desire to receive love, but it flows from my desire to give love just as completely. It is only in those moments of giving and receiving love that I feel like I am my whole self. It is only then that I feel my purpose and my direction. It is not the acceptance of others that I seek, it is the soulful connection with them. When I am truly mindful of the present, I know that my soul’s desire is for this deeper revelation of interconnectedness.

My neediness is not a problem to be solved, it is a manifestation of who I am. I am love waiting to experience myself.

And sometimes that leaves me in a very lonely, uncomfortable place of wanting and waiting, but that is exactly where I have to sit. And that is where I practice my breathing and practice letting go of my own judgement and my expectations of others. And as I feel my needs begin to overwhelm me, I stop and acknowledge them one by one. I tell myself that not every need must be filled in my time or in my way. Or maybe the void is there to stay because I need to experience this emptiness just as it is.

The most important part of this time is to feel what I feel without censoring…and pause there.

I tell myself that my neediness is directly tied with my ability to give, and for that abundant desire to give and to love deeply, I am truly thankful. And then I watch as my present focus becomes the gratitude for the urge to feel life fully, and I sit with that knowledge and breathe.



Author: Andrea Byford

Image: Pixabay

Editor: Emily Bartran

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