I had the wonderful privilege of witnessing up close, a masterful and caring psychotherapist (Dr Richard Erskine) in action for 3 days over the recent weekend, and now, am finally coming up for a long breath of cleansing air…
There were many Aha! moments, to be sure, during those few days packed with insights from someone who has lived and breathed a life of helping people work through issues and crises. And in those moments I feel most humble, human and alive. One such illuminating moment was when we discussed about the dominant, universal needs people have that cut across boundaries of age, race, gender, geography, sexual orientation, et cetera. I guess most of us in our personal moments of discovery, know that we are unique yet we share many aspects of our humanity and needs with our fellow earthlings. Same same but different, I think you know what I mean.
The eight dominant ones we talked about were the universal needs for security (to feel safe), validation (our thoughts and feelings matter), protection from a wiser, older presence, to rely on someone, for shared experiences (to help us feel connected and understood), self definition (not about being labelled by others, but being aware of our own personhood), for agency and efficacy (to be able to impact and influence), to have someone else be the initiator (need to feel someone else reaching out to us) and…before the 8th need was talked about, I thought I knew the answer to that one!
Surely we all have a need to be loved right? It was just too obvious.
Then when Dr Erskine said, “And finally, we all need to express love…”.
It took me a few seconds to check that I heard right. Express love, not get love?
He talked about a real need we each possess to be thankful, show appreciation to others, God and the Universe, and this can only happen when most of our psychological needs are met and we feel abundant inside, and hence, able to express and give genuine love.
I finally understood. The Aha landed. If the first 7 needs are pretty much taken care of, then we will already feel love. There will be no need to go around seeking love separately as if it were hanging around as an ingredient to be plucked from somewhere mysterious, in order to complete us. “Did I not receive the memo when it was sent out and missed out on getting some love? Shit.”
When we howl and cry for love in our loneliest, deepest, darkest moments, aren’t we really crying out to feel safe, validated, heard, to be understood, to matter, to be protected and not simply loved? When someone says I love you – what does he/she mean? What do you expect that love to mean? And, what are we prepared to give and show to those we love so that they can rely on us, feel validated, secure, listened to, connected and whole, not simply loved?
Isn’t life a wonderful journey and aren’t we fascinating?
Stay in awe.