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Updated on June 1, 2008

Self-Focus Heals Neediness

by Helen Borel, PhD

Summing up from my companion article "Neediness Hurts. Self Focus Heals." (see the link, below):

Neediness on your part arises out of insecurities and confusion about mixed messages and lack of feedback from others. These disturbing, disrespectful and often out-of-the-blue behaviors by others evoke - in you - core vulnerabilities from a time you were too young to fully feel secure about who you are and about your loveability and acceptability to others beyond your childhood family.

When LOVE turns to REJECTION

When a seeming "love relationship" turns to the pain of rejection, you can't allow your anger and anxiety to cause you to fall apart. Instead, you must unearth what your partner's distancing behavior echoes inside of you. Then you should recognize that your true, full Self has nothing do with his awful-feeling behavior. And you can't demean your Self by allowing your emotional pain to dictate what you'll do next.

His Distancing Actions are Not Your Fault

Not that you did or said anything wrong in the first place that would have driven a mentally healthy man, sure of his own needs and character, away! It's also possible that you never acted needy at all, at least at first...but that, if you find yourself with a guy whose initial facade hid an insecure personality, or his behavior makes it clearer and clearer that you remind him of his mother (who must have had both positive and negative traits) who made him anxious, and so forth, he's going to become distant at some point anyway.

Maybe He's Looking to be Rejected by You

And maybe he wants you to reject him due to some paradoxical need to have you do so because, for some unexamined reason from his childhood, he feels rejectable. So he'd rather do something to push you away early in the "relationship," before he invests more of his love into it and ends up being rejected by you...a final blow he may feel he couldn't suffer easily.

In other words, his fear of rejection by you may cause him to unconsciously provoke rejection by you...the very thing he may believe he doesn't want, but that his counterproductive behavior induces in others, particularly when he gets involved in a "love relationship."

Clear Communications Let Others Feel Your Strengths

Clear communications come from knowing what you want, knowing what and who you don't want in your life, knowing what you will absolutely not put up with.

Not begging, cajoling, arguing, accusing, blaming. Not comparing now with before. Not asking, "Why?" The other person usually doesn't know why they are acting badly either, so asking why only confuses him more and often precludes a coherent answer. Certainly, you're better off not expecting one that, you may imagine, will satisfy your "needs" of the moment.

Stop Being a Doormat...and Get Back Up on Your Pedestal

Haven't you learned yet that you really can't figure other people out? (The first person who is able to do that will, most surely, win a Nobel Prize in Archeology of the Mind.)

It's not sane to think we can figure someone else out when not a one of us can figure ourselves out. Partially perhaps, a little bit most likely, but never fully. We never fully know our Selves throughout our lives. We can only get somewhat better at this Self-knowing as time passes.

So, you certainly can't change others - who you can never fully know - or mold them into some fantasy of what you'd like them to be. The only one you can change is Your Self...but being not fully known to your Self, that may not even be wise, that is if you are considering re-molding your Self to please some other person.

Don't become a Caricature of Your Real Self

Again, don't twist your Self into an emotional caricature of who You really are. It's never worth it. Not for any reason! Not for anyone!

When you force your Self to be compliant, available, loving without loving support in return, giving without a true balance of giving forthcoming from the other person, and the like, you will appear needy. You will be a doormat.

And nobody likes a doormat...except to wipe their muddy shoes on and then ignore. So don't be subordinate this way, or ever in any way. But, if you should take on this needy role, you will pay a high price for it in unrelenting anxiety (due to the true ANGER simmering inside you at being mistreated), sadness, tearfulness, agglomeration of symptoms that, if they continue, can lead to depressive mood states.

These low moods will alter the balance of your neurotransmitters (your brain chemicals), making you more vulnerable to even lower moods which will automatically make you feel more needy, more confused, more unsure of your Self. A vicious cycle you should do everything in your power to avoid.

Don't let another person's distancing behavior egg you on to becoming someone you are not - a sniveling, demanding, lonely, uncertain waif - waiting for the other person to respond in a mature and loving way. It won't happen!

The Main Principle to Combat Neediness: TAKE CARE OF YOUR SELF FIRST

When you take care of your SELF and your real needs FIRST, everything else works. And believe me, HE is not your real need. Even if he should turn out to behave himself and be the person you at first believed him to be, he is STILL NOT what you really need.

Another person is only a part, and often only a small part of what each of us needs in our lives! No one can fill gaps or holes that we perceive in our existence to make us feel filled up and all better all the time. Only you can do that, to some degree, for your Self. Yes, others will play roles, some more important and some less often, in your life. But NO ONE CAN GIVE YOU EVERYTHING!

So, being and acting needy (and sometimes, if you're honest with your Self, you'll realize you are not truly "needy," you just think you are) are behaviors that interfere with your real reality.

Don't do it anymore and your life will be better. Take a chance. Let the person, who has distanced himself from you, go. Do everything you want to do to make your Self feel good and whole. Don't ever rely on any one individual for your feelings of Self worth and Self-deserved love.

Get various kinds of love from various life situations, from work you care about, and from varied friends and family. When you put the spotlight back on your own Self, fully focusing on You, you won't need to be needy anymore!

For article one of this two-part neediness series, see:

Note: "Neediness" can come from some perceived "lack" or "loss" in childhood. Which can easily be worked through to a more secure level of feeling and functioning for you with a quality psychotherapist.

To find out more about emotional health issues and psychotherapy, email me at:

And feel free to read my other articles at this PSYCH NEW YORK site: So far they cover Insomnia, Alcohol Dependence, Social Anxiety Disorder, "Neediness Hurts. Self-Focus Heals." (part one of this "neediness" series), and "Getting the Most from Psychotherapy."


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      Merbit 5 years ago

      Great advice! I 'know' this stuff, yet, I never practice it quite when I should. Slow, slow, slow is the progress, but it is progress!

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      Ted 6 years ago

      I have been in such a low mood for a long time and have been diagnosed with depression. I believe very well that neediness can really cause psychosomatic pain. I have practiced one of your methods called the self focusing. But I never was fully focused. Sometimes, it even becomes and automated response to be needy. The cycle is really hard to break. Through some two years of research and awareness development, I knew what caused this neediness to manifest. And like what you have said, it really stems from childhood lost. Yet I was too young to know any better than trying to please others. I guess that is how dangerous rejections can be in the formative years since you are still developing your sense of self.

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      claudia 6 years ago

      thank you so much for this article. i've been in this kind of relationships all my life and i always select the same type of i cant deal with my anxiety and i feel that i need to get out of these cycles!!

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      Anya 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for this article. I did not realize myself I was much too giving and then the cyle of resentment was creeping in and destroying my relationships.

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      Seldom 8 years ago

      Wow! What great introspection. My marriage is great but from time to time I fall into this neediness syndrome. I feel better already and can't wait to put what you said into practice!!!

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      Miguel 8 years ago

      great articles! I am a needy man who is allowing a woman to use me as doormat. I will practice all your advice...Thanks a lot