In this post in our series exploring our true identity, we’re going to look at unmet needs. We have 10 essential emotional needs that we’re all seeking to fill: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Support, Encouragement, Affection, Respect, Security, Comfort, and Approval.
How might we react to life if our emotional needs are routinely unmet needs?
Perhaps like Joanna, who summarized herself this way: “A worm doesn’t adequately describe how I feel about myself. A worm can crawl underground and hide without leaving a trail. I’m more like the ugly slugs on my patio. Everywhere they go, they leave this horrible trail behind them. That’s what I’m like; I mess up everything wherever I go.”
Perhaps you also had a demanding, perfectionist parent who pushed you to be the best at everything. In his attempt to get her there, Joanna’s dad used humiliation as his primary method of motivation. His pet names for her were Dummy, Slowpoke, Clumsy, Tubby, and Numbhead. NOT empowering, right? The more mistakes Joanna made, the more humiliation he dumped on her.
Not surprisingly, Joanna entered adulthood with an I-can’t-do-anything-right attitude burned into her subconscious. Joanna internalized that she wasn’t worthy of having her needs met.
It’s incredibly sad that Joanna’s faulty self-view and distorted sense of identity has imprisoned her in depression, self-condemnation, and despair. In essence, Joanna is limping through life, unable to believe in herself, or others, because she has no idea that she is incredibly valuable in the view of the only source that truly matters: God. It’s a dismal and frustration way to live! Especially if you’re still stuck there after decades of life.
Let’s delve into the ten emotional needs. If you find yourself wincing at some, perhaps even feeling shame that it hurts so much to feel so needy, jot them down so you can talk them over with God. Healing can be yours, Girlfriend!
Our Top Ten Emotional Needs
Need #1: Attention
We all need people to think about us and convey appropriate care, interest, concern, and support for us. We all want to be noticed for the good in us. Unfortunately, some of us have only been reminded of our mess-ups or imperfections. If we hear enough times that we are lacking, that’s what we start to believe. Women with a poor sense of identity can be so needy that they are incapable of giving selfless attention to others. Withdrawn, timid, and scared, others may view these damaged persons as being uncaring or egocentric. Others may not realize that their self-perceived inadequacy prevents them from having the courage to reach out and care for others.
Know anyone stuck in this pattern of needing to be noticed by others? If we seek out God’s continuous attention, we will find it! He is ALWAYS near.
Need #2: Acceptance
We’re all dying to be fully accepted, warts and all. The problem with seeking acceptance from people, however, is that we allow others to determine our worth. So our perception of our worth is in constant flux. When you’re around people who affirm and praise you, you feel worthy, right? But when you’re around critical friends, family members, or co-workers, does your sense of self-worth plunge? If so, you are enslaved to the opinions of others.
Ladies, parking here does us no good. The only way to break these chains is to accept that God FULLY ACCEPTS us, no matter what! Our worth to Him is NEVER based on our performance.
Need #3: Appreciation
We all want people to communicate to us that they appreciate us and are grateful. But our need for being appreciated can cause us serious problems if our expectations for how others should show us that appreciation is skewed or unrealistic. Gals, if you anticipate being rejected, cheated, and depreciated, your own self-defeating behaviors—including distrust and suspicion—may cause these very things to happen to you.
What can you do when you feel unappreciated? Allow God to remind you that He totally digs YOU.
Need #4: Support
Some days are really hard to get through without someone coming alongside us to remind us that we’re not walking through life alone. We all need others to occasionally help us carry problems or struggles. When our need for support goes unmet, it’s so easy to believe that our needs are unimportant.
God already knows your needs, but He wants you to bring them to him and trust that He will help. God is always working on our behalf, even when we can’t see it.
Need #5: Encouragement
Our need for encouragement means that we need people to urge us forward, but to also inspire us with courage, spirit, or hope. If you need constant encouragement, your self-esteem has definitely been affected. Imagine how Joanne’s self-image would have significantly improved if her dad had praised her for her efforts.
An environment of criticism, blame, and humiliation injures the spirit, shakes the confidence, and crushes motivation. But how cool is it that God BELIEVES in us! It may take baby steps, but when we start believing this, we move from self-loathing and distrust to knowing that we can do all things God asks of us, as His word promises!
You are special! Unique! YOU are the only person on the planet who can do the work God birthed YOU to do!
Need #6: Affection
Most of us need others to communicate their care for us through affirming words, and studies have shown that physical touch is critical to most of us feeling good about ourselves. Some gals seek out sexual encounters to feel that someone thinks they are special.
Ladies, don’t give your body to be used up by others. Pour out your need to God. I find comfort in reading some of my favorite verses about God’s love for me, but I also seek out songs that remind me just how much He cares. This YouTube playlist is one of my favorites!
Need #7: Respect
We all need for others to hold us in high esteem and recognize our worth. We yearn to feel that our unique personality and contributions are needed. Some people use power and manipulation to feel they have the respect of others. But intimidation leads to fear, not respect. If we think that others find us unimportant, we often view ourselves as unimportant.
Once you personally experience God’s love, whether through studying His word or discovering it through the tender care of those others, no one can take this truth from you!
Need #8: Security
We all need to feel safe. So we appreciate when people protect us from danger, deprivation, and harmful situations and relationships. Insecure people often depend on a stockpile of material possessions for security. They may also need a significant amount of structure and external control in their lives to feel safe. They may tend to be pessimistic about the future, and expect the worst to happen.
We can break this thought pattern by claiming God’s promises! God says, “You are secure.” Philippians 4:19, for example, says: “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Ladies, take this verse and personalize it: “I can be secure, because God has promised to supply all my needs! God is with me always!”
Need #9: Comfort
We all have need of people to ease our grief and pain, as well people who give us strength and hope. When we get hurt emotionally or relationally, God’s prescription for healing includes the loving comfort of others. Those who suffer life’s deep hurts alone sense that they must not be worth much to the people who ignore their pain and need for comfort. So hurting people often erect barriers between themselves and others to prevent future hurt. The end result is relationships that are strained instead of nurturing.
One of the most frustrating parts of life is finding ourselves unable to relate authentically with others. To tell them when we need them, to tell them when they’ve hurt us, to tell them we’re sorry for hurting them.
But with God’s help, we can lower our pride and give people a chance to see us walk in truth.
Need #10: Approval
We naturally seek the approval of those around us, and align ourselves with those who make us feel that we’re okay, just as we are. If you got the message as a child that you nothing you do was good enough, you probably view yourself in a negative light. Bottom line: people who don’t feel loved, logically assume they are unlovable. They not only project this perception on others, but can also subconsciously behave in ways that communicate, “Don’t get too close because I’m not worth it.” Persons who feel unloved often become rigid and inflexible. Christians who can’t grasp God’s love become legalistic in their worship, perhaps thinking they have to pray longer, attend every service, and accept more responsibilities at church to “earn” God’s approval.
Ladies, we all need to remember that God unconditionally loves us—apart from whatever we accomplish or contribute. No matter whatever messes we bring Him. Hallelujah!
See Yourself as God Does!
Ladies, it is entirely possible to align our view of ourselves with God’s view of us—no matter how far we think the leap to be! How does this amazing transformation take place? Three doable steps:
1) We accept that God loves us.
I love that Joyce Meyer once used lipstick to write “God Loves Me” on her bathroom mirror—and kept repeating the phrase over and over and over until one day she realized with a start that she believed it! Get out your lipstick! It’s time to get this truth down deep into our hearts!
2) We commit ourselves to absorbing the character of God by studying His word.
Sweet Peas, please don’t be one of those defeated Christians who doesn’t know the power of the Bible! Write scriptures down on index cards and put them EVERYWHERE to remind yourself of how God sees you. Place scripture notes on your fridge, your car, even your bathroom mirror. The visual reminders help!
3) We allow mature, loving Christians to help us reshape our self-portrait until we see ourselves as Jesus does.
It’s important that we spend time with people who build us up with God’s love. Ask God to bring girlfriends into your life who will help you to walk in your true identity. Gals who will remind you of Jeremiah 31:3: That YOU are fully loved and accepted—day in and day out—for all time!
See you next week, when we talk about how our parents greatly influenced our self-worth. Don’t miss it!
Our 12-Week Journey Through Our True Personal Identity
Part of rightly understanding our true personal identity requires that we know how God sees us. As our loving creator, God says two things to us: “You are my child,” and “You are chosen.” Do you sense God’s heart toward you? Can you wrap you mind around the truth that God was thinking about you before He even created the world?
Let that truth sink into the depth of your heart and mind. It may take a lot of determination on your part, but as you begin to realize just how valuable you are in God’s eyes, you will be able to break the chains that keep you from accepting and loving yourself. You can drop the burden of what other people think — and the judgments you hold for yourself!
During this 12-week blog series, we’ll post about personal identity. Each post will include a song to remind us of the truth of how God sees us. Our song this week is Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells. Tauren has it exactly right: “You’re God of the Hills and Valleys. I am NOT alone!” Accept this truth to experience the true joy of being YOU!
This blog series is based on Josh’s book See Yourself as God Sees You. It is our prayer that during this series you come to recognize and accept your true personal identity! God couldn’t love you more!