Many of us have lost a sense of emotional closeness with the people in our lives. Some of us do not even notice that we are disconnected from our feelings of intimacy, because we live predominately in our heads. It can be a challenge to even locate our actual feelings, let alone to express them, because we are so caught up in what we are thinking and with all the judgments we have about ourselves and others. Unfortunately this reinforces our separateness and deprives us of the experience of emotional closeness that we actually need.
Not being connected to our emotional needs
When we live in a state of emotional alienation and have lost connection with our real emotional needs, we become reactive. Consequently, we become so fragile that small criticisms or misunderstandings can provoke large defensive reactions in us. We become insecure and are easily threatened by others. We fall prone to jealousy, envy, and feelings of exclusion. We are much more likely to misinterpret the intents of others. We get angry or withdraw from those close to us, because we basically do not have a way of coping with our feelings. We have little understanding of what is happening to us. It is hard to change these reactions without understanding that we are reactive because our actual needs are not being met.
Learning about our relational needs
It is easy to overlook the fact that our emotional lives develop in and depend on our relationship with others. Our sense of having a self comes from being related to in our families of origin. Even though most of us are independent of our original nuclear families, we carry the experience of our early relationships with us. We are social by nature and continue to need others to meet our needs. Whether or not our basic relational needs were met as we grew up, these needs continue to exist and exert emotional pressure on us when they are not being met. We need a certain amount of positive responses from others to sustain a stable sense of ourselves and to feel emotional closeness.
When our needs are met
When our relational needs are met, we have a stronger sense of our own selves and are more capable of establishing closeness and of dealing with the everyday differences and challenges of other people's needs. We can develop relationships where there is a mutual exchange of relating to our own and the other persons needs and on the other hand we realize that we are okay even in situations where we feel our needs are disregarded or not taken into consideration. This gives us the freedom to decide how we want to handle a situation, instead of only being able to react automatically. When we have a stronger connection to ourselves, paradoxically we can also feel more emotional intimacy.
What can we do
Learning to express to our significant others what we need from them and being able to hear and respond to their needs helps to bring a sense of emotional closeness. Because there are many more subtle needs than we usually are aware of, spending some time sensing what behaviors or words we need from our partners in everyday contacts helps us to regain our connection with ourselves and more understanding for their needs.
Copyright 2011 TruceWorks