How to Prevent Hidden Personal and Emotional Needs from Ruining Your Life
In one of my Coach Yourself to Success Premier Online call-in hours, we discussed why we keep negative or self-defeating behaviors in place. It is easy to see the costs of an unwanted behavior, but it isn’t so easy to see the benefit or payoff. If there were no benefit, then we would quickly eliminate the undesirable habit or activity. If chocolate cake wasn’t so yummy, then we wouldn’t be tempted to overeat it. One life coaching strategy to becoming a better, more effective human being isn’t to focus on the costs, but rather to figure out what the hidden benefits are. Once you figure that out, then the negative behavior often disappears without any effort or struggle. In most cases, there is some hidden payoff that we are getting that we aren’t consciously aware of that keeps the behavior in place. It can often be the same reason we might stay in a bad relationship even though we know we need to end it and move on.
Let’s take the example of a shop-aholic. Rhonda didn’t just like shopping, she had to buy something. In fact, it was hard for her to enter a store and come out without buying at least something, even if just a trinket. As a result, it is no surprise that she had racked up some significant credit card debt and had tapped into her overdraft. It had gotten to the point where every month her paycheck simply paid off her overdraft and brought her balance back to zero. Yet despite the obvious financial stress she was experiencing, Rhonda continued to shop. The obvious solution is to tackle the negative behavior itself — to cut up her credit cards and stop shopping. The problem with this approach is that it fails to address the underlying reason why Rhonda felt so compelled to shop in the first place. In this case, an unfulfilled need to be cherished. Every time Rhonda bought something, she felt momentarily cherished. Her addiction to shopping was really an unconscious attempt to satisfy her unmet emotional need to be loved and cherished.
The problem is that you can never get enough of what you don’t really need. No quantity of new shoes or new clothes could satisfy her because what Rhonda really needed was to have sweet nothings whispered in her ear, her hair gently stroked and the car door opened for her. Once Rhonda identified her real needs and found healthy ways to satisfy them, she discovered she could go into a store and walk out without feeling like she had to buy something. Now that is solving a problem at its source!
Our personal and emotional needs, whether we are aware of them from moment to moment or not, have the power to drive us to do the craziest things – everything from over-spending to over-eating just for starters. Most people don’t know what their top four personal and emotional needs are yet expect their romantic partners to know what their needs are and to fully satisfy them. An unrealistic expectation to say the least!
If you don’t know what your personal and emotional needs are, they could be running your life and, left unrecognized long enough, they even have the potential to ruin your life by driving away the people and opportunities you desire.