What Do We Really Need?

Marie T. RussellWe humans seem to enjoy making life hard on ourselves. While there is almost always an easy solution to life's challenges, we get a charge out of exerting our will and making it go our way. We (ego) often try to force events to take place or to develop in the way that we want them to -- we try to impose our will on the energies of life. We push and we shove. We coerce bluntly or we manipulate gently. Yet, through it all, we mostly refuse to let go and let the river of life flow in its own meandering way.

Rather than live out our life from an energy of openness and love, we live it from the perspective of making things go the way we want. By behaving in certain ways, we try to 'force' others to love us -- we dress according to the acceptable fashion of the day, we buy the car that will earn us love, we even spout the opinions that are up on the popularity charts. All of this because we feel our own opinions may not be acceptable. The silent call keeps going out -- "Please love me." Some people send out that call by being rude and obnoxious. They feel that if people "really" love them, they will love them even if they are 'unloving'. So they act as if they don't need or want love, all the while hoping that people will love them anyway.

Why do we do this? Is it because we have a basic lack of trust in the process of life? Don't we believe that the Universe is on our side? We ultimately always get what we need, but not always what we desire. After all, we have so many desires, especially in this age of technology and advertising media. Yet our needs are few -- water, air, food, shelter, and love.

Due to the conditioning we have undergone through our upbringing, TV, radio, billboards, and advertising wherever we turn, we feel that our needs are many. We absolutely need that new...whatever the new item on your agenda is today. But do we? Haven't we found out that all those material possessions did not bring us love? Our ancestors knew it. All of us, whether as far back as thousands of years, or as recently as this decade, come from a race that has moved to another land leaving behind most of its material possessions. People abandoned most of their belongings out of a choice for religious freedom, or freedom from oppression, or simply from a desire for adventure.

Some of us have experienced leaving 'most of it behind' in this life ourselves -- sometimes in a move to another country, sometimes simply in a move to another location. Isn't it funny that when you move you realize how you accumulated all this 'stuff'? We seem to be 'stuff' magnets -- demonstrating our need for material security. Somehow we seem to think that security is equivalent with possessions. The more 'stuff' we have, the more secure we feel. And we end up surrounded by material goodies, sometimes to the extent that we don't even see the people in our lives any more.

We all want to be loved so much, that we sometimes feel we need to hide who we are so that others will love us. So we hide behind discussions of the weather (or current events or current soap operas), we discuss and criticize other people, we keep conversations superficial -- anything to ignore the fear inside..."Will I be loved?". We smile when we don't feel like it, we say yes when we don't mean it, we do things that go against the grain, all in order to be loved by others.

Some of us hide behind (or rather in front) of the television, others hide in books, in sports, in hobbies, in work, or in busy-ness (business). Others hide in making small-talk. We discuss everyone in our lives, even the people we don't know (celebrities, soap opera characters, the people in the news, sports stars, etc.), rather than open up and let others see deep inside of us. Why? We are basically insecure even when we have all the material trappings of 'security' around us.

This insecurity stems from one of our basic needs -- the need to be loved. Everyone on this planet, whether 'hardened' criminals or innocent children, needs to be loved. Love is the greatest healer, the greatest solution to all our ills, physical or emotional. The need for love drives some of us to strange acts -- some people even kill for love, others steal, others lie, or cheat, or connive.

Simply reach into the core of your being
and pull out the loving being that resides there.

Yet, where does that get us? It places us in a situation where we do not love ourselves. Because, if no one else sees the truth of our being, we do. We see the lies, the deception, the pretending, the false smiles. We hear the inner mental chatter -- the judgment, the blame, the criticism, the cynicism, etc. We hear that mental chatter, and we believe we are not lovable. For after all, how could someone love us if they knew what we are 'really' like? So, once again, we reinforce our belief that we must smile to hide the anger, be nice to earn the love, and generally bury our emotions in order to be loved by those whose love we desire.

Aren't we strange? We often take the long way around, when there is such an easy way to receive love. We simply need to be ourselves and to give love. Any time we need love, the solution resides in giving love. In the same way that if we crave attention, we simply need to give attention -- we will always receive as we give. There is no need to coerce, manipulate, or pretend. Simply reach into the core of your being and pull out the loving being that resides there. It may be a little dusty because it has been sitting on the shelf so long. Yet, it is there, and surely in good working order...it may simply need a little lubricant, and that lubricant is simply, you got it, love.

Love makes the world go round. Cliché? Maybe not. Things certainly have not been going roundly on the planet with wars, murders, rapes, thefts, and general unloving behavior patterns. It there was more love, a lot of these things would simply disappear. Pollyanna, you say? I think not. Reflect on it for a minute. During any war, if everyone had loved the people in the country they were fighting (instead of hating and fearing them), how could they have murdered them? (Oh, yes, I know, in wars we don't call it murder. Yet murder it is.) Would rape take place if love existed? How could someone who felt love towards you impose their will upon you? Happens all the time? I think not. What many people feel for and from others is not love, but manipulation and neediness. We need each other for whatever reason, so we coerce and manipulate, certainly not love.

Love simply because it feels good to love,
even if it is frightening at times...

What is the solution? First we start by forgiving ourselves and the others around us. After all, we were all looking for love, and simply not knowing how to get it. We were all deluded in thinking that our `forced' behavior would bring us love. So forgive yourself...you did the best you knew how. Forgive others, for they also did the best they knew. And go from there. Learn to love. To truly love. The way that children love before we "pollute" them with neediness, greediness, and fear of rejection. Love simply for the fun of loving, with no attachment to returns. Love simply because it feels good to love, even if it is frightening at times -- after all, we may be rejected, laughed at, ridiculed or simply ignored. But hey, it won't kill us. Rejection does not kill. It may hurt, but when we realize that the others are simply rejecting us because they have not learned how to love, it makes it easier to handle.

Then what do we do? Keep on loving. Not falsely, not behind a "plastic" smile, but from the true space of your inner being. From the reality of life that knows that no one is perfect, yet realizes that we are all doing the best we can at the moment.

Love, compassion, generosity, kindness, all of these are the medicine that the world needs, starting with ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, etc. Rather than dish out portions of criticism, mockery, and triviality, let's dish out portions of love... We'll have less indigestion, less illness, and much more happier returns. That's what we really need!


What Do We Really Need?Recommended book:

Love & Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health
by Dean Ornish, M.D.


Info/Order book


About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

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