Do you ever find yourself in relationships where you want something more, but don’t know how to get there?
You are not alone.
We all crave more authentic and honest connection. One of the reasons social media became so quickly a staple of daily lives is because it offered an experience of immediacy with friends and strangers around the world, right at our fingertips!
But does it really meet that need? For some, perhaps. There is a certain comfort and connection offered by social media that can work in the short term, but often, we want more than it can provide. It’s like having a snack to tide you over till dinner, when what we are hungry for is a main course. We’re all hungry for something more filling than anything a tweet or status update can offer.
For years I felt at a total loss about how to connect with strangers- and as a result had very few friends. Working in customer service for years helped my with casual social skills, but this didn’t provide the kind of deep, personal connections I was craving. I felt like I was trying- but what I was doing wasn’t working. Even in my romantic relationships I found myself wanting something richer, and not really knowing what that was, or how to articulate it.
I thought I needed to try harder, but that seemed to make connecting more challenging. So instead, I tried doing different things. And, what I eventually came to realise is that, at the core, all my actions were about seeking authentic, intimate connections; ones where it was safe to be vulnerable, courageous, and radically honest.
At our core, we each have fundamental human needs: shelter, warmth, comfort, purpose and so forth. Depending on our early life experiences, some of these become more of priority than others. And when a particular need has gone unmet, it can form a core wound, that can influence and drive us in all our adult interactions.
It can feel scary to try and directly address those core needs. The stakes are high- and it is natural to experience some fear and trepidation around being rejected for what we want. Even more intimidating- what if we get what we wanted, but it doesn’t meet our needs?
We all have desires.
A desire arises when we have identified a strategy, an action we think will help us meet a need that has gone unfulfilled. When we say things like “I want a bar of chocolate” that’s a strategy, an action we hope will satisfy the need for sugar, feel good chemicals (through the theobromine in the chocolate) and a sense of comfort. A desire emerges when we find a strategy that aligns with meeting a core need.
So, how does this understanding of the relationship between our desires and our core needs help us to act on them- and experience more intimacy?
When we can get to the root of a desire, and identify the need driving it, we open up to more possibilities of actions that could meet that need- and that in turn offers more possibilities for intimate and authentic connections with others.
The broader the range of possible actions we’re open to engaging with that would meet our needs, the more likely it is we’ll find others with similar and compatible desires- and the more intimacy we have the opportunity to invite into our lives!
How to communicate about these desires is a whole other article. I strongly recommend the wonderful work of Marcia Baczynski.
What can you do right now to dive deeper into your desires?
I’ve heard this exercise called ‘the elevator drop’, but I prefer to think of it as an ocean dive. There’s a lot of stuff to swim through, but at the bottom of this ocean are pearls of insight and wisdom waiting to be found.
On a piece of paper, or in your journal, write down one thing you’d like to experience in your day today. Maybe an evening of sensual pleasure. Or delicious restaurant dinner. Or a refreshing break from your work?
Now, ask yourself why you want that thing? What need is it meeting? Maybe you are craving sexual pleasure. Or you need a reprieve from stress. Or you are tired of cooking at home and want to be cared for. Write down whatever comes to mind.
Then dig! Why does that reason matter? When you have gotten this thing or experience in the past, how has it affected or changed you?
When I get this…
And- dig deeper. Keep engaging with the inquiry, until you arrive at something that is as simple and uncluttered as possible, a succinct pearl of insight:
Therefore I need…
I need more space for me in my life.
I need to feel cared for.
I need connection.
Once we identify the core needs driving us, so many more possibilities of strategies and desires open up! Brainstorm some other actions that could meet your newly discovered core needs, and as you brainstorm, consider who you could engage with to join you in these desires!
To address this need I could also…
There’s no finite end with this exercise. Just like the ocean, some dives might go deep, and some might be faster to access. What matters is taking the time to dive deeper, to identify what it is that we want- what we really, really want (yes, I just quoted The Spice Girls)- because that becomes the gateway to a path of radically more authentic, honest, and compelling intimacy.