When I’m unhappy, it’s often because I’m not getting what I want. What to do at a time like this? I might try identifying the needs behind my wants. Identifying my unmet needs can help me have more compassion for myself—but it doesn’t shift me out of my self-enclosed, solipsistic state. It’s easy to keep wallowing.
It’s quite likely that as long as I’m focusing exclusively on my needs, things aren’t going to change much for me. That’s because my overall well-being depends less on my individual needs being met and more on the degree to which I am fully integrated into the interdependence of everything. So, to improve my well-being, I might focus less on my individual needs and more on my relationships with others.
One way to energize my relationships is by focusing on how I can contribute. So, one way out of my wallowing might be to ask myself, “What can I do that would be the greatest contribution?” Considering this question often gives me more energy, loosens things up, and brightens my perspective. In my experience, it’s quite likely that my needs will be met in the process of contributing to the needs of others. That’s because, in healthy relationships, many of our needs are met automatically via the reciprocal give and take of relating.
Photo Painting Idaho (by Dawn Ellner) is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.