Not every ego is a needy ego, but many are, whether that’s outwardly or inwardly. It’s easier to develop a needy ego than not.
Needy egos take their toll our close relationships. But more important, on us. Not because of the inherent experience of feeling needy; those feelings would just pass through if they were allowed. It is the effort it takes in concealing our neediness to ourselves and others that is so punishing.
There is no compassion, no tolerance, for the needy ego. Left to fester in the darkness alone, they are silently starving. In the place of acceptance, shame and denial.
Needy egos, suppressed, create unspoken and indistinguishable anxieties, and fuel hidden passions. They establish invisible boundaries around connection, limiting that to the few with whom we trust with the truth. But this only makes us feel more of a burden.
Needy egos are hungry. Anything is better than being ignored and left to their own devices. Left to ‘figure it out’; angry at having to do so.
Reprieve, when it is had through external means, is only ever temporary. The hungry ego is determined to be unsatisfied.
Active and passive needy egos
Active needy egos are upfront with their requests for validation. Passive needy egos are less demanding (in fact often they are characteristically undemanding). Neither is a picnic.
Active needy egos rub others up the wrong way, as people grow tired of providing their approval, feeling used. Passive needy egos feel powerless, retreating, withdrawing and self-isolating.
Needy egos draw on external resources without wanting to, or meaning to, or knowing that they are. We are the blood thirsty vampire. Either we give unrelentingly to others, having our meagre scraps this way, or we feed directly by excessive taking. Usually, we do both.
The boundaries are confusing and blurred. Is it us or them? Are we expecting too much, or not enough? Again, it’s probably both.
The healing begins when we stop rejecting ourselves and others for powerful desires for support, love, friendship and acceptance. We might try soothing our starving inner children instead, not making ourselves wrong for our wanting. Like all the parts of us, they long for acknowledgement.
I have a needy ego. Isn’t it a relief just to say it aloud?
My needy ego is making me crazy right now. And even crazier – I can’t stop judging myself for it!
We must stop trying so hard to hide our needy egos. They are not the complete picture of us; they are simply ignored emotional needs, continuing to go ignored. Not by others, but by us.
We developed a needy ego because we didn’t get the emotional support we wanted. That is it, without the added drama. It might not even have been that there wasn’t enough; it could have been that it wasn’t in the form we wanted. Our hearts are very un-reasonable that way.
After acceptance, we have to examine whatever happened in the past that helped establish the needy ego. Truthfully examine it, which means without blame or recrimination. Just what actually happened.
We cannot stay angry and upset with our parents, and expect to create effortlessly fulfilling, harmonious relationships. We must make peace. The unresolved issues always carry forward in our relationships. I’ve never known an exception to that. Have you?
We do whatever we need to do to get complete with our parents. That might look like privately grieving, and making the decision not to have them in our lives. It might look like doing the work to understand them, and to enjoy a close friendship with them. Or, it might look like something in between. It always involves telling the truth, to ourselves and maybe also to them. About owning how we really want our relationships with our parents to look, given the people that they are.
It’s frustrating that completing isn’t an intellectual process. It takes presence with the emotional self.
The feelings of being needy arise sharply, in the same moment as the psychological projection.
‘They are listening to me and giving me the attention I crave. It feels good; it feels necessary. I want more.’
So, needy egos crave attention. Fine. What else?
Validation. Support. Acknowledgment. Recognition. Love. The feelings that life effortlessly provides once we stop being the dry sponge.
We need to give each and every feeling to ourselves. How does a person validate themselves? Be their own emotional support? How do we acknowledge ourselves? Listen deeply to ourselves? How can we respect ourselves?
How does that actually look, for you? I can tell you how it looks for me, but it wouldn’t help.
Independence – sustaining the physical self – is an impossibility. When we can’t see that, we have simply lost touch with reality, with what is actually supporting us in life.
But sustaining the emotional self, by ourselves? This is very possible for us all.
Self-reliance is what provides the cure for a needy ego, when what we mostly do is chase alleviation of symptoms. But it’s hard work. We have to practice, having first decided that practice is essential.
Self reliance is not retreat. It is not withdrawal, or emotionally distancing, or pretend independence. Rather, it is the slow process of learning to source the feelings we desire to have. It is stacking our lives around recreating the feelings.
As a wet sponge, our experience of our interactions, and often the interactions themselves, are transformed. The needy aspects of our egos are no longer present.
More whole, we go to what attracts us, instead of whoever will listen to us, or keep us company, or fulfill whatever other void we have been ignoring.