The need to feel sufficient

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The other day a friend posted this article on Facebook: “Generic Love”. It’s quite an entertaining read. ๐Ÿ™‚ It probably isn’t meant to be taken too seriously, but I think for me it does touch on quite a profound point and has really got me thinking.

Everyone has particular ways of expressing love, which tend not to change for different recipients. The relationships that stick for more than a few months are not marked out by a different amount or quality of love, but simply work because the individuals’ generic ways of expressing love happen to match. This seems to be the main point.

Another way of putting it might be that we thrive best with people that make us (and our mashed potatoes ๐Ÿ™‚ ) feel sufficient. If you feel lacking in some way, if being with the person makes you feel needy or inadequate or unappreciated or drained, then obviously that is going to kill off the enthusiasm. Or slowly turn you into a nervous wreck or whatever. ๐Ÿ˜€

And what interests me is that the same could be true of other situations, like jobs for example. It’s a bit of a revelation to me. What if my generic ways of working do not match 90% of a job, leaving me feeling woefully insufficient? Should my considerable success in the 10% obligate me to exist in this miserable state of affairs? Don’t I deserve a job in which I can thrive on a personal level and not just in terms of output? The lovely thing about the relationship anecdotes in the article is that they paint the whole business of breaking up and moving onto someone else in a very matter-of-fact, dispassionate way. People probably do that all the time. No agonising, no over-analysing, no desperately swimming against the current trying to make it work out… just a shrug and an “oh well… next please!”

I am just left wondering why I swim against the current so hard in so many ways.

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4 responses »

  1. Regarding our obligation to stick with a situation my opionion is that each situation should be judged on it’s own merits. Whether it be work or a relationship it could be that at times it pays to work at it. There is nothing essentially wrong with determination, striving, aiming to better yourself etc. However, and I guess this is a big however, there are other times when “a shrug and an โ€œoh wellโ€ฆ next please!โ€ would be more appropriate. Sadly I have not been able to come up with any specific rules on how to decide this in my own life. I continue to struggle onwards, sometimes getting it right, sometimes perhaps not.

    “If you feel lacking in some way, if being with the person makes you feel needy or inadequate or unappreciated or drained, then obviously that is going to kill off the enthusiasm.”

    This is a really great point. While on the surface I tend to agree with all the ”nobody can make you feel this or that without your permission” stuff, in practice I find it more complicated. Firstly, my reality checker tells me not everyone is a good person. Secondly while some people are able to be strong in the face of this type of treatment (complaints whether outright or veiled) I think over time almost every person is affected negatively in some way. Not good.

    If these people are with a partner and feel the need to remind or pressure or even just state their shortcomings so much then what does that say about them more so than the partner?

    • I agree Majeeda, it’s hard to say when it’s worth trying a bit harder and when it isn’t. There is no all-encompassing formula that would give the answer. But I suppose we can, over time, start to get an idea of whether we tend to err too much on the side of stoically persevering or too much on the side of giving up. Then we can try to counteract that tendency in our decisions. For myself I’m starting to think that I don’t let myself quit easily enough. Maybe it feels shameful to give up, or weak or something, or maybe I worry that I will regret it. I am questioning this right now.

      “If these people are with a partner and feel the need to remind or pressure or even just state their shortcomings so much then what does that say about them more so than the partner?”

      Yes, that’s not healthy! Maybe in some cases they just feel inadequate themselves and have reacted by doing this rather than splitting up and finding a better match, which would have been more sensible.

      I was really just thinking about incompatibility, though, rather than anyone making overt demands on the other. For example if your partner is way more sociable than you, then you can feel really socially inadequate next to them, whereas with someone less gregarious you would feel OK.

      I totally agree that it’s more complicated than “nobody can make you feel this or that without your permission”… it would be quite idealistic to think that we could override our natural emotional responses to situations. Maybe we could, given enough effort, but should we have to? Is it worth it? I think this is where I have been going wrong… I dismiss my emotional response as “irrational” and don’t take it seriously. Maybe the tendency to feel inadequate is just a part of who I am, and rather than trying to force myself to change it, I should take it into account more and choose situations that accommodate me better.

  2. I like how you don’t give up on relationships easily. I find the “next one, please” mentality too shallow because I don’t think it’s so easy to throw away people. Maybe that’s just me.

    Not sure if this is related to the post, but are you familiar with the 5 love languages quiz? A number of couples have found it helpful in identifying how they show/express love and then comparing it to their partners. Say for instance that you feel loved when X gives you flowers and small gifts regularly so you in turn do the same for X. But what if X doesn’t really care for this because say quality time or acts of service or words of affirmation is how he feels loved. The test can be helpful because X can learn that you feel loved by gifts whereas you learn X feels loved when you do acts of service for him. This way you both are speaking the others’ love language. I know some women who have done this and find it helpful in their relationships.

    Sorry if that is off topic, but your post reminded me of this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I am the same Susanne, I don’t make or break attachments instantly or easily. But hanging onto the wrong one probably isn’t what’s best for anybody… I guess there’s a balance to be found in there. Or maybe it’s better for people like us to be really sure before we get involved in the first place!

      Thanks for the info about the 5 love languages quiz, that sounds interesting and not off topic at all. ๐Ÿ™‚ Will have to look it up!

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