I have previewed emotional/relational needs before and illustrated them here. It has occurred to me that I have not listed and described them in relative list form. Before I do that allow me to explain why it is so important to be familiar with them. First, we all have them to varying degrees. Second, hurts are a result of having one of these needs not met or violated. If we do not know what they are all we know is that something happened that left us feeling (insert negative emotion here) or quite simply…yucky. If we know or at at least are familiar with them we can identify HOW we have been hurt and how to begin to process that hurt.
Some of them are very easy to identify and understand. Others are more slippery and very easily confused. Here are the top ten emotional/relational needs.
Acceptance, Affection, Appreciation, Approval (Blessing), Attention, Comfort, Encouragement, Respect, Security, and Support.
For today and the next couple of posts I will go over them, define them, and show how they can be similar but also quite different. Further, I will help you understand how they manifest themselves into your day to day life.
Starting off we will look at, in my opinion, the most difficult. That would be Approval/Blessing. This is being given a place of importance simply because of your status within a relationship, regardless of your behavior or accomplishments.
Regardless of what you do, you are someone’s son/daughter, father/mother, brother/sister, friend etc. That SHOULD matter. The best example of filling/meeting that need would be when I would pick Joe up at school in his first couple of years. Each day I would look for him coming down the hall. When he would recognize me and I would see him he would run to me. I would then pick him up and say, “there’s my boy!” I would tell him from time to time that the best part of my day was seeing him and picking him up. I would tell him “In a hallway full of kids I would see your face Joe and think, ‘That’s MY son!’.” Through that Joe learned (I hope) that it mattered to be my son. He has value regardless of anything he has done, positive or negative.
To that end, it is important to point out that Approval/Blessing is not the same as Acceptance. Acceptance is having value and standing within a relationship DESPITE making mistakes and/or shortcomings. Acceptance is certainly important and of equal value as Approval/Blessing, but it is not the same.
One guy I was working with once said, “I totally get the difference. As a kid I had lots of Approval/Blessing but not Acceptance. I knew that being a Smith (obviously not his real name) mattered and was very important but I also knew that Smith’s don’t get bad grades. If I got a bad grade things were terrible for me for the longest time…I was not accepted.” Simply put, Acceptance is being loved despite your faults, Approval/Blessing is being loved for who you are in relation to another.
Does it bother you that you are not treated well by your spouse in relation to other family members, friends or even strangers? Does your boss treat all of his/her employees like crap and it drives you insane? Maybe growing up your mom/dad cared more about your friends than you (or it seemed that way). Did you never have sit down dinner unless someone else was going to be there? If your parents didn’t make you feel special for being their child I’ll bet it drives you straight insane when your boss seems to care about employees from other departments more than you.
On the flip side, do you tell your spouse that you love him/her outside of any event or action? Do you tell your kids that you thank God that you get to be their daddy/mommy? If you and your friends had a nickname for your group you were creating Approval/Blessing and meeting that need. Do you do that now? It can be as simple as introducing your friend to someone and saying, “This is my good friend Joe Schmoe!” Joe now knows it’s important to be your friend and regardless of how good of a friend he is…he matters.
Approval/Blessing is not Acceptance but it lives next door. Both are needed but they are not the same. With all of these needs and as we go over them, take a minute or two and ask yourself, “Did I have these met as a child? How much do I have this need now and is it being met? How can I openly/honestly communicate with my loved ones to get this need met?” If you don’t, you will just keep getting hurt by not having it met, or manipulate relationships to almost get the need met but it will not fulfill you.
I hope and pray that this makes sense for you. I hope you get the importance of understanding emotional/relational needs. As readers of my website you are very important to me and I value you very highly. You matter to me (see what I did there?).