REAL AND FALSE NEEDS
Key Extracts from Lecture 192
© The Pathwork® Foundation 1999
What are real and what are false needs? In the first place, what is real at one period of an entity's life may be utterly false and unreal at a later period. What is a real need for a child is not at all a real need for an adult. Now, when the growing entity denies the pain of the unfulfilled real need, what happens is not at all that this need disappears. On the contrary, the denial of its pain perpetuates it and projects it in time and onto other people so that it becomes a false need. To be specific, a child needs to be taken care of; it needs to be solely a recipient in care, nursing, good feelings, attention, appreciation of its own uniqueness. If these needs are not fulfilled, the child must suffer. If this suffering is dealt with on the conscious level, the personality does not remain crippled, as many would want to believe. What creates a crippled state is the belief that this pain can only be eliminated when the personality is finally given all that was lacking, even years later. Now, this can never be, of course. For even if it were possible for an adult to finally obtain substitute parents who are ideal and perfect according to the notions of the deprived child, to an adult all this giving from outside could never bring fulfillment.
What are the real needs of an adult? They are self-expression; growth; development; reaching his spiritual potentials and everything else that accrues from that: pleasure, love, fulfillment, good relationships, and making a meaningful contribution to the scheme of things, to the great plan in which everyone has his task.
Real needs never require others to comply and ‘give it to you.’ Only to the little self does it appear necessary that they do so. The real need for love, companionship, and sharing can only begin to be fulfilled when the soul is ready to love and give, which must never be confused with the neurotic need to be loved. But this confusion between the two needs often exists. As long as you believe that you are really willing to love, but fate is slighting you and withholding from you the person who loves you and whom you can love, you are really still ardently engaged in trying to fulfill the childhood need with a substitute parent. You are really, in your heart of hearts, angry, blaming, punishing, self-victimizing, because your imagined real need for love remains slighted. Once you are truly ready to give up the old case and start to live now, looking within yourself, real love will come to you, and your present real need will be fulfilled.
If you give voice to this irrational side, you will find that it more or less invariably and to varying degrees says: ‘I need to always be loved and be approved of by everyone. If I am not, it is a catastrophe.’ The self then talks himself into believing this, almost as a means to force others to comply. The overreaction then becomes so painful that it seems to be a fact of life that the nonfulfillment of these insatiable demands for total, unconditional fulfillment of self-will and pride is indeed catastrophic. No matter how mature you may be in many respects of your being, look for those hidden reactions in you whenever you feel consistently anxious and uncomfortable when certain conditions arise in your environment.
Unreal needs are demands made upon others. Unreal needs can never be fulfilled.
When the real need to remove the blocks toward awareness and self-fulfillment (therefore intimacy and closeness with others), and to discard the false needs is expressed into the spiritual self, a wonderful force is awakened. It is a plea that is never answered with a stone. Even if you feel as yet too weak to make the total commitment that is necessary, you can ask to be helped to be able to do so. The help will come.
When you pursue a false need, you must be in unbearable pain. The pain is then tight, locked, bitter, with the connotation of hopelessness. It is a very different pain than the pain of a real unfulfillment, a hurt, a deprivation. The moment these are not channeled into unreal needs, the pain can be dissolved and can transform itself back into its original, flowing, life-bringing energy current. Hard pain is a result of fighting against what is. Soft pain is a result of acceptance.
When you specifically let go of insatiable demands, unreal needs, one by one, you will find out that they are indeed unreal needs. You started off with the premise, for example, that you cannot live without total approval; unconditional acceptance and love; uncritical evaluation of you; never-failing understanding; or whatever else it may be. As you consider the possibility that you might even gain fulfillment and contentment, pleasure and happiness, without these demands being fulfilled – at first a novel idea, for you were so insistent on your case – you will be surprised to find that it is quite possible to do so. New ways will make themselves known – new possibilities which you could never even sense before because you were so bent on the one way it had to be. Wherever there is obstruction, unfulfillment, an unyielding wall in your life, this unreal need has to be looked for. You must find your own insistence that says, ‘It must be this way, not that way. Life must give me this; I must have it.’ When you find and express this voice and recognize it for its fallacy, something will loosen up instantly.