My work with the women of SouLodge and Wolf: Honoring Community & Belonging begins today. There’s still time to jump in if you’re feeling the call to gather and find your voice in community.
Being a builder of women’s communities, I often find it interesting how I carry the assumption that we all have a need for non-judgmental, loving people in our lives. At times, our need for belonging and acceptance even supersedes our need for safety and security, which even Maslow would agree with. This is especially true of teens and their experiences of peer-pressure.
As I meander down the road of human-behavior-meets-spirit, I continually find that people crave community with one another. And yet chronic loneliness is epidemic. One thing I’ve found is that, among women, “needy” is a dirty word.
No one likes someone who comes across needy, but what does that really mean? Could it mean that when we’ve overextended ourselves and our time and resources been exploited that we resent another for us not setting good boundaries?
What I think is totally okay is to be able to admit that we need people. We need their love, their hugs, their attention, their approval, their feedback. In this age of individualism is it not okay to have needs? In a shadow state, it’s easy to connect with the anger we have, or the underlying hurt, of having our needs go unmet or the pain of rejection. It takes us right back to childhood, where generational…er, challenges prevented some parents from creating secure bonds and attachments their children. We might even find ourselves feeling shameful for having needs.
What’s a next good move? Between you and your highest self, it might be wise to admit having needs. Name them, understand where they come from and try to determine how they might best be met by other people in your life you already have a loving exchange with.
In Chris Zydel’s Creative Juices painting classes, she encourages her painters to be “needy, greedy and proud of it.” For this reason, I’ve loved working alongside her, because her leadership is generous of spirit, and she knows in her own wild heart that her painters are there to fulfill a deeply creative need.
Similarly, in SouLodge, our mantra is Know What You Need, and Ask For What You Want. The first step is to know what those needs are and once they become known, we can courageously ask our nearest and dearest to help us out. Asking to be heard or appreciated can make us feel vulnerable, like a turkey with it’s head on the chopping block. If we are rejected, or if someone agrees to commit to a deeper level of love and belonging with us, we will revert back into our solitary caves to endure the broken thought that it will always be this way, that we must deserve it, that maybe we are just freaky and unlovable, or that something about us is distasteful. None of these things are true, but the shadow self makes a very strong case against us, doesn’t it? We will only find ways to meet our needs in communion with sane people if we keep looking and keep believing our kind are out there.
A little training in fair communication, boundaries and conflict resolution and one can be enjoying community in no time. Virtual community is a wonderful start, but nothing beats face-to-face, heart-to-heart connection with people who love you and are loved by you. And the conversation doesn’t end with women-I hear from men very often that they are yearning for ways to connect with one another authentically, too.
Wolves move through conflict quickly. They don’t hold grudges. They don’t posture or practice insecurity-driven bravado. They don’t hide their hurts. They bite back when bitten, but not in an over-reactive manner. They have a complex system of respect and cooperation. They practice exceptionally clear communication through body language and a sophisticated vocabulary. I think we can re-raise ourselves like wolves and shed some light on this loneliness issue in good form.