Human Nature Nuggets

Unlike sheer instinct, human nature involves individual thought as to how we should handle or improve various situations. As homo sapiens, we never know what will happen as a result, but each of us tries by doing what we think is the best solution. Here are some examples…

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Location: St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

I am a writer at heart, a proofreader by trade, but without a soul if it were not for the nuthatches crawling down my trees, the robins, chickadees, cardinals, and yes, the much-maligned jibbering starlings that create their own unique concerts. I have wildflowers and perennials squeezed into my front and back yards and along the curb of my house in the city. My greatest job: I was a reporter for a locally-based newspaper, where I wrote human interest and news articles, but now I am a freelance writer, both online and in print. See MY ONLINE ARTICLES on how to ATTRACT BIRDS and BUTTERFLIES, and the HEALTHIEST NATURAL FOODS at my contributor page

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Need to Feel Needed

Babies need to have a parent laugh and clap at their antics. School-aged children need to have a parent praise their accomplishments, and feel dejected if that parent doesn’t attend when they have a chance to display their talent to the public. After their children leave home, parents need to learn to readjust their lives.

A wife-to-be needs her father, or someone who truly cares, to accompany her down the aisle. When a couple gets their first child, they want their parents to be proud of them. In turn, their parents need both their childrens’ love and praise, and their own parents’ love and praise.

As we grow older, knowing that you’re loved, or that someone cares about you, isn’t necessarily enough, and that need to feel needed—and appreciated for what you do—increases. After he retired, my father-in-law routinely set the table for the breakfast he and his wife would be eating the next day—on the night before. I once asked him, “Why don’t you wait until tomorrow to do that?” He looked at me sadly and replied, “What else is there to do?” Somehow, I knew he was implying that doing this simple act made him feel needed.

Sometimes close friends can fill the gap, or grandchildren, or an adored pet; perhaps a good job or volunteer work. But not always. When my grandmother was lying in a hospice with terminal cancer, perfectly lucid and understanding her condition, she asked me why she couldn’t just join her husband, who had passed on several years earlier. She added, “Nobody needs me anymore.”
Indeed, the need to feel needed could be one of the most driving forces in human nature. I think in some way we bloggers have our own version of that need. To fulfill it, we reach out to others, knowing they will grasp our hands. We may not truly “need” each other, but life sure wouldn’t be the same without that rapport.

NOTE: My friend Christine has a Health Blog where she’s dedicated to helping others, and she invites you, with open arms and personal experience, to come visit her to share your concerns at Christine’s Health Blog.

And please, if you have the time, go visit our fellow blogger Zareba, a woman truly full of soul, over at Journey Into Being. She’s in the hospital recovering—her heart and lungs had shut down in mid-April, and now there’s a new post on her site.

Also, I’d like to re-introduce Vonnie, who has revived her blog Bird Watching in South Florida, and started a new one, Reflections of a Boomer Babe, that women in particular should enjoy.

I’m not sure about you, but you—my blogger friends—have fulfilled my life. All my sincere best wishes, Darlene

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26 Comments:

Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Yes, I guess it's good to be needed ... and even better to be wanted and appreciated. That's my guess anyway.

5/10/2006 9:43 PM  
Blogger jim said...

I knew a guy who bought a goat, for that very reason, something to do, the goat would need him, he would need the goat. The goat had no idea what was going on.

Sadly, sometimes the guy would forget himself, what was going on, and would curse the goat.

Happily tho, they lived together in Peace.

PS: I think that if the goat could have known, she would have been very proud.

5/10/2006 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Maureen said...

How right you are, Darlene! We all need to feel needed. And I think you're also right about blogs helping to fulfill this need. Bloggers reach out to each other and when we see comments, it's a wonderful feeling because it means another person has responded to our words. That's the beauty of the internet. It is making the world smaller and creating a virtual world village.

5/12/2006 4:08 AM  
Blogger Vonnie said...

Thank you so much for giving my blogs a little boost as well as myself.

You are a very special person, Darlene, and I need you for sure!!

What a warm and meaningful article.

Take care -

5/12/2006 7:04 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

I hope if I ever get in the predicament of not being needed, that I'll realize that prayers are needed, poetry is needed, and even viewers are needed - park bench type. So much of the world has gone by too fast for me, and now I want to slow down, and see what I can appreciate. I figure even God's world is due a good word, now and then. That's what blogging is for.

5/15/2006 3:15 PM  
Blogger Imemine said...

This is quite true!
Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment.

5/29/2006 10:03 AM  
Blogger goatman said...

For many, a comment made by the person next at the checkout line is the only contact with others that day. This interaction can make or break the spirit for the rest of the day.
So be nice!
Peace

5/30/2006 10:59 AM  
Blogger Zareba said...

It sure is nice to be back and catching up all over the net. I always enjoy my time here,so catching up has been fun. How is that candle holding up?

...Z

6/07/2006 8:23 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Nice post. Personally I keep overlooking these simple truths so it's good to be reminded of them.

6/21/2006 4:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one has ever needed me for anything significant. No sense reviewing the effects that has on the mind. On a somewhat positive note, however, dogs and some cats seem drawn to me like magnets. It has actually been annoying sometimes. But it is nice when something, anything, wants your company enough to follow you and sit with you. When I die, I would like my estate to go towards funding for the SPCA. Animals are the only things that have ever wanted or needed me.

6/11/2009 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pondered on this date whether the "need to feel needed" is actually a good feeling to have. Posing that question to google, I found your site. I must say I have not reached a conclusion to the query. It some respects I feel that the need to feel needed is simply my ego speaking. That something is lacking in my life which is masked by my ego's desire to "feel good." If I was complete within myself, why should I need to be needed. I will go on searching further for the answer to this question.

9/10/2010 1:49 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

To "anonymous" from 9/10/10: You're misinterpreting the "need to feel needed" by suggesting it self serves your ego. Sure, that is often a byproduct, because it's good to know that people need us. But on the flip side, when others need us, it's usually because we're able to offer something to others who have a need. Perhaps that's where you should focus, instead of how you're "feeding your ego." Besides, wanting and knowing that you're needed is part of human nature. Usually those who don't feel needed are depressed and/or think they're worthless.

9/10/2010 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The need to be needed could be from the lack of knowing you have a creator being God. I find my inner strength comes from a good spiritual foundation with God. He knows me more than any human could & loves me unconditionally. Depression, illiness and other forms of lacking are par of a human make up. Needing to label the feeling we have now, turning to other people to talk to understand and get other views is always helpfull, but when we are all alone with no one around we still have the knowledge that if we are a believer we have a good friend of Himself and in ourselves.

I find this to be helpful when I feel a need to be needed. I find my need is filled when I place my trust in God.

6/11/2011 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's easy to test how needed you are: Stop calling or emailing for a week or two.

Does anyone call or email you? Does anyone miss you? If it's you who usually does the calling and inviting out or things to do, what does that tell you about being needed? Other people get called; do you?

Are you sure you want to find out?

6/18/2011 12:31 AM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Often this is true, but in many cases those who don't call or e-mail for a week or two are overwhelmed with things to do and just can't find the time, especially if it's in response to someone who tries to contact them very often.

And in some cases, the person who doesn't reach out that often feels the other person will understand; that there's no need to call or e-mail that often. But that doesn't mean the person doesn't still care or love the person they don't reach out to that often.

6/20/2011 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is important not to confuse the word need, with the human desire to feel connected. As a human, we all have a need to feel connected. Whether it be with family, friends, community, work or whatever. It is when we are not able to have a connection that depression can set in. Need on the other hand, is often loosely used to describe this connection. If we do have connections, yet find we still feel that we need something more from others, than it would be safe to say that we are lacking something within ourselves. Something no one else can give us. They could never fulfill this need, only we can. So it is important to be aware of the difference in the basic human need to feel connected, as opposed to needing to feel needed. That's what the internet does for alot of people. It helps them feel that sense of connection.

7/10/2011 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am enjoying this thread as I also googled the subject of "the need to feel needed" as my father is going through a phase in his life where the last of his 6 children will be off to college soon. He said the other day that when she leaves "all that will be left to do is clear the cobbwebs from the corners of her bedroom walls". He mentioned he won't have anyone to cook breakfast for, drive to school, pick up from ballet, etc..

It's an interesting thing to ponder the feeling as though if there is no one to need us than we have nothing to do. We're left with just ourselves and forced to face who we really are which I think is an important part of life's journey. Feeling the pain of that and integrating that. THEN, go back and "cook breakfast" for your loved ones not because your hiding from fear of knowing you really are, but because of genuine love, of first, yourself which translates into an authentic love for other people in your life.

Maybe I'm over analyzing as usual, but thank you for reading!

8/29/2011 10:06 AM  
Blogger Darlene said...

No way are you over analyzing! You’re using your brain and emotions, and searching for similar circumstances within your life or scope (in this case, your dad) The greatest thing is that it was your human nature to respond, and in such a compassionate way!

The odds are that having to adjust to children going off to college, or anywhere, is one of the most common tests of our need to be needed—and particularly after the last one leaves. Yet the whole purpose of raising children properly is so they can draw on a parent’s teachings that will help them cope, and hopefully succeed, in the adult world. It's just that it always seems so far away.)

If the children and parents keep in contact and share what’s happening in each other's lives, the parents will soon learn that their kids still need them, even if they aren’t living under the same roof, and their need is in a different way. For example: They likely will still want advice, praise, encouragement, or for their parents to just to listen to them.

Hopefully there’s something your dad always wanted to do and couldn’t, because now he’ll have more time to do it. And then when he talks to all of you, he’ll have something fascinating to share. It will take time for him to adjust—he’ll probably have to go through that period that all parents go through: the tears, the ache of not being able to just say hi right away or see any of your faces, and then trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives without the kids around. Even the boredom!

But if your mom is with him, they can start out playing card or board games together, or go places they went to when they were dating. In time, he’ll find other interests, but the process does take time.

That’s so wonderful of you to think of your dad like this! Maybe you can tell your siblings about his dejection and suggest they contact him every so often with something they want to know, even if they don’t actually need his help, to bolster his ego. That in turn will make him feel needed. (But not consistently! He has to learn to "fend for himself.")

But there are always holiday get-togethers, and if any of you have your own children, maybe tell him about things you do for them that he did for you. If you keep him in the loop, he’ll feel more secure with himself and will be able to go on with his new life. So glad you’re you! My best wishes to your entire family!!

8/31/2011 1:20 PM  
Blogger Jack Wellman said...

What a superb work here Darlene. It is so true. We were born to be needed and God completely fills this need. In my college coursework in Psychology, it said that babies are born with this need to be needed and die without love...and I believe we never outgrow it.

12/28/2011 1:38 PM  
OpenID christinericehealthblog said...

Hi Darlene,
Being needed is definitely a requirement for many people to feel content in life and complete as individuals. There are a few versions of being needed, such as being liked, being appreciated, being respected, etc. I struggle with feeling contentment unless I have human interaction in which I am treated nicely and appreciated. Sometimes I even seek out praise for doing a good deed, so those are definitely needs of mine. Just some additional thoughts I had when I read your beautifully written blog post. You have a way with words and your kindness shows through your writing. :)
Christine

12/28/2011 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

I don't feel needed anymore. I was an Electrical Engineer until 2006. Ever since then I have slowly became lonely, even that I'm married to a wonderful woman. We have 3 dogs, and I still feel unneeded. I have only one friend and he lives 170 miles away, and it's not the same as when we were able to hang out everyday.
When I sleep i have wonderful dreams like it's another world, and I get angry that i wake up. I wish I could live in that world instead of this one. I bought a new Convertible, I felt better until I figured out I have no place to drive everyday. I only go to doctors visits, and Casinos, and AA..

2/27/2012 12:47 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Jerry, it sounds like you’re in a transition period, and need to adapt to being retired. It isn’t easy, and takes time—everyone goes through that at some point—but you can help make that transition happen even quicker. For one thing, is there anything you wanted to do during your working life and didn’t have time? Think back to when you were working. Was there anyone who wanted you to join them at something? Call them and let them know you’re free! And don’t forget your neighbors… you and your wife could invite a neighbor or neighbors (your age, if you prefer) over to play cards or board games, or just for dinner. Your excuse could be that you wanted to get to know them more. In time, you could switch off and eat once a month at each others’ homes, or even go out to eat.

Or this spring/summer, put a note in your neighbors’ mailboxes and suggest you all hold a grilling party on the sidewalk (include your phone number or e-mail). Our block holds impromptu block parties like this regularly, and often we get a city permit to block the street so we can pull out chairs and tables. We’ve got a list of all of our e-mails when we want to hold one, and the food is pot luck. We’ve become a block-long community of friends!

Do you like acting? Find a community theater in your city and audition for a part… lots of retirees find a whole new life—and a new social life. If there’s something you want to learn, such as playing an instrument, working on computers, and much more, many colleges offer a variety of “subjects” for only $5 or so if you’re over 50. A lot of adults of all ages are taking advantage of that.

Some retirees have called former workers and started monthly breakfasts or lunches where they get together to eat and shoot the breeze. I know of one where the guys named themselves the “Old Farts Club.” They’ve invited retiree friends from other lines of work to join them, too, and now they’ve all become so cohesive, they have a ball!

And don’t forget about your wife. You can sit out front and read together, get one of those city-allowed steel fire pits and make bonfires in your yard, grill dinner outside…

But for sure, surprise her with a “date night!” Find a place that isn’t fancy where they serve good wholesome dinners, and have friendly employees. Coffee shops have great cozy atmospheres like this. Bring along a Scrabble or other game where you can take turns while you’re eating, or afterwards. I’ve even seen couples playing Scrabble on an iPad. If you have a good time there, go again the next week, and tell her it’s your date night. Soon you’ll become friends with the employees and the other regulars there, and when you walk through the door, you’ll feel like you belong with these friends of yours. Good luck, I’m so grateful that you opened up to me! Darlene

3/02/2012 2:27 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

P.S. Jerry, how about joining an amateur bowling league? Many are looking for substitute or other players, and you don't have to be "great." Some members have 140 averages or less...

3/02/2012 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

Thanks for all the advise Darlene,
I was in a terrible accident in 2010 and I have a trach. The bowling was something I did until the accident. Now my leg and back can't handle it.

I am thinking of taking up horse racing again, like I did when I was a kid. I'm thinking of going on Mondays and Tuesdays cuz those are seniors get in free to the grandstand days.

I use to be pretty good, and went yesterday and had a ball. I had a winner, but still spent 15 bucks , which isn't bad for a whole day out.

We are going to Vegas on sunday for two free nights too, so things aren't as bad as I was feeling, I just feel like there is more, something I need to do that I missed out on doing, and I can't put my finger on it.

3/15/2012 7:39 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Wow, I’m thrilled that you came back and looked for a response, and then got back to me. I was afraid I had taken too long to respond last time! You’re right, bowling is out for you. But my husband and I recently played one of those Wii (pronounced wee) bowling games (never knew they existed before that!)that our friends had hooked up to their T.V., and it was so realistic! We had to clear some space to walk so we’d feel natural taking real steps towards the T.V., and swung our arms holding the control instead of a ball. Could even use hookballs. We had a ball! (I guess some people just sit down and play, but our method was exhilarating!) Would you be able to do that? No weight on the arm. Only problem is, it may be kind of expensive. (By the way, have you tried to reach your old bowling buddies? If you can’t find them, ask me for tips on how you possibly can!) Otherwise, how about going biking, but at a slow, steady pace? You don’t need a fancy one. Where I live, there are folks of all ages biking in residential areas, besides going on long walks.

Do you like gardening? I grow specific plants to attract butterflies, and it’s delightful in my yard. I also have different kinds of bird feeders, so there’s always different kinds of birds singing in my yard, and when they have babies, they feed them at my feeders! What about volunteering? Volunteers of America has lots of areas where they need help. One of our friends delivers meals to the homebound. Another drives those small buses for the handicapped, to take them to doctor appointments and back.

Wow, I used to go and bet on the “ponies” off and on about 20 years ago. Religiously studied the racing form and compared how they did on muddy or dry tracks in past races. Seems like I got the most wins by putting the favorite as place, and the longshot to win, depending on the conditions, length of the races, etc. And I tried to keep it at $4 per race (a two-way split), so for awhile I’d get at least a decent profit. But eventually I lost my discipline and bet on too many races that I didn’t feel sure enough about, got scared so put out more… and in time my system stopped working, but it sure was fun! I should have just gone occasionally, though. Going free admission on senior days sounds great!

So glad the two of you are going on that trip to Vegas. When you go, pretend that it’s a date—don’t start thinking about your age; you’re still the same you! It’s amazing how pretending you’re something can make you become a part of that role. Open the doors for your wife, call her “my dear” once in awhile. It may feel cheesy at first, and the two of you might laugh about it, but then you’ll actually start feeling that old closeness again.

As for your feeling that there is more, something you need to do that you missed out on doing before, there probably is. So get out of the house more—to eat (and sometimes for breakfast), and go to movies (check around for the cheaper ones; not those fancy ones that cost an arm and a leg)—and study what other people are doing wherever you are, even children. Think about if what they’re doing delights you, and you’d like to do it, too. You probably won’t discover that elusive thing that’s missing in your life right away, but in time the odds are it’ll hit you. And for sure, feel free to come back here whenever you want! In my book, we’re friends now, Jerry. Meanwhile, wishing you a great trip!

3/15/2012 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Silvina said...

Thanks a lot for your inspirational writing. I truly believe being needed keeps us alive and mentally healthy, spiritually alive and wanting to go on in life. Otherwise, we become robots alienated from humanity. Thanks again.

7/29/2012 3:44 PM  

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