Needs come in layers

Von Eva Ebenhöh | March 29, 2017

You know how needs come in layers?

My own needs path looked somewhat like this: First, I soo needed appreciation - until I could see that I got plenty appreciation, summa cum laude dissertation and whatnot. I just couldn’t take it in. It didn’t land. What I really needed was self-appreciation.

Secondly, a sense of self-worth. I worked a while on that need. With “a while” I mean months, until I could see that I do appreciate some of my traits and skills - and what I was really looking for was unconditional self-love.

Taste it on your tongue: unconditional. Love. Not from others. Again, in order to be able to feel the love from others, I need to feel it in me. So: Self-Love. And not for being something or in a particular way, but unconditional.

After I found that need, I spent some years in spiritual practice cultivating it. During that time, I believed it to be THE core need. Everything boiled down to Unconditional Self-Love. My daughter angry at me? -> USL helped me relax. Money issues? -> USL. Being shouted at by some pedestrians for my risky biking? -> USL.

My self-empathy processes became pretty short in that time. I skipped right to USL practice.

How long? Two-and-a-half years or so.

And then, surprisingly, I found a need under that. The need to live.

I’ve been slightly suicidal since the age of 12. Wanting to live was a revelation and for me definitely deeper that unconditional self-love. Self-love turned into a strategy to cultivate my will to live.

Now, yesterday someone mentioned the need for survival of our species as a core (if not THE core) need. And some things fell into place that I hadn’t integrated before.

Before, I had thought that my anxiety about the state of the world and the sense of urgency I feel, came from fear for my own wellbeing and survival. That was really just a thought. I didn’t feel it like this.

When I think of shoe productions taking ten life years from workers, mass suicides in sweatshop factories, countries devestated by the hunt for rare metals, it is not my own survival I fear for. And it would be a stretch - a slight one - to say that my wellbeing hinges on me not feeling bad about my complicity. While both of this is true, it is not the heart of the issue.

There is an underlying fear for the survival of our species, like a pocket of oil beneath a lake. Prick it and it will spill into the water. I know it is there and I can do nothing about it - about the threat to our survival, I mean.

I can look at the beautiful sunset on the lake and pretend I didn’t know. But as a background noise the knowledge and fear is always there.

And now I am smiling with a kind of deviousness. If it has been hard to find requests to work with the need for unconditional self-love, how on earth am I to find requests to work with the need for survival of our species.

I read Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. That actually helped. Survival of our species is also just a strategy.

I believe, there is yet another need underneath it. I’m not quite there yet, but it seems to me to be something like a spiritual connection to “the whole”.