Need to be Needed

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Certainly a girl doesn’t need to be nothing more than an accessory to someone who sees her as a sign of success, not as a person. When you are in a real relationship, both parties do begin to need each other, if not for survival, for quality of life. Someone who makes you feel your best self, and brings out your best qualities is a keeper!

As we think about needs, we recognize that some of our needs are emotional and spiritual, not just simply what we need to survive. I look at it like the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamins. This is amounts of each of the nutrients they knew about during WWII that were required to keep soldiers (male, young, fairly healthy) from showing symptoms of deficiency diseases. (More recently they’ve been checking to see where these requirements may differ for women or other groups.) But note that this is the level where if the subject didn’t get that daily amount, they began to manifest symptoms of disease. So this is NOT what you need to be healthy, if that’s what you are getting, you are walking on the fine line above showing symptoms of disease. They’ve never been able to figure out what we need to be optimally healthy, probably because it varies from person to person and what they are doing at the time.

When you think about your emotional needs, do you think about the need to be needed? They have discovered that older people in “homes” are much healthier when they have pets. Not only do the pets show them affection, having someone to care for gives the person who has had almost all agency removed a reason to look outward. An infant naturally needs someone to care for it for several years, and gives parents or caregivers an awareness that they are keeping the baby alive and (we hope) happy.

Some people have a distrust of “needs” that may come from having seen the interaction between a dependent and whoever is taking care of them abused. The parent-child relationship is a beautiful thing, so is a loving couple making each other’s lives better. “Paying it forward” is the natural way to keeping the species alive.

What we want to avoid is any relationship where the balance of power is off not naturally, as in the case of an infant, but unnaturally- such as in a culture where men and women (or other groups within the population) are given different levels of self determination. In the musical Oliver (source of this picture and quote), Nancy was both dependent because women didn’t have the options for financially supporting themselves, and also because her boyfriend, Bill, used violence to keep her with him.

In this case, Nancy, and those like her, convince themselves that their abusers need them because otherwise awareness that she’s contributing to her own abuse would hurt her more. We do have a need to be needed. We need to feel that there is something we are accomplishing in the world more than just eating, sleeping, and breathing. When Oliver’s needs from Nancy exceeded Bill’s imagined needs, Nancy was able to break away from her unhealthy fantasy. When a parent gradually leads his child to become more independent until he no longer physically needs his parent, but maintains the relationship for the emotional and spiritual benefits, that’s good parenting.

The theme this year is need, so as we examine that, let’s also let’s look at our relationship with the “Weird”. While I’m comfortable asserting that we should look at supernatural phenomena more closely, open to the possibility it’s real, that doesn’t mean that we should ditch our critical thinking skills. It’s exciting to learn new things, we mustn’t get dependent on these activities. Dowsing is a wonderful tool, but you shouldn’t use it to make all your decisions for you.* Keeping a dream journal can help you remember and understand your dreams, but if you are spending over an hour a day on it, you can probably cut back to an hour. If you’re a medium, unless you have some people who’ll pay to watch you do it, you probably shouldn’t be spending so much time talking to spirits that you are missing work. As with any activity, don’t go overboard. Don’t let it interfere with relationships between you and your family and friends. Don’t let it interfere with work, or adversely impact your health. Don’t let any system or group make decisions for you. Somethings we need to do regularly- like breathing. Doing anything successfully is going to make you feel good. But don’t become dependent upon any single source of satisfaction. You haven’t always done it, you won’t always be doing it, it’s just one of many good things in your life, but only one. Do what you need to do for you.

*Don’t ask “Should I take this vitamin?” ask “Will I be significantly healthier if I take this vitamin”. Taking it is your decision, dowsing can tell you if it’s going to have a subtle effect you can’t predict.

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Friction makes heat

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Life can be irritating. It’s not always pleasant. Frankly, depending on your mood- simply reading that may be irritating. Let me do it again. Sometimes that irritation can be good. Since this year’s theme is “Feeding our fires in times of need” I think of the image of someone starting a fire with friction- takes work, but if you need the fire, it’s worth it. I prefer the image from my childhood of getting out of the spring-fed lake where we’d stay in the water until our lips were blue and teeth chattering and my mother rubbing us with towels to warm us up. Or think of rubbing your hands together to warm them at an outdoor event. Sometimes the friction is good.

The question I’m asking myself this week is how far the analogy can be pushed? In the old TV show Babylon 5, the overarching conflict was between the Shadows who wanted war because it lead to progress, and the peaceful Vorlons who preferred stability. I think the conclusion we were supposed to come to was that a balance (one less destructive than war) between the two “ideals” was the goal humans should attempt.
Or to refer to an old joke: burning down the hut is the wrong way to cook a pig. We can have the benefits of the heat without an out-of-control conflagration.

Another image from the past is the old idea that to build muscle, you use ‘dynamic tension’- working against resistance creates the muscle. This is a good example of keeping the resistance under control to make it beneficial. Other similar images include the pearl that is created because the oyster was irritated, or the individual who ascribes their achievements to having had to overcome great challenges.

While there’s nothing wrong with learning life lessons or indeed, hard work, I will always recommend finding silver linings- or at least some good to come out of a bad situation, we don’t need to assume that everything extreme is bad, it may simply be how things are. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Learning to adapt to conditions is something humans are very good at. So when you experience friction, it may not always be a bad thing, it might be just what you need.

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Embracing “Occult” power

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We are often afraid of power. A common aphorism is that “Power corrupts and Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.” Even when we are not concerned about what it might be doing to our spiritual health, we often wonder just how much power we can control…, and what if it gets away from us?

Our earliest lessons are our parents telling us not to “play with fire”, or “run with scissors” (much less use sharp knives or appliances). We have been raised on the story of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and science fiction movies about how scientists don’t realize what effects they are creating: Godzilla or giant insects. It’s all too much for humans to control. Now we are looking at Climate Change, and extinction of multiple species, which seem to argue that the dire warnings were correct!

But let’s go back to our childhood lessons: eventually, we are allowed to use the car or the sewing machine, and we’re taught how firearms and medicines work. We are taught the balance between the risks and benefits, because while we could walk or bike everywhere, we’ll probably be able to get a better job if we can drive, and we would rather not be sick or disabled. When you have learned how to use them appropriately, powerful tools are beneficial.

I think most people think that “occult” is a scary word. In the Middle Ages, “malificia” was often used to gloss witch, herbalist, and poisoner. If you had the ability to heal, you had the ability to poison, and the assumption was made that you would do the worst. Having defined women as a “weaker vessel”, it was important not to let them have power, as they’d abuse it. (Similar to the reason it was illegal in the South to teach a negro to read.) A lot of modern Americans fear that if someone is “psychic” that means, not that they get (occasionally) useful flashes of information, but that they can hear what you’re thinking, or know your secrets, and will use that ability to take advantage of them. Since so little is known about psychic abilities, foolish fears find easy environment to grow.

Perhaps a reason behind this fear is that we can all think of times we acted on our worse impulses, and worry what would have happened had we had more power at that moment. Those moments scare us, and stick with us. We tend to forget all the times we had a nasty impulse and decided “that would be wrong/stupid” and discarded it. That’s forgotten (although far more frequent). Reinforce this with times we’ve seen others abuse power, and we can become afraid to embrace power of any sort whether psychic, political, or physical. But it’s as unreasonable to fear our “occult” abilities as it is to fear that if we light a campfire, we will set the forest ablaze. Sadly, the media is far more likely to use examples of things going wrong and getting out of control than mentioning normal daily occurrences. They aren’t “news”; they won’t sell ads. The result is that almost everything we hear about the occult is from horror movies.

There’s another “horror” story many know: Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” where a man caught out in the Yukon alone discovers just how important fire is to man in that environment. The horror comes not from the “unknown” but from that which the protagonist could have known had he been wise enough to learn.

We need to embrace the reality that like any other resource, we will learn how to control the fire, and not abuse it. We can resist our worst impulses. We can use our inner abilities to improve our lives. We do not need to give something up because it has the potential to do damage. The fire that burns also warms us, cooks our food, lights our way. The benefits come with control, from knowledge and practice, not avoidance.

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To each according to his need

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Robert Anton Wilson (in case you didn’t know) was an American author, futurist, and self-described agnosticmystic. (It would be nice to get some agnostic mystics to come to CTCW.) But this quote makes an important point. “Every person you meet should be regarded as … walking wounded”. Even if you find that rare sane person, it won’t hurt anything to treat them with the same care and consideration you would extend to those who NEED it. When in recent history did we decide that it was a good idea to ration care and not apply it universally?

My best guess is that we over-extended the idea that we should include our own needs to considering our own needs to the exclusion of those of others. Some of us were taught to put others first, but when the cabin pressure drops, you put your own mask on BEFORE you help your loved ones with theirs. You’re not going to be able to help anyone else if you pass out first. (check out the Psychic EMT class in our tapes.) It’s incredibly important to take care of yourself for so many reasons, most of them are practical. But remember treating yourself kindly doesn’t preclude treating others with a response appropriate to their needs. Yes, occasionally someone needs a sharp dose of reality that may be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always best to deliver painful statements of truth. If you do that, you’ll be ramping up the pain level until it’s unbearable, and frankly, counterproductive. So remember to take care of yourself, while being aware of what level of response will serve others best.

Someone with PTSD is going to need different interaction than those who haven’t been damaged. When passing out loads or assignments to a group, it is wise give each person a burden or job that they can handle (not saying that a little challenge isn’t sometimes good, but making it impossible doesn’t get the job done, and doesn’t help them either). Sometimes it may be that the person in the wheelchair is the perfect one to hand the delicate package; don’t be blinded by preconceived stereotypes. But so many people have invisible burdens, treating everyone with kindness and courtesy is unlikely to not help. As with sexual consent, always ask. There’s a truism that if you want to get something done, ask a busy person. Some of that is because the people who get a lot done know how to get things done, but sometimes it’s because they’re someone who ‘can’t say no’.

Disney’s Aladdin- the Genii expresses frustration

You many not intend to take someone’s ability to refuse away, but that inability may be a “preexisting condition” of which you are unaware. A lot of people don’t think they’re allowed to refuse a request for help. So learn this from both sides. You are allowed to examine any request and say no if it is not a good time for you to go along with it, and other people are allowed to do the same. (There are a few situations, for example, the military, where following orders is required, but please do not extend that behavior beyond the special situation within which and for which it was designed.) Ask, extend the option to refuse, and take time to decide when you are asked. Be gentle with yourselves and others. We can get through this together.

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Reality of the Missing Bit

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There’s a game where each player is asked to get others to guess an object without using any gestures, only words, but also no related words. We learned that one of the best ways to make someone aware of something is to show it’s absence. For example, if you want to open a door and there’s nothing to grasp and turn- you get doorknob, right?

Plato used the allegory of a cave where people tried to think of the world outside by the shadows cast on the wall from outside. This does convey how a shadow is an imperfect representation of the real form, but still, a shadow does give you a shape to imagine, and what is the shadow but the absence of the light that’s hitting everywhere around it?

When we are trying to figure out what we need, we often overlook those things that are all around us. How often to we remember that we need air- until the supply is cut off? How often do we think about encouragement or affection, unless there’s a lapse in what we usually get? As I age, I am suddenly aware of the energy I had when I was young, and had no idea that I had it. How often have you or a friend complained to a doctor about losing your ability to do complex mental math, lift 300 pounds, run a 5 minute mile, or something you used to do, only to have your concern dismissed because most people can’t do it anyway? But if it’s something you had and you’ve lost, it makes an obvious hole in your life that is hard to ignore, whether others don’t feel that as a loss or not.

Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs

In 1943 Abraham Maslow created an image to explain his theory of the hierarchy of human needs, including many we often forget. Often we only consider physical needs, and forget our psychological, emotional and spiritual needs. The thing about the physical is that it’s easier to measure, so we lean toward that. In the physical, Maslow remember air, and the less obvious homeostasis (the requirement for balancing levels of of the various bodily systems). but his pyramid reminds us that humans REQUIRE safety, and love, and positive interaction with those around them, and well as feeling the pinnacle- finding our life’s purpose. Without that, we have only a foundation. We need the whole structure. This is something we do well to think about.
If you have trouble figuring out what’s missing, try looking at the shadow, or where the emptiness shows. And asking for help is not a bad way either. (It occurred to me that while it’s hard for one paper doll to stand, a string of them support each other and make it easy.) Remember the idea of homeostasis- some times you may need heat, sometimes cool, sometimes quiet, other times stimulation, sometimes you may need to be alone, sometimes you need to be with others. None of those times is wrong, you need all of them to create the right balance. It’s all good at the right time.

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