Being or feeling needy is a serious disadvantage in life, because everyone can intuatively sense needy people and the natural human reaction is to resist giving needy people what they appear to want. This is called Psychological Reactance and can severely limit you in any area of life especially in tour career because there is a whole workforce conspiring against the needy person every day.
Another issue is that needy is only one step away from greedy, and greed makes people overstep their capability level and more likely to fail. It is a viscous cycle because the more someone fails, the more needy they become. And the more needy someone becomes, the more people pick up on it and subconsciously work to make them fail. There is only one answer – Avoid being needy
Everyone has needs, but knowing how to eliminate the presence and feeling of neediness is well worth understanding. Read on for my top tips.
How to Avoid Being Needy
- No matter what you do, do it as if you are doing it for free, for the experience, just for fun and do it to the best of your ability.
- Become aware, and if you have a needy feeling creeping up, where you feel you are not being rewarded, stamp it out because it will severely limit both what you are capable of achieving and the rewards you receive for your effort.
- If you find yourself in a situation where if you look back and look forward and have not found the rewards that you hoped for then work to change only that which you control (yourself and your actions).
Definition of Psychological Reactance
Psychological Reactance is the natural tendency for someone to resist what another person is trying to convince them to do. It is really social reactance and is the desire for every person to avoid being constrained by the will of another. Since it is a natural tendency and is so wide spread, it most likely has its roots in some kind of survival instinct. Some people are more prone to reactance than others and mood will also alter how people act.
An Excercise to understand Psychological Reactance
A good exercise to understand social reactance better is to see if you ever feel an impulse to say the opposite of what someone proposes. Just notice your impulses when someone proposes something and see if you feel the urge to disagree. An example where a friend says something like “That was the best movie I’ve seen in ages” and your impulse is to say “it wasn’t that great” even though you really liked it too. You might find you only react in the negative with certain people and this is quite normal. You are much more likely to instigate social reactance with someone you don’t like because, after all, if they are talking to you, they must need something.
So try this, and then after you get a feel for it, try and imagine what impulses and urges other people get when you are talking to them remembering it will be different with everyone depending on your relationship.
A Sad Insight
I love India. The sights, smells, food, people and thoughts that are awakened in such a rich and inspiring culture. When I travelled there last, I immersed myself in all things Indian and came across the following:
“India is a country full of potential”
but the next line really hit me.
… and will always remain so …*
This sentence has stuck with me as one of the saddest thoughts I have ever come across. Imagine the bright future of a whole country being visible to the world; being acknowledged by the world; but being just out of reach for generations ahead because of some trait or twist of fate that stops the full realization of potential. The realization of potential is the hope of every parent. Maslow calls it self-actualization and puts it at the top of his hierarchy of needs. What could possibly be enough to block the desire and drive of every parent and human at a nation-wide scale?
The practical evidence of reduced potential - A mentor writes off a country
While discussing international outsourcing recently, a mentor of mine said “Don’t bother using India. For the most part, it’s just too hard. As soon as you get something going, they become needy.” He went on to say that there are exceptions in some high-knowledge areas, but the requirement to continually negotiate and monitor output drains resources and hampers long term relationships. The discussion reminded me of earlier experiences I had with high staff turnover in India as staff were trained up then inevitably left for new roles elsewhere.
I truly hope that India will overcome this issue. Perhaps it is because the country is used to struggling to meet basic needs that you need to be needy in order to survive, but India is right on the cusp of greatness now, so once food and shelter needs are met, being needy is a real negative.
Just Deliver the Minimum Vs. Over-Deliver then Check if worth doing again.
“Holy cow” I thought. Can it really be? Is there a deep rooted gaping hole of need in some people and even some cultures? This would result in the desire to optimize every relationship so much that it ruins the long term future. Even though the individual feels that they are doing the right thing for themselves, the approach of maximizing what you personally get out of every relationship is inherently acting needy and limiting for a number of reasons including:
- the mental drain of continually thinking you should be better rewarded
- you unconsciously reduce your own efforts to correspond with what you believe you are getting out of the relationship which hampers your own growth
- others sense your need and will position themselves against you fully meeting your needs due to social reactance.
If on the other hand, you always strive to over-deliver then at the end of a time (perhaps a project or year or even a day) you look back and assess if, on balance, you were rewarded, then you will grow exponentially (personally and career wise) and although the rewards may not be immediate, they will flow.
Needy or not?
Money flows in the path of least resistance, and whether my mentor was right or wrong, it highlights the fact that a feeling is enough to dramatically change any relationship (he doesn’t use India). The following tips are for those who may be limiting themselves through being needy. They may or may not apply to India!
10 Questions to ask yourself to avoid being limited by Needy -
- “Am I feeling needy in this particular relationship [whether personal or business]?” - Acknowledge the feeling of needy, this will help you recognize and take action.
- “Am I doing what I am doing now at least partially for myself?” - If not then you need to find what part of your job or relationship is directly beneficial to you or what you can change.
- “Is there a root cause of my feeling of need?” - Have you been hurt in the past (eg a bad relationship) or are you fearful of loss (money/job)?
- “Can I let a fear go today?” - Fear is a great cause of need because it pushes you to focus on the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (survival). Letting a fear go will lighten your load and speed forward progress.
- “Am I proud of what I do?” – Pride in your actions will inoculate you against feeling needy. If you are not proud of what you do every day then you must change the things in your control EG. Become proud – be the best, change what you are doing – new job or change your actions within a relationship – give more than you expect in return.
- “Am I moving forward or am I currently stuck?” - Being stuck will make you needy because you are not happy. Acknowledge it, make plans and take action.
- “What will I have achieved by next year?” – If you feel temporarily stuck, then looking ahead at your future goals will allow you to make a small step forward each day towards your own goals.
- “Am I blaming others for my own lack of forward progress?” – The only person who is truly interested in your own fulfillment is yourself, so take responsibility.
- “How can I over-deliver?” - There is a funny thing about people who over-deliver. Their peers tend to feel that they have an easy life. They know that they have a harder life. And it is only in hindsight that everyone agree they had a better life.
- “Can I recognize reactance in myself?” - If you do recognize the feeling to oppose what others do or say at times for no real reason, then you will better understand that if you come into any relationship asking (being needy) without delivering first, the natural reaction will be that the other person or people around you will unconsciously attempt to minimize what they give you in return for your efforts.