You stop being too needy once you stop expecting from others what you are not giving to yourself.
It can be devastating when someone accuses you of being too needy. It’s almost ironic since, if you really are ‘too needy’, you are probably desperate for that person’s approval to feel good about yourself. And yet, here they are giving you the equivalent of a punch in the face: you thought you were giving that person love, when in fact this whole time you were annoying them.
Crushing, isn’t it?
The problem is, you probably don’t even realize that you are too needy until someone tells you. When that comes, it might propel you in a downward spiral of self-hatred and make you question everything about yourself, and make you even more… needy.
There is no need to go down that road and you can become less insecure.
So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, that’s why you’re here: why are you so needy and what to do about it?
Are you too needy?
You know you are too needy when you’ve lost or start to lose all sense of self. You no longer know who you are, what you love or want, and can’t fathom the thought of being without that thing or person.
Perhaps you’ve become totally dependant on someone else’s approval, or maybe you are constantly seeking external validation through likes, compliments, or awards.
When you consciously or unconsciously stop yourself from doing things because you don’t have that external ‘support’ you need so much, then it may be time to reflect on your behavior.
Why are you so needy?
You are needy because there is a need inside of you that is not being met.
Yeah, genius, I know, but bear with me for a second.
You feel a void inside
This unmet need creates a void inside, which becomes a source of discomfort or pain.
The consequence of that emptiness is that you are now looking for something external to either help you avoid it or fill that void, thus making you needy. You need that ‘thing’ to cope with your emptiness or your pain. That ‘thing’ being another person (a boyfriend or girlfriend), a substance (food, alcohol, weed, cigarettes, drugs) … but really it can be anything (validation from friends, social media, teachers, etc.).
You are needy because you don’t know how to meet your own emotional, spiritual, intellectual or maybe even physical needs. Basically, you don’t know how to take care of yourself.
And so, you make something outside of yourself responsible for alleviating your internal pain. And that’s a bad idea.
When your happiness, self-worth, or sense of security lie on something external that is by definition impermanent, you are building your house on shaky grounds.
You are needy because you try to fill that void with external things
Emptiness is uncomfortable or painful so you try to avoid it at all cost. That’s where that ‘thing’ you need so badly comes into play.
If you constantly expect relief to come from something outside of you, it will provide only temporary relief or one that lasts only for as long as that external thing is there.
There is another name for that, btw: dependence.
“The situation in which you need something or someone all the time, especially in order to continue existing or operating” (Cambridge dictionary; dependence).
We also often confuse need for love, thinking things like: “I’m not needy, I just love being with you so much”, or “I don’t need alcohol, I just enjoy wine so much”.
Does that ring a bell?
This is you, trying to avoid yourself. It’s not about love, it’s about you.
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You probably forgot how that void got there
Often, this emptiness appeared many years ago and you probably don’t even remember how it all started.
You’ve probably spent a lot of time trying to pretend it wasn’t there. When you do that long enough, you strengthen the behavior but forget why you started it in the first place. This makes it hard to change.
Or maybe you do see that there’s an emptiness inside, but you don’t know what to do about it or you are unaware of your unhealthy coping mechanisms.
It’s hard to change something you don’t even know is there or don’t even know is ‘bad’.
How do you stop being so needy?
You stop being needy once you realize that a true, durable answer to your internal unease almost never comes from the outside.
Step 1: self-assess
It is time to go where you don’t want to go: within.
The first step is to reflect seriously on your behavior and look at yourself with honesty and compassion. But remember, it is time to self-assess, not judge or chastise.
Is your behavior unhealthy? Have people told you in the past that you were too needy or clingy? Was there any truth to their comments?
Ask yourself questions, observe your behavior, ask other people who love you what they think about your behavior (friends, ex or current boyfriends, or girlfriends if you are still on good terms). It may sting, but it will be worth it if you don’t wallow.
Step 2: figure out what that need is
Identify clearly what it is exactly that you are lacking and where it comes from.
For example, are you in need of love? Maybe you are particularly affectionate but your family was ‘colder’ and you didn’t feel loved enough growing up? Were you abandoned?…
Step 3: how are you filling that void at the moment?
In what way are you being too needy right now? Are you clinging to your spouse and cannot do anything by yourself? Do you stop yourself from going places if you don’t have someone with you? Do you always have to be the best at everything or it crushes you?
You need to understand what the problematic behavior is before you can correct it. Only when you know clearly what the problem is, can you start catching yourself the next time you do it and start correcting your behavior.
Step 4: start filling that void from inside.
You do that first by acknowledging that it’s not and it should not be other people’s responsibility to identify and fulfill your needs. Second, you must start giving yourself those things you lack or crave as you’ve identified them in steps 1 and 2. And finally, gradually learn to stop the behaviors identified in step 3.
It’s a process so be patient and keep trying.
- Get to know and learn to listen to yourself. One of the most effective ways I’ve found to do this is to start journaling.
- Stop the negative self-talk. This is by far the most damaging thing you are doing to yourself. Not only does it create a never-ending noise in your head that is suffocating your true nature, but you keep telling yourself hurtful things that make you even more in need of whatever coping mechanism you’ve developed.
- Learn to be the loving parent the child in you needs. Seriously, you need to start reassuring yourself like a child: encourage, soothe, reward, hug yourself, etc. And no, hugging yourself is not silly. What is silly is to keep talking to yourself as if you were trash.
- Identify the ways you have been neglecting yourself and start practicing self-care. It will take some time to learn what your specific needs are but it will be worth it.
- Establish a routine. A routine gives you something to fall back on no matter what is happening inside or outside of you. If you are too needy then you probably “fall apart” or let yourself go as soon as that thing on which you rely so much, disappears. When you have a routine, it becomes your new ‘crutch’ and it stops you from letting yourself go.
- Practice letting go of things and people. Start exploring minimalism and decluttering, identify your most meaningful relationships or create new ones, and let go of the ones that are not.
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Have you been told you were too needy? How are you dealing with that? Please don’t hesitate to email me or comment. I would really love to connect!