Baby, if I’ve got you. I don’t need a parachute
“I don’t need a parachute. Baby, if I’ve got you. Baby, if I’ve got you. I don’t need a parachute. You’re gonna catch me. You’re gonna catch if I fall. Down n down …… “ The song by Cheryl Cole has us shaking our heads in disbelief. Only a fool would attempt to jump off a cliff or sky dive without a parachute. Ok, so it’s meant metaphorically, but even then it’s totally unrealistic and way off. After all, how can just one other person be your all in all, rescue you every time you feel unsafe, make you feel secure at all times and meet your every emotional need.
Yet so often we hear people say, If only I could find someone who loved me then I would feel complete and whole. Only if I get married will I be happy. This person will make the difference to my existence. If only my partner would give me more attention then I would feel more worthwhile. If only I had someone in my life I would not be so bored and unhappy. He/she will heal all the broken places in my life and fill in all those missing pieces.
The reality of life however, is that relationships can’t make you happy, fulfilled and satisfied on their own. They are not designed for that either. They are experiences that help us grow and explore ourselves. They stretch our boundaries and open up a whole new way of living. They are often great teachers, and yes, they can give us great joy and fulfillment but only if we have already learned how to give those same things to ourselves first.
Most psychologists agree that there are four basic emotional needs, which are the need to be loved and to love; the need to belong; the need for a good self-image; and the need for autonomy i.e. the need for some private personal space and control.
Dr Dennis Sugrue (clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan) says that expecting a partner to fill these emotional needs is not only unfair but also unreasonable. He says people who believe in themselves and have a sense of control over their emotions and lives are secure. He says that looking for someone else to make you feel complete is not the way forward as these needs cannot be met by someone else. To put those demands on someone else is to set up yourself and the relationship for failure.
This unrealistic expectation is probably one of the major reasons for disappointment, anger, frustration and breakdown of romantic relationships. So before jumping into a relationship or running from one partner to another to fill that empty void in your life, be courageous and do the hard work of taking responsibility for your own emotional needs. This would mean learning how to love yourself first, warts and all. Acknowledge your strengths, gifts and talents and celebrate them joyfully. Learn to be honest and humble about your weaknesses and accept your limitations. Generously give and receive love with all the people you already have in your life right now and connect with family and friends on a deeper level. Take time to create and savour joyful and fun moments. Choose to live life fully and to make your own life happier and more fulfilled.
Interestingly you will find that as you become more secure in yourself people will be attracted to you, as you will no longer come across as needy, clingy and desperate. The secure person does not have to look outside himself/herself for completion. This doesn’t mean a secure person is self-sufficient. Secure people still need others for companionship, intimacy, fun etc but they don’t depend on others to feel complete and whole.
A secure person knows how to love and be loved, has a sense of belonging and can see purpose in life, believes in himself/herself, and has a sense of control over his/her own life. It is only from this space of security and wholeness that you will be able to fully enjoy and participate in the give and take of a mature fulfilled relationship.
If you feel you need some help in getting to that healthy space, consider talking it over with one of our professional counsellors at TalkItOver.