Counselling Needs and Desires Series

By Mignon Johnson
28th July 2020

“Counselling Needs and Desires”

My counselling clients have many needs and desires that are shared with me. I will be exploring some of these here – it would be interesting to hear how these may touch on your own desires and experiences – please do leave me a comment below. For more information on the benefits of counselling with me, please follow this link to find out more about how I work 

1. Conflict-Free Relationships

“As a young child, I wanted an emotional connection, to cuddle up and talk about things. My family don’t talk about anything emotional”.

I commonly hear this expression.

Everything you project outward is a reflection of your inner world. Happy people have fewer demands, better able to self regulate their emotions, they can be emotionally self-reliant and sustain more fulfilled relationships for longer.

And yet, dysfunction in relationships are the cause of so much angst and misery in many people’s life, resulting in painful, disruptive relationships and contribute to marriage breakdowns.

If you are comfortable and resolved with your past, then your outward projections are less fractious, less disagreeable. This is further reflected in your relationships with others, both at home and at work. When you can begin to view your present experiences through the lens of self-compassion, self-acceptance and forgiveness you can begin to feel peaceful equanimity within yourself.

Self-acceptance brings calm and enables a shift from blame, doubt and shame towards allowance, tolerance and trust.

Counselling can help you to reframe your past, bringing you closer to reconciliation with regret, remorse and resentment and lead to healthier, conflict-free relationships.

2. Be More Empowered in Relationships

“We talk about how we spend our money and discuss where to go on holiday, but I trust my partner’s judgement about these things”.

How does early conditioning affect the way you feel about yourself?

Some people learn from a young age that it’s okay for their needs to be fulfilled through other people. This makes it normal for them to be reliant upon this strategy as a means of feeling whole or complete. As a child, this was the normal way the family was constructed. Yet, somewhere along the way, we were meant to learn how to become self-sufficient, to learn how to meet our own needs from within, and become the self-actualised person we’re meant to be. If a person has never learned a strategy for personal empowerment, they may have a tendency to project that responsibility onto their partners and work colleagues.

When a person is reliant upon another for needs, it leaves them not just feeling inadequate in some way, but it also puts an incredible amount of emotional pressure on their partners. They may be leaning on a partner in an unconscious way and this helps to fill a void within them. If this is the only source of empowerment for them, it will eventually become a burden on the relationship.

3. Healthy Self Esteem in Relationships

Client: “I want to do what I want to do, not what they want from me!”

Me: “What’s stopping you?“

Some people are fortunate to have received unconditional acceptance and approval by others which enabled them to develop healthy self-esteem. They are in touch with feelings in a healthy way and have the capacity to live in the present moment without feeling threatened.

Some others are not so lucky.

You may have come across people-pleasing behaviour?

If someone has been surrounded by sharp criticisms, lack of positive validation reinforced by condemnation, criticism and judgement by others, it is highly likely their self esteem is damaged by fear of adverse judgement. They may develop long term maladaptive coping strategies for adjusting to their early environment, doubtful of their own thoughts and feelings, preferring to adopt other people’s prejudices in an unconscious attempt to hide deeper feelings of shame and inadequacy, to avoid criticism or being left out. They survive on other’s approval and affirmation and remain dependent on the positive judgement of others for a sense of self-worth.

Counselling helps to make the unconscious conscious.

4. Limitless Confidence in Relationships

Children who feel emotionally disconnected from their primary caregivers are likely to feel confused, misunderstood, and insecure, no matter how much they’re loved.

It is reassuring that in studies conducted by Mary Ainsworth (1971, 1978), the majority of the sample comprised securely attached children.
Infants develop a secure attachment when the caregiver is sensitive to their needs, and respond with empathy. These children feel confident that the attachment figure (primary caregiver) will be available to meet their needs, provide a safe base to explore the environment and they seek the attachment figure in times of distress. The study hypothesises that securely attached infants are easily soothed by the attachment figure when upset.
How does your attachment style affect your confidence, in your intimate relationships? What about your work relationships

5. Balance, Equality, Autonomy in Relationships

Relationships are essential for our health and happiness. We need each other for love and support. While taking time out from the relationship to do your own thing can help you to appreciate your relationships more, too much space can be destructive or an indicator of avoidant attachment patterns.

It is unrealistic to expect one person to fulfil all our needs. It takes two to share and cooperate to bring power balance.

What happens when one partner is unwilling to cooperate?

The message, “My desires are more important than yours” can be disempowering for the partner who wants more from the relationship, suggesting that the non-consenting partner is in a position of power and control, to withhold or grant cooperation, affection and support, failing to see the needs or desires of the other partner in the relationship.

Do you recognise unconscious relationship games?
In a healthy relationship, power shifts back and forth, where partners consider the needs and of the other and there is a give and take of power accordingly.

What does autonomy feel like? How would your relationship change if you are more independent of thought and behaviour?

I’ve explored some of the issues my clients have shared with me – I would love to hear your experiences too, especially if these may touch on your own desires and experiences – please do leave me a comment below. For more information on the benefits of counselling with me, please follow this link to find out more about how I work 


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Mignon Johnson

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