The Problem with Needing to Be "Heard"

As many of you know, I have a past of complicated, codependent, and crazy relationships. I’ve blamed the men, I’ve blamed myself, and for a brief period of time, I thought I found the answer in couples therapy.

And never before have I been more wrong.

Harville Hendrix, the Founder of Imago Therapy, claims that we can change the world by changing our relationships. That sounds nice, until I truly listened.

He believes that we strive to connect to others in order to experience a taste of the joy & love we once received from our primary caregivers. In a recent lecture, he stated that this connection is our deepest desire and losing it is our greatest fear.

If that is true, then does it make any sense to look to another relationship to fix one from the past?

The belief that we would find joy in a lover’s arms because it will temporarily quell a deeper abandonment issue is the exact reason most of us are codependent. We’re constantly searching for a band aid to cover a hemorrhage.

Dr. Hendrix believes a connection occurs through safe conversation in which the speaker’s feelings are validated by his or her partner. Sure, it felt nice when my ex-boyfriend said he “heard” me and that my feelings “made sense.” But it didn’t bring me joy. Because none of it was real.

Let me explain. In the midst of a heated battle about whether my boyfriend was actually doing something he had sworn to do months ago, a light bulb went off:

I really don’t need him to validate that my feelings regarding his actions are okay. The fact that I’m needing him to tell me I have a right to feel this way is exactly what’s keeping me in a relationship that’s wrong for both of us.

Instead of my having a desire for him to understand where I'm coming from, I needed him to tell me my feelings were okay to have. And ultimately, the belief that feelings need to be validated to be valid was the cause of my codependency. 

Here’s what it comes down to: If you don’t believe your feelings are genuine, real, and legitimate then nothing your partner says will make a difference. Whether or not your partner gets you is secondary to honoring your own feelings.

And while I loved pathologizing what was wrong with my then boyfriend, what you give your attention to only grows. Taking inventory and focusing on your partner’s inability to understand you will only create a deeper void to fill. All that negativity creates anxiety, changing your endorphins to cortisol and blocking your inner guidance, strength, and resilience.

After all, your partner isn't going to fix your old wounds. You are.

For the record, I’m not saying couples therapy is bad or that it wasn't helpful for me. One just needs a strong sense of self and a clear picture of what they want to achieve.

So here’s the solution: Give it to yourself. Heal your core fears and wounds and stop thinking that someone else will fix it for you. You can spend the rest of your life craving a connection to others when what you’re really searching for is a connection to yourself.

I’d love to hear from you! Share your story in the Comments section below!