Shame Vs Neediness

I feel like I am in a constant battle between acting on my feelings of neediness versus acting (or not acting) based on my feelings of shame.

Both are two of the strongest most intensely painful feelings on my spectrum of feelings, and yet both pull me in ways that are totally opposite from one another.

The neediness compels me to reach out to the people I rely on the most, to rely on them for my every need, to regress to my childlike state – yearning to be comforted, soothed, held, loved. I act like a baby trying to get her baby needs met. They can never be met. It breeds my attachment pain. And deep deep shame.

The shame drives me to cut myself off from needing anyone at all, to block myself from reaching out even when I need support, to shy away from the world and not let people into mine. The shame makes me want to be treated negatively, to be hurt, to be used and mistreated. The shame breeds shame.

I feel shame for being so needy, or I feel needy and alone for disconnecting myself because of the shame – and the spiral perpetuates.

I think the neediness and shame paradox is one of my biggest struggles; it infiltrates into many aspects of my life and dictates much of what I do (and do not) do. It is a lonely place to be. Stuck in the middle of an endless tug of war, it is certainly a catch 22 – I just cannot win.

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11 thoughts on “Shame Vs Neediness

  1. I can relate to your struggle of these two opposing aspects- I’m just the same. Quite how to fix the problem I’m not quite sure, if you ever figure it out let me know! I’m right here with ya 💙💜

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  2. Hello there! I’m from the US and I happened upon your blog looking up ABC Please. I’ve been in DBT for about 3 and a half years now. I had graduated to level 3 and was on a “by need” basis with my therapist but things kind of went haywire after the school year ended for me (I’m in college) and I’m trying to get back into stage 2 which doesn’t require quite as much of a wait as it would going into stage 1.

    I identify so much with this. I’m married with two kids and asking my husband for anything, relying on him for anything has become very difficult. At times, he can be rather resentful so I end up holding a lot of my feelings in until I can’t anymore. Our electricity was turned off about a month ago because he didn’t pay the bill and I just couldn’t cope. I shut down. It didn’t help he didn’t validate me and even tried to keep me from getting emotional help because he didn’t want me to tell anyone. I couldn’t say anything to him because he would get defensive. I couldn’t call my sister because he told me not to. And when I called the coaching phone (where you could call and get a return call from a therapist to help with skills in a crisis), no one called back.

    Another incident a week or so later told me I needed to get back to group so I’m waiting to hear back on that. But oh, do I know that feeling of not wanting to ask ANYONE for help or when someone offers help, to be almost suspicious of it, expecting my welcome will wear out quickly. My family has done things in the past when I have relied on them that have me not wanting to ask for help at all. I HATE asking for help, being vulnerable in anyway. And that shame and fear of “being a burden” oftentimes prevents me from asking for help when I really DO need it.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble on, just thought I’d say hello from the other side.

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    • Thanks for your comment Janeen. I am so sorry to hear everything you are going through, it sounds like there is a lot on your plate at the moment.
      I of course really relate to what you have shared, especially the fear of being a ‘burden’. I am very much in that right now..
      Also, I know that a lot of this stuff may come from us (r.e. shame vs neediness) but I just want to point out and validate (if I may) that there seem to be some behaviours on your husband’s part as well which undoubtedly complicate the situation. It sounds really difficult and I hope that you manage to be as gentle as you can on yourself within the current chaos…

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      • Thank you. Yes, I have to agree with you regarding my husband. I (and many who have met him including my therapist) suspect he has ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) but he doesn’t believe in it and this does complicate things greatly. I’m often having to take care of him in many ways like I would a child (making sure he doesn’t lose his glasses, making sure he’s up in time for work because he works overnights, etc). My therapist keeps telling me NOT to do this because it just enables him (and I certainly don’t get anything in return for it, he tends to belittle me because my anger flares up now and again) but I fear the consequences if I don’t (him losing his job mostly which has happened many times). I did go back to college and will be graduating in a year so step by step, I’m working on being less dependent financially but eek, emotionally depending on others is also something he (my therapist) wants me to work on and that’s harder. Lots of rejection fears which are somewhat valid because I have been rejected in the past but even knowing that won’t always be the case doesn’t make it easier for me to get close to people, you know?

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      • Yes completely. My biggest current struggle is that I am so dependent on my therapist emotionally and psychologically and really struggle to regulate myself when I’m struggling. I really understand that.
        It sounds like you’re taking steps to becoming the version of yourself you would like to be (college, therapy, etc) so I hope you’re not beating yourself up about your relationship stuff. Of course there is a place for that stuff to, but gently gently, slowly slowly. I just hope he is treating you well….. Take care

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  3. Shame really does perpetuate more shame. Thanks for this post, it puts it in clear words. Same is my strongest painful emotion. I deal with my boyfriend’s neediness on the regular.
    For my own neediness issues, one of the sections had a bullet point of, “don’t act helpless when you are not helpless.” It resonated with me a lot and I repeat to myself often.
    Of course that takes great deal of mindfulness sometimes, but it often works.
    It rolls into shame for me in the way that I will easily remember: how ashamed acting needy makes me feel. And how much I cringe when my boyfriend does it. And how much better I feel when I do things for myself, even if it was very difficult.

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