by Malti Bhojwani
“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world…” crooned Barbara Streisand in the 60s and she hit the nail on the head. Among our basic human needs are that of significance to others and intimacy. This is not to be confused with co-dependency or being needy, but rather it is the acknowledgement of our humanness, which existed when we were born and stays with us always.
We need people to care for us, to care for, for emotional support and physical touch. We need them for fun and laughter, for companionship and adventure, for growth and learning and for us to lean on or even to hide behind sometimes.
Here are 5 kinds of people you need in your life to help you grow:
1. The One Who Champions (Mentor)
This is the one who encourages you in anything you decide to do. They give you fuel and support you in seeing the possibility of your dreams coming true. This one also often offers you the friendly competition needed to keep your steam. On days when your own self-esteem and belief is dwindling, you need this one to believe in you and say the encouraging words you so need to hear. “I KNOW you can do this.” “I have seen you nail much bigger challenges than this before.”
This one brainstorms ideas with you and allows you to dream beyond what is visible. Their enthusiasm and belief in you stretches your vision of what is possible and this helps you to go beyond your own boundaries and fears. You respect this one for their wisdom and their success in their own lives.
2. The One Who Loves You Unconditionally
This one loves you no matter what, will always take your side and allows you to be you. They would also make commitments to you that you can trust, listen to you and share ideas. They go beyond the call of friendship to help you with their resources and time. They do not expect you to do or be anything more than what you are, and they let you cry if you need to, indulge when you want to and complain all you have to without being judgmental or offering advice. They don’t invalidate your feelings even when they may be irrational and they make you feel like the most significant person in the world.
“The people who help us grow toward true self offer unconditional love, neither judging us to be deficient nor trying to force us to change but accepting us exactly as we are. And yet this unconditional love does not lead us to rest on our laurels. Instead, it surrounds us with a charged force field that makes us want to grow from the inside out – a force field that is safe enough to take the risks and endure the failures that growth requires.” Parker Palmer
3. The One Who Says It Like It Is
They often play devil’s advocate and point out the prices that you will need to pay at different junctures in your life. We can have almost anything, when we are willing to bear the consequences. This is the person who will not mince their words or sugar-coat anything for you. They will point out your past behavior and patterns as a way to remind you of how you typically have been.
This one will notice if you have put on two kilos or if your hair needs to be coloured. This one will point it out if they notice you spending, eating, drinking too much. This one is like your external conscience mirroring back to you what you may have missed seeing yourself. Beware of feeling the need to sometimes tell white lies to them, and if you do, then it is important to check in with yourself why you are doing so. Perhaps you are in denial about your own weaknesses and it is time to pull your socks up a little?
This is often also the one you go to for style, cooking, social etiquette advice, the one who knows who to connect with, what to order and where to shop for whatever you may need, from skincare to kitchenware. This one has seen more of the world than you and is like your personal “Google search” with the ratings and recommendations. You would trust this one for parenting, medical or financial advice.
4. The One Who is Always Dissatisfied
This one pushes you beyond your limits and encourages you to stretch and become uncomfortable. They tend to complain and find everything you do not enough. Communicating with this one helps you to practise being assertive and helps you to build your own case. You will realise that you often come up with reasons and excuses for this one and a hundred different disclaimers, but they don’t buy your “BS”. This one expects more from you and if you do have the other four types of people in your life to build your self love, it is empowering to have this one too, who enable you to truly become better at what you do. Above all that, they make you laugh at yourself.
5. The One Who Needs Us (Mentee)
This is the one who makes you feel responsible and keeps you performing at the top of your own game, because this one is watching you and looking up to you. This one comes to you for a shoulder, and for support and encouragement. Indirectly this one holds you most accountable. Imagine if you had declared that you would have achieved certain results, you would not want to let this one down.
I have found the most motivation in living up to the expectations of anyone who looked up to me. We need to feel needed too and having someone around who turns to you for support and unconditionallove and acceptance is as much a requirement as the other way around. This one validates our existence and helps our own self esteem. The confidence it brings to us is priceless and the responsibility to “keep earning the right to be looked up to by this person” may well be the underlying force that helps us keep growing ourselves.
The mistake we often make is expecting one person to fulfill all these needs and then complaining when we are dissatisfied. Instead of expecting either your spouse, partner, mum or best friend to wear all these different hats, be realistic and understand that it is not possible.
Sure one person may be able to play different roles in our lives from time to time, but it would take a lot of pressure off and remove feelings of dissatisfaction if we could communicate lovingly to our significant others that as much as some activities should remain exclusive, trying to be everything to someone is unrealistic.