The High of Being Needed

Last updated on June 7, 2021

There’s nothing quite like being needed to make you feel good. This natural instinct serves in many ways but, like everything, there is a balance.

Do You Feel Good When You Give?

I know I do. There is something about giving to others that lifts my spirits. I get to forget about myself for a while and just serve. I get to see the impact of my giving on another person. And ultimately I get to feel good about myself for doing something helpful and kind.

I think there is a natural, built-in feedback loop that gives us an emotional “reward” for thinking about others, not just about ourselves. And this, of course, helps build healthy communities. It’s a positive feedback loop.

But There Is a Balance

The problem with any emotional high is that is can become addictive. Certainly, there are worse things to be addicted to than serving others, but it can become an addiction nonetheless.

Most of the time, this is not a problem. But the problem comes when the attachment to getting this high makes me disregard the fact that there may not be a need for my service. This can show up anywhere in life, but I see it most clearly when facilitating someone to do The Work in spoken form.

I Need Them to Find Relief, Is it True?

One of the biggest obstacles to being a “good” facilitator is the desire to help the client. The desire to be needed is so instinctual, yet in the case of doing The Work, it is inappropriate.

What is The Work? The Work is self-inquiry. That means that the self lifts itself up by its own self. No facilitator is needed. No teacher is needed. The role of the facilitator is simply to hold the space, to listen, to be compassionate, to guide back to the questions, but not to do The Work for the client.

The moment I want to help someone find their insights is the moment I stop facilitating The Work and begin to take on that person as my dependent. Now, they start to give me their power, and I start to solve their problems.

This Is the End of Self Empowerment

With the purpose of being of service, I end up stepping into someone’s process and taking over. This actually is not service but interference. It is disrespectful and it is binding. Now I have a “responsibility” to care for this new dependent that I have created for myself.

How did this muddle happen? My attachment to being needed—to the high of being needed—made me overstep my place as a facilitator. Attachment, even to something good like service, quickly becomes a problem.

Who Would You Be Without the Attachment?

I love this question because it brings everything back into balance again. I would be offering service (which feels good) but not overstepping the boundaries of my role. Without my attachment, I am not greedy for the high of being needed.

With this more even mindset I am listening, able to lend extra support when needed, but not doing The Work for my client, and not taking it personally when they don’t find relief. This more neutral place of service allows me to respond to the actual need—not to my own need to be needed!

This makes the client feel very safe. They can see that I am not going to take over their session, they can find their own way and I will walk with them as they do. It is companionship along the journey, not picking them up and carrying them on my back.

Freedom to Part Ways at Any Time

The acid test for me is to notice if I feel free to leave when our paths naturally part. Am I still thinking how I can help them? Or have I simply walked a while along the same road with my client and then departed without attachment. I love it when I am this free.

And if I’m not that free, I know what my work will be. I write down what I was wanting or needing from my client and I question it.

I want him to think I’m amazing.
I want him to come back for more.
I need him to need me.
I need him to rave about me to others.

As you can see, this need to be needed is pure ego. I’m basing my self-worth on being needed. When I am needed, I think, “What a great servant I am.” This is not true service, of course, but service with an aim to become great. It is not selfless humility but just the opposite.

True freedom lies in questioning these motives and coming to service without any idea of getting something. By questioning my needs and wants, I become less needy myself and more capable of service. Then I give exactly what is needed (no more, no less), I acknowledge when I don’t have anything helpful to offer, and I depart when it’s time to go.

And yes, giving continues to be a pleasure, but the high becomes more subtle, more expanded, less focused on a particular person. It becomes more just a part of who I am: a person of service.

Gain Some Experience Facilitating

If you want to practice facilitating in a structured course, join The Work 101. You’ll facilitate The Work in spoken form eight times during the course with different partners, and you will get the chance to question some of the hidden motives that come up when facilitating.

If you’re like me, you may find that questioning motives around facilitating helps lend clarity to many other areas of life.

Have a great week

“When someone is facilitating The Work, giving the four questions, he’s receiving at another level what I originally received inside me. If he’s really facilitating from a neutral position, without any motive, then he’s in the place where I am on the other side. It just gains in its freedom. It’s in or out: unlimited.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

Further reading: Are Your Thoughts Keeping You From Serving?

About the author

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.

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