I was at a conference at my church, The Warrior Connection, and our guest speaker, Dr. Terry Wardle, starting speaking about our core longings. To sum it up in shortly core longings are basic human needs. There are six core-longings: love, safety, acceptance, to be understood, significance, and purpose. As we develop we look for ways to fulfill these core longings. If we are developing right our core longings will be met. If we are not then that core longing can become a lifelong struggle. We spend our entire adulthood looking for love, bouncing from partner to partner. We can try to find safety in material objects. I never heard the concept of core longings put so effectively in words. It made me to start to think about what my core longings are and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Looking for acceptance and trying to be understood have been constant themes throughout my life. They are my core longings. I do not struggle with being accepted as much as I did in the past. In high school and college I belonged to many social circles looking for acceptance. I probably drank a lot more than I should have to be accepted. I slept around with women to not only be accepted by them but also to accepted by my male friends. I called some of the women I slept with hoes because they let me sleep with them so that I can be accepted by my peers (that is as dumb as it reads). Since hindsight is always 2020 I can now say that 85% of the things I did for acceptance were very dumb and I should not have done any of it. But, if we are being honest, if you are looking for acceptance (or anything that you want) you will almost do anything to obtain it.
I had to learn to be comfortable in my skin. I am a handicapped, black nerd who grew up poor. But I am also a college educated child of God who enjoys sports, Pokémon, drinking, and a lot things that range from normal to weird. The right people will accept me as long as I am myself and if they do not, it is what it is. I no longer feel the need to try to put myself in one social category or pretend I like or dislike something. I can finally be myself unconditionally and damn that is a good feeling.
Being understood is a different story. I was in group counseling class and that day’s leader asked us to draw our first memory. As I sat there and thought about my earliest memories I became very uncomfortable. Most of my first memories were me trying to be understood. There was that one time my father asked me his name in front of his friends and he cussed me out hit me when I did not have the correct answer. That sent me down a path of always over explaining myself to the point of verbal exhaustion. It is something I struggle with today. In conversations with people I try too hard to get my point across. At work, I often talk my bosses in circles trying to explain my reasoning. In my efforts to explain myself I have found that it often causes me to lose credibility with those I am trying to explain myself to. I know what I want to say and how I want to say it but it just does not come out right.
To combat this I often shut down and do not explain myself at all. I tell myself it is pointless because others will not understand. Part of the reason I dated around so much can also be traced to my longing to be understood. I would find different women that could understand a certain part of me and entertain/date/whatever we called it in college them all. My intention was just to have people to talk to but all I did was ending up hurting people that I cared about. In turn, I withdrew deeper into my own mind. I had no one but myself so I turned to the only outlet that I knew: writing. Writing allows me to be understood by the readers and it allows me to understand myself better.
We have to figure out what are core longings are so that we can work on them. What is it that you desire most? Do you want love? Purpose? Significance? Safety? Or are you like me and want acceptance or to be understood? Once you figure out what you desire, think about what you do to get it? Is it a healthy habit? Is it something that you would your future children to be doing? Or is it something that you know you should not be doing? If it is a negative habit (drugs, promiscuity, infidelity, etc.), I suggest that you find more positive ways to get the longing. I personally found it in God but wherever you find it, hold on to it. It is yours. I promise, you will be much happier.