I recently identified nine spiritual needs that I think relate to our spiritual development and growth. I’m calling this #SacredSpiritualGrowth Saturday; I originally was going to make it specific to spiritual needs but I love studying human development and I think there will be more to say on this broader topic. When we neglect our spiritual needs, they have lots of ways of making themselves known. This can include feeling out of touch with a deeper meaning to life, rejecting others’ spiritual pursuits, engaging in unhealthy decision-making, and spending unnecessary amounts of money.
1. Lack of Meaning and Purpose
A few years ago, I began to feel that I was putting in time instead of enjoying my life. Even though I wasn’t objectively overwhelmed by obligations, it felt like each day was filled only with adult responsibility and no time for fun and play. I see now that I wasn’t addressing very many of my spiritual needs, leaving me drained and uninspired.
If you find yourself struggling with feeling like your life is meaningless and has no purpose, untended spiritual needs are one possibility. This attitude could also be a sign of depression. The interesting thing is that seeking out experiences of gratitude, compassion and other spiritual needs can be part of working on mental health concerns as well as spirituality.
2. Eye-Rolling at All Things Spiritual
This is straight out of Sigmund Freud’s playbook, which is one from which I don’t normally read! But I am on board to an extent with his idea of projection. Projection involves seeing in others the things we feel shame about in ourselves. I’ve been there with this where I found my mind immediately rejecting what others had to say when they shared their spiritual ideas and practices. I didn’t want to listen or take in their experiences.
If this happens to you, it’s certainly possible that their spiritual walk is so different from yours that relating to it is challenging. It is also possible that they are tapping into a spiritual necessity that is unfulfilled in you, and it’s unconsciously pressing on you. This could make your mind dismiss their experiences without really fully considering them.
I sometimes suspect this for myself when I just can’t let go of something another person shared that has no immediate impact on me; I find myself arguing against it again and again in my head. I want to highlight this doesn’t mean it’s wise to go jump on the bandwagon of whatever the other person’s belief system is. Instead, consider what the unmet need you have might be from within your own spiritual focus.
3. Indecision or Impulsiveness
When we are disconnected from Source, we tend to struggle with decision-making. Some of us, myself included, strike out in every direction at once, attempting to solve our issues by moving through them without much consideration. When I was renting an apartment, the furnace went out one cold winter day. I spent about $500 buying space heaters because I decided that a bit of chill would immediately lead to every pipe in my house freezing and bursting, and that there was no way my landlords would take me seriously or respond in time. Let’s just say I do have some issues with anxiety! I felt chagrined when the problem was fixed in a timely manner and I was left with way more heating power than I knew what to do with.
At other times, a lack of attunement to our spiritual needs may leave us feeling unable to render life decisions. We may delay our dreams because we don’t trust ourselves enough to step out in boldness. I believe that listening to what we need on a spiritual level, and taking time to make sure we get it can allow a groundswell of creativity, inspiration and energy to burst forth. In the times where I’ve nurtured myself spiritually, I feel a sense of inner groundedness from which I can elevate my intentionality and sense of purpose.
4. Increased Consumerism
As weird as it may seem, this for me has been a sign that I’m getting warmer. I suddenly must go to every hippie/witchy/metaphysical store in the area and buy all the pretties. I also went through a short spate of buying about 40 books on Goddess Spirituality! Owning a lot of spiritual items or taking seven online courses at once does not a spiritual person make. There can be a lot of mockery of people who engage in these behaviors, but I actually see it as a hopeful sign that spiritual needs are activated and are, like a little kid in a candy store, trying to find their nourishment.
When this occurs for me, I eventually settle myself down and take a hard look at what I’m really trying to accomplish. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I’ve made more of an improvement in my budget since I began this blog than pretty much any other period of time in my life. I knew there was something waiting to be birthed in me, now that it finally gestated, I am spending much more time in genuine spiritual practice and having a lot more fulfillment in my needs, leaving my wallet to the side.
Getting a Handle on Unmet Needs
I will likely have more to say on this topic in the future, but I want to share a few places to start if you found yourself relating to several of the items I listed. First, check out resources from within your faith tradition that delineate what our spiritual needs might be. As I mentioned previously, I have a list I developed for Goddess Spirituality. Second, take time in your inner work to listen to yourself and to Deity to explore what your unmet needs might be. You can also seek the counsel of trusted spiritual companions. Lastly, if you are able to identify some needs, pace yourself in how you respond to them. For instance, if you find you’ve been neglecting your need for awe and wonder, you don’t necessarily need to sell your house and spend the next decade RVing in order to fulfill this desire. Start small through acts of self-care and moments of showing grace to others, building on your budding sense of fulfillment to continue to go deeper with the needs you may find you have.