Nurturing is one of four emotional dependency needs that should be fulfilled when we are growing up. (The other three emotional dependency needs are emotional intimacy; unconditional love & acceptance; and boundary protection.) The degree to which these dependency needs are met largely determines our emotional maturity as adults. It also influences how healthy and balanced our lives are. Think of these developmental needs like the need to learn not to climb on the back of the couch or not to run out into the street to retrieve a ball without looking both ways first. Those are developmental needs which help keep us physically safe. Emotional dependency needs help us feel emotionally safe and secure.
What is nurturing? Synonyms for nurturing include: cultivating, caring for, promoting, fostering, encouraging, cherishing, developing and supporting. The opposite of nurturing is neglect. Why is it important to a child’s development to be promoted, encouraged and supported? It creates a sense of value within the child. It creates self-esteem. Without encouragement and support, a child feels unsure and alone which equates to feeling unsafe and insecure. If we feel unsafe and insecure growing up, we will rely on ego defenses to protect ourselves rather than our own strong sense of self. This is where defensive personalities and doormats are born. They are opposite ends of the same spectrum.
If your emotional need of nurturing was not fully met when you were a child, you will need to shore this up in order to truly feel safe and secure with who you are and your place in the world. You will need to take time to give yourself what you didn’t receive when you were younger. These are needs, not wants. If they were missed in childhood, some part of you is underdeveloped (a.k.a. immature). The good news is that you can give yourself what you needed, but never received.
Nurturing means doing what is necessary to care for, promote and encourage yourself. Again, it’s the opposite of neglect. In order to assess the degree to which you were/are nurtured, take a look at these questions…
If the nurturing behaviors listed above were not modeled for you when you were growing up, you’ll need to learn how to provide this support for yourself. With practice, these nurturing activities will help you to feel more in harmony with yourself. You will ultimately feel more balanced, safe and secure in your life. Next week, we’ll look at the third emotional dependency need: Unconditional Love & Acceptance.
This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC. We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives. For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.
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