External love or finding it within?

A while ago I did a poll on my Instagram, out of curiousity what people believe about this topic. My question was: do you believe that we need to find the fulfillment of our needs within, or that resourcing externally is the way to go? About 60 percent voted the first option, and the rest voted the second option. There was one person that said ‘both’ – and that’s what I believe, too. I even believe there is no separation between the two. That means that it doesn’t matter whether we fulfill our needs internally or externally. I’m going to explain why and how in this article.

First off, what does it even mean to ‘resource externally’ or to ‘find it within’? I will use the following meanings:

Resourcing externally means things like: asking someone to fullfill a need by being specific about what you need, going to a place where that need will automatically be fulfilled, or taking any action to apply to a source of value outside of you with the intention of it giving something to you.

Finding it within can mean: meditating and connecting to your heart, saying positive affirmations to ourselves or generating vibrations from scratch.

Both statements can mean different things to different people, depending on their vibration. I’m going to cover all of that below. But first, something about teachings. They will eventually become obsolete. A teaching that works for a long time, will suddenly start to feel limiting. So while reading this article, see where your current vibration fits in, and which perspective feels the most freeing. That’s the thing that resonates. We are all at different parts of our journeys. Take that, and leave the rest. Unless, of course, you’re interested in understanding the whole discussion and the integration that I’ve found!

Resourcing externally from a state of co-dependence

When we grew up being constantly invalidated in our emotions, needs and boundaries, we develop co-dependence. Instead of being affirmed and mirrored in who we are, our self-concept develops into ‘shame’. This means: everything about me is bad. And not even just that, but also: I don’t exist. Because the invalidation is a gaslight. This means: ‘what I felt, I was told I didn’t have any reason to feel’. Or ‘what I saw, I was told I didn’t see’. Together, the shame, invalidation and gaslighting create a pattern where we need to resource externally. After all, there is nothing inside but a subconscious feeling that we ‘shouldn’t be like that’. We don’t even know like what, exactly, because we have no sense of self.

In our adult life, we are still looking for the missing experience of being mirrored. We want to find out who we are. And in order to do that, we need to rebuild our self-concept into a reflection of who we are. And what better reflection than other people? So we start resourcing them. We start connecting to other people. If they have an opinion, we take it in as if it’s our own. We haven’t yet learnt how to discern based on our own preferences. But that doesn’t mean that we should just ‘find everything within’ instead. Because there is nothing there, in our perception. We feel like there’s nothing inside of us when we’re alone. We don’t know what we feel, who we are, where we want to go…

Connecting to others supplies us with valuable resources. The vaccuum of co-dependence gets filled with other people’s thoughts, emotions, preferences, opinions, needs etc. We need to take in, take in, take in… This is what gets us out of the vaccuum. It is the very first step out of co-dependence.

And at some point we will run into circumstances with other people that are unhealthy to us. We will figure out that other people’s preferences and plans for us do not align with our highest good, because our body will tell us. Our emotions will tell us. Our friends will tell us. And at some point, our suffering becomes great enough that we start to listen. Then we start to want to develop independence. This is where ‘finding it within’ starts to sound really good!

What does ‘finding it within’ mean?

First, an explanation. In the spiritual or new age field there is this common advice that we should find our fulfillment within. And not only fulfillment, but every possible need that we can have, emotionally. So that means: finding love within, finding joy within, finding peace within, finding validation within, finding recognition within, finding significance within, finding approval within, finding attention within etc.

And to NOT find all those things externally. So posting on social media because of ‘wanting attention’ is bad – instead we need to find this within. Wanting a relationship out of a lack of love is bad – we need to find this love within. Going on retreats is unnecessary – we can just as well find the peace within. Traveling to foreign countries to see the miracles of culture and nature is redundant – we can find the miracles within. Wanting fame is immature – we need to find our inner sense of significance and purpose rather than needing others to validate us. Etcetera.

To need something externally from this perspective is perceived as being ‘dependent’ and ‘powerless’. And in general, as bad taste and a sign of being emotionally immature. It is seen as a sign of spiritual maturation to find all of those needs within. To self-source. To stop focussing on the approval of others, but to find self-worth. To stop focussing on external fame, but to find a sense of purpose and significance within. This is then perceived as a very spiritually enlightened perspective. Sometimes it’s called ‘ascetic’.

I’m not here to tell you that this perspective is wrong. In fact, it is very empowering!

If you come from a habit of externalizing your power, to ‘find it within’ is way more empowered.

If you come from a habit of being powerlessly dependent of other people, the thought that you don’t need to ‘beg for scraps’ anymore, takes back your power solidly into your own hands.

There are two patterns (could be more) that make ‘finding it within’ feel really good and like the truth. And from those two patterns ‘finding it within’ serves a beautiful purpose.

Pattern 1: healing codependence

Coming from co-dependence (which we all have in some ways to some extent), to reorient our energy to our own center and find ourselves within is Re-vo-lu-tio-nary.

And it’s not our own fault that we’re co-dependent. In childhood we needed others to survive, so we adapt with everything that it takes. This is the birth of co-dependence: a lack of mirroring and instead a lot of gaslighting in childhood makes us loose touch with who we are and enmesh with other people, to keep the connection that we needed to survive. As adults, we then externalize this into our relationships: subconsciously we think ‘maybe through the mirroring of the other person I will finally find out who I am’. But instead we make ourselves dependent upon them, and please them, by agreeing to everything they do or say. This is a reflection of the powerless position we were in as children. We coped with this behaviour to survive. Now, it doesn’t serve us anymore.

Finally, we stumble upon the truth that we can find it all within. And that we can stop externalizing our power like that. That we, in fact, have a direct connection to Source. And that makes us able to self-source.

Independence becomes our one-way ticket to the freedom and the self-empowerment we never experienced! Turning our gaze inward, for the very first time of our lives, is the best decision we have ever made.

Pattern 2: avoidant attachment

Alternatively, this perspective of ‘needing to find it within’ can be born out of avoidant attachment. An attachment style like this originates in childhood and then informs all of our adult relationships too. With avoidant attachment it goes as follows.

In childhood we needed to become islands to deal with the emotional neglect we experienced. Or we needed to become islands to deal with the authorative parents we had. To shut off completely from letting in energy from other people. Because they couldn’t be trusted, either through outward boundary violations (neglect) or incoming boundary violations. Our highly intelligent system then conjures up a way to cope with this distressing, ongoing situation: by becoming an island upon itself. Finding everything within. Self-sourcing to the max. The external world didn’t do it, so we needed to learn self-reliance.

Turning to Source in spirituality is a logical extension of this pattern. When our parents were so absent or authoritarian that we couldn’t resource anything from them that we needed, we are then subconsciously looking for a better caregiver: Source. Finding it all within by connecting to Source is the way out of this painful experience of relating.

This coping mechanism works incredibly well – until there comes a point we notice that it screws with our relationships. We will experience a lack of relationships, or an inability to open up in relationships, or a lot of pain when other people want to depend on us. We feel suffocated. We might want to even tell them to ‘find it within’ themselves!

After all, this has given us a sense of empowerment. Our experience with external resourcing has only ever been disastrous. It’s very understandable that it seems like a bad idea for others too – and if they’re in the same vibration that we’re in, we would be right. However, we usually don’t attract that, we attract the seeming opposite: anxiously attached people that want to depend on us for everything. For them to heal, they first need to find the external fulfillment before being able to move into autonomy. They have developmental trauma from a very young age (baby) where the desire for autonomy hasn’t even emerged. Because there wasn’t safe attachment in this age, as adults they still need to ‘tick that box’ in order for their nervous system to rewire into wanting autonomy and independent exploration.

If we want to heal this pattern of avoidant attachment, we have a choice to make:

  1. Do we need this sense of independent power for a longer amount of time? Do we need to expand on it, and strenghten the sense of safety that it gives us? Then this option is to NOT engage in relationships. This will build the safety in our nervous system that we need, for as long as we need it. The choice to do so is incredibly liberating. There is nothing wrong with it. It’s a way better option than the horror show that engaging in relationships but not committing will eventually turn into! So committing to the safety in our self-sourcing, and the empowerment that this brings, is the genuine answer.
  2. Do we want to connect really bad? Then we need to find safe people, that respect our boundaries. We need to find ways of feeling, communicating and establishing our needs and boundaries in relationships. That starts with even becoming aware of them! This is a whole process when we were neglected or violently shamed out of our needs and boundaries. They have been deeply suppressed. Any awareness of our needs is welcome here, now. Get really specific! Then we need tolerable steps of becoming more intimate, gradually retraining our nervous system so that instead of perceiving ‘danger’ in closeness, we will perceive ‘safety’ in closeness.

Moving on

As mentioned before, at some point, any teaching becomes obsolete and we need to move on. Our personal growth and expansion takes us in a further direction. In the second option above, you can see a scenario where someone starts resourcing their needs externally too. This is fueled by a genuine need and value of connection.

However, in the first pattern, the co-dependent style of relating is not viable anymore. Moving from co-dependence to independence is the expansion in that situation. Or moving from neglect/abuse to independence is the expansion in that situation.

When I moved from co-dependence into independence, this was very liberating. I found out who I was through trying various reflections from other people. I tried on different identities. I pursued different directions in life. Some fitted and others didn’t. I took it all in and gradually built my sense of self. I started making choices that were entirely my own. But at some point, this wasn’t enough anymore. The lack of connection started to bug me.

Whatever way the value of independence started, even this self-sourcing pattern will eventually lead us to a realization that we need other people too, to fulfill our needs. Because the more we connect to ourselves, the more we connect to Source, the more we realize that we are all one. That’s one part of it, and it may seem a bit philosophical. But where it really hits, is with the following: we also start retreiving more parts of ourselves by connecting to our Source so much. And those parts of us can be very lonely.

The birth of interdependence

Our independence becomes a prison. We want to deeply engage with other people again. This has to be a genuine need and choice! Only then will we move from independence to interdependence.

Interdependence is the concept that we fulfill both of our needs by choosing to rely on each other completely. It is a natural symbiosis. It is an empowered state for all parties involved. It is fulfilling and at the same time, it sets us free. It empowers our individuality and our autonomy. It feels safe for all parties. Everyone’s best interests are taken into account.

A truly interdependent state carries the complete acknowledgment of the other. And takes it as part of its own. If all parties do this, there is interdependence. From a state of interdependence, we will never choose people that wouldn’t share this value too. After all, we know our boundaries and needs now. We know how to discern between our own values and the values of other people. Our choice to engage in an interdependent relationship doesn’t ‘just happen’. It happens through a mutual choice and commitment.

Ultimately, from this perspective, it doesn’t matter if a need is fulfilled internally or externally, because there is no separation anymore.

Resourcing both internally and externally

The people that hold the value of ‘finding it within’ as the way to go in life, have an important point. This point is: we cannot rely on other people to fill us with an energy that we don’t hold ourselves. According to the law of attraction, this lack vibration will only attract lack in our relationships too. It just doesn’t work. We may all have experienced this in our life. An example:

Going on a datingsite when you feel utterly worthless, ugly and as if you will forever be alone, will likely not yield any satisfying results. Even if you find someone to date, they will reflect your feelings of worthlessness, ugliness and loneliness back to you by not appreciating you as you are.

But this doesn’t mean that resourcing externally always comes from lack. People that hold the value of ‘finding it within’ with the Law of Attraction argument are overlooking one thing. And that is the difference between making a reactive, subconscious choice versus a conscious choice.

If we start resourcing externally with no awareness of what we need, we will likely encounter less than ideal experiences. This is because we are vibrating in lack. Lack of love, lack of self-worth, lack of abundance etc. We will reactively act out these emotions by unconsciously resourcing the opposite. This reactivity to an internal experience is in fact a resistance to it. It’s a ‘trying to get away’ from it. And this will only make the existing vibration persist. What we resist, persists.

The power of awareness

Everything changes however, when we become aware of the need. Then, suddenly we have the ability to make a conscious choice.

This choice is to either condemn or embrace the need.

This choice is to become more aware of the specificalities of the need.

This choice is to have compassion for the need and our own history of not getting the need met.

This choice is to heal the underlying trauma.

This choice is to reach out or not.

This choice is to reach out with respect or with a demanding attitude.

And there are plenty more choices. But by the nature of the acknowledgement of the need, we are bringing the vibration of awareness into the situation.

This means, that at least we will attract an experience where we will gain more awareness, because our starting point was the vibration of ‘awareness’. So we might still bump our head and have incompatible connections and triggering situations going on, but we are able to be present enough with ourselves to refine our needs and desires more. It will be a more positive experience. Maybe it will take time to unlearn unhelpful patterns. Maybe there are bad break-ups and fights and escalations still. But we won’t be so powerless about them anymore. We will be able to learn from it and do better next time. Our self-trust and our self-love grows.

Self-love attracts more love

If we make the choice to love ourselves when we discover a need, we have hit the jackpot. 

This means: not condemning the need we find in ourselves. Instead, we choose to be present with it and validate it.

The process goes something like this:

We have the experience in our lives, time and time again, that we are being ignored. No one is listening to us, we are being talked over, and if we start expressing and get interrupted, no one is getting back to us by asking us to elaborate. What we share and create goes unnoticed. And this hurts like hell. 

So, finally we figure out we need attention.

Did you feel how you judged that? Don’t worry, it’s not just you: the need for attention gets judged pretty harshly in our society!

It’s a perfectly natural human need to want attention in a social species where we are depending on each other biologically. If we don’t have attention, we don’t have the space to express our innate value, and that means that others can’t depend on us. That means, that our contribution to the tribe or the collective goes to waste. In a social species, this is a terrible idea. Our piece of the puzzle will be missing and therefore weaken the whole social framework. ‘Needing attention’ therefore contributes to the continuation of our species. It’s also very important for our own survival that we get attention, so we will be cared for when we need it. That’s why it’s built into our biology.

But you don’t even need to understand the very valid biology behind all of our emotional needs (and it’s there!). Just the fact that you need it should be enough to elicit a response of self-love. Meaning: that you acknowledge and take the need as part of you, committing to fulfilling it.

Acknowledging the need IS finding it within

This is the self-love that we then find within. Funny enough, the self-love of acknowledging a need for external attention doesn’t just magically make the need for attention disappear. This is different with every need. Sometimes we need something that we can only find within – like self-love. But most emotional needs in fact require some part of an external resource in order to fulfill it.

If we want our external resourcing to work, we need to realize one thing.

This is, that we need to take our needs seriously. We need to be present with them first without being reactive immediately, we need to ,understand that they are valid and we need to take them as part of ourselves. This puts us in the vibration of love. And then we will attract that love externally too or we will attract ideas to resource externally.

Some really persistent voices might say now: ‘But if we already are in the vibration of love, why would we then also need to externally resource?’

Because not every need goes away by loving it. Now it gets our utmost attention and it can start asking to be fulfilled even louder. Not fulfilling it is in fact retraumatizing. Yep. We can choose not to love our need, we can choose not to fulfill or resource the fulfillment of our need… but then we will hurt ourselves. We choose separation, and this is the oppositive of love.

If we love our need for attention, we will now lovingly appreciate just how much we need it. We will give ourselves attention by taking this need seriously. But maybe then it doesn’t go away yet. Acting upon this need by starting to resource it externally, is acting from a space of self-love.

We have found the self-love within. And now we will find the love externally, too. We will get those likes on Instagram. We will get the adoring stares from potential partners. We will command the attention of a group when speaking, just by virtue of our energy and how confident we hold ourselves because of this bold inclusion of our need for attention.

It’s both. In the end, it’s both. And paradoxically, at this point it’s no longer a need, but still it will be fulfilling.

We will find it within first, and then externally too. The further we go in our healing journey, the more of our trauma and our true needs surface to be lovingly included in our awareness, the less separation there will be between the internal and the external. At some points, this separation might just fall away completely. And we will live in true unity consciousness. Fully rooted in our biology.

Fully rooted in the ownership of the emotional needs, that we all have been programmed to ridicule, deny and suppress.

Let’s stop the need-shaming. Lets own and love our needs as if they’re little children.

Let’s find it internally and externally.

Fully rooted in the unified field of love.