Why feeling wanted is the best motivator – and how to use it

It’s lovely to feel wanted. But our desire to be appreciated goes beyond just feeling nice – it’s a basic human need we share, and one that is vital to our emotional health and wellbeing.

But what do you do when that desire isn’t being fulfilled? When you suffer a rejection in your work or personal life? How do you pick yourself up and ensure it doesn’t happen again – or even better, use your need to be wanted to motivate you to achieve greater success? Coach Lucy Barkas has the answer.

Everyone wants to feel wanted

I recently coached an ambitious, talented and vibrant twenty-something who was scared to move forward in case she was rejected. “What if nobody wants me?” is a question we have all asked ourselves at one time or another, and it’s a reasonable one to ask. 

But it got me thinking. How ingrained is our need to be wanted? Is it a good thing, or can it, like my client, hold us back? And if so, how can we move past it and actually turn it into a positive motivator?

The truth is that everyone likes to feel wanted and needed. This isn’t us boosting our own ego or indulging in our over-inflated importance – it’s a need and desire is right at the core of who we are.

Each and every one of us is unique. We have a genetic makeup, a belief system, a value system, a whole box of talents and skills which, when all of them are put together, makes us different to every other human being out there. And when you find someone – whether that is a partner, friend, or organisation – that wants you or needs you for you, then you can feel like you’re flying high.

But what happens when you don’t find someone who appreciates you for your unique qualities? Or worse, who actively rejects you?

We’ve all been rejected at some point

There’s probably been some point in your life that you’ve felt undervalued, unappreciated and unwanted. Maybe you were passed over for promotion, missed out on a contract, or felt unappreciated by your partner. Or perhaps a friend suddenly dropped you for no reason, or a freelance client stopped using you.

We’ve all experienced rejection of some form or another at some point. And you’ll know just how horrible it feels. It’s easy to feel lonely, down, unseen and unconnected, and you may even start to question why you even thought anybody would want you in the first place.

Feelings of being unwanted and unneeded can rock your confidence and self-belief – after all, our desire to be wanted and valued (and our need to fulfill that desire) is central to our emotional health and wellbeing.

How do you cope with rejection?

If you’re suffering from feelings or being rejected or unwanted right now, stop being so hard on yourself.

You may have been passed over for promotion because the company just wanted a different set of skills. Maybe your partner is going through a tough time themselves and doesn’t have any emotional energy left over for your relationship. Or your freelance client may have stopped calling because their own work has dried up.

There are lots of reasons why people may make us feel unwanted – and often they don’t actually have anything to do with you personally. It doesn’t mean that you are bad, wrong or undesirable.

So instead of blaming yourself, feeling inadequate and trying to change to fit someone else’s wants, make peace with the situation. If there are ways you can learn from what has happened then use the experience positively. Otherwise, try to accept what has happened and move forward. And if you can, use what feels now like a negative experience to spur you into greater success.

How to use your need to be wanted as a great motivator

Once you accept that you have a basic human need to feel wanted, you can translate that desire into positive action. And the first thing you need to do is to understand what you have that is wanted or needed by others.

So start with a blank piece of paper, and write down:

  • All the things that you love, and are passionate about.
  • What you have knowledge of.
  • Your skills and talents.

You may find this exercise harder than you think, because often we overlook the many skills we have simply because we find them so easy. And because we find them easy, we assume they’re insignificant. But they’re not.

So think beyond the ‘big skills’ that you may list on a CV and consider the traits you have that other people appreciate. Maybe you’re an extrovert who can talk to anyone at a party, or you have great instincts and are the perfect matchmaker. Perhaps you can recall the lyrics to song, or always get the sports questions right in trivial pursuit.

Next ask other people. Find out what they think makes you unique, from both a being and a doing perspective. What are your personality and internal strengths? And your physical skills? Ask a variety of people – friends, family and colleagues, since all of them will know you in a slightly different way.

Start embodying your unique skills

So now you have a whole list of skills, strengths and behaviours that make you unique. The next action is to start embodying them.

That means believing that you are unique, and stepping into it with confidence. Be proud and want to be that person. This action is all about you wanting to be YOU! After all, if you don’t want to be you, how is anyone else going to want you?

Work out where your uniqueness is needed

Finally, start identifying where your uniqueness is going to be needed and wanted. For example, you may have found that one of your strengths is energy, positivity and enthusiasm. So you need to go looking for opportunities that have that vibe or need.

Or you may have found that you are studious, analytical and logical. So consider what industries, careers or business opportunities need those skills.

Once you know what makes you unique, and are confident in what you have to offer, then you will naturally attract like-minded people. You’ll also find yourself drawn to places, organisations and situations where you are needed, desired and wanted. Your confidence will be sky high and you will finally find your inner motivation.

You can find out more about Lucy’s coaching on her website.