What is the thing you most want right now that you do not have?
That, my friend, is probably your greatest vulnerability.
The more desperation you have for what you want, the more likely other people will exploit that emptiness in your life to fulfill their own desires. It’s kind of like a predator targeting the very young, old, or injured members of a herd. It happens in nature, and it happens among people, too. And it happens a lot more often than you think.
Your “needs” may be real, but more often than not they are a matter of perception. Needs can be manufactured, in a sense. Consider the advertising industry; how many consumer products do you see flogged on TV and the internet today that are truly things that life itself depends upon? Not many, if any at all. Yet advertisers create a “need” for any number of products by selling an image, an ideal, by telling you you’re missing out on something or that you are not quite good enough until you buy.
If you’re old enough to remember Y2K, a very lucrative “millenium preparedness” industry was born by creating, then capitalizing, on people’s fears that computers would malfunction and pandemonium would ensue once the year 2000 rolled around. Not much happened, but boy, did the money roll in!
Some believe that “Big Pharma” and “Big Agra” and other huge lobby groups are in on the “creation of need” game. They claim that Big Agra, for example, has pressured the US and Canadian governments into formulating their national food guides such that agricultural products, particularly grains and grain products, make up the bulk of the recommended diet guidelines – thus ensuring continued support for their industries and products. Further, medical and nutritional professionals are taught according to these guidelines under the auspices that this is the “healthiest” human diet, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Here, again, is creation of need – follow the money, I’ve heard it said, many times by my favorite blogger, Tom Naughton. For Big Pharma’s contribution to this picture, do a little research into who are the biggest corporate supporters of the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation… A little common sense (and digging) will tell you that the bulk of research into cardiovascular disease treatment is into pharmaceutical interventions, not prevention through proper diet and exercise and other natural approaches. You can be vulnerable because of your health, and there are companies with a vested interest in ensuring you have a need for ongoing medication.
So, what about the “nature abhors a vacuum” reference in terms of relationships? That which you do not have, or do not have enough of, or have been brainwashed into thinking you need, makes you more likely to be taken advantage of with regards to that “hole” in your life. Like a vacuum, a low-pressure area which will try to equalize itself by, fairly indiscriminately, drawing in the matter around it (air, liquid, etc.), a person with unmet needs will consciously or unconsciously try to get those needs filled. Sometimes the degree of need places that person at even greater risk. Someone who has been unemployed for an extended period may be more likely to be taken advantage of by sham employment “agencies”. A person living in extreme poverty may be more likely to resort to crime or prostitution in order to provide for his or her family. A lonely elderly person may be more likely to be targeted by a scammer who poses as a grandchild asking for money. A child who hasn’t been taught personal boundaries may be more likely to be sexually abused. That which you long for, your greatest need, may be your fatal flaw.
Having said that, needs are part of life. We all need, every minute of every day. We need to breathe, we need to eat, and we need to love and be loved. But we also need to be conscious of what we perceive as our needs, and learn to discern between that which is good and will add to our lives, and that with a potential cost that far outweighs the benefits.
So how do we keep ourselves safe despite our needs?
In my opinion, the greatest thing we can do for ourselves is learn and enforce boundaries. Boundaries define who we are, what we value, and what we are willing to tolerate. People with weak or non-existent boundaries are the most vulnerable people when needs present themselves. Boundaries are the gatekeepers to the “vacuum” of need, guiding our actions so we fulfill our needs in healthy ways, and help us know the difference between friend and foe. Boundaries aren’t a total guarantee that we won’t be exploited, as some people think nothing of lying and deceiving others. But being clear about your boundaries does go a long way towards keeping you safe.