We ALL have needs. In effect, we are born into a sea of needs, and meeting them is crucial. When we do, it can lead to our greatest fulfillment. And when we don’t, it can be the source of some of our biggest conflicts and disappointments.
So it is useful to know what our needs actually are. Beyond the obvious physical needs, there are fundamental psychological needs that drive us. For example:
Security / Protection
Physical nurturance: air, water, food, exercise, shelter, touch
|Purpose / meaning
Satisfaction / achievement
Growth and development;
knowledge, learning, guidance, feedback
Honesty – that which empowers us to learn and grow – neutrally given
|Solitude – own space
To sort own thoughts
Authenticity to self
Choosing plans for fulfilling these
|Variety & change
Mental or creative stimulation
Reassurance and support
Harmony with others
Play, fun, laughter
Celebration of dreams fulfilled, loved ones, or loss (mourning)
We have stronger needs in some areas than others, however most of us need a touch of each of these. It’s useful for us to tune into our needs so that we can understand ourselves, and to keep them in proportion.
If our need to feel special and important constantly outweighs our need for equality and harmony, we may need to figure out why. If our need to belong is so great that we sacrifice all other needs, we may also need to re-assess.
While it is our own responsibility to meet these needs, we can request help from each other to meet our needs. Relationships are a rich bounty of this kind of assistance, but expectations of others can create dependency and entitlement.
So how do we go about meeting our needs?
Check in. These are some feelings you might have when your needs are being met:
Connected to life or to others
Glad, joyful, happy
Loved and love
Stimulated (mentally, creatively, physically etc)
These are some feelings you might have when your needs are not being met:
Numb or indifferent
It’s useful to be in-tune as often as you can. If you are feeling unfulfilled or out of sorts, check into exactly what you are feeling or needing. Then you can consciously decide on the best plan.
This might involve:
- Doing something directly for your self. Eating, exercising, tidying, relaxing etc
- Prioritizing your needs if they are in conflict: i.e. your need for freedom may outweigh your need to instantly own a large amount of cash
- Talking to someone to clarify what you need and what to do about it
- Requesting support. Non Violent Communication offers a clear framework for making requests in a way that is respectful to our selves and others.
We might say:
When I see/hear/imagine…… (make an observation as neutrally as possible)
I feel……..because I need/value…….
Would you be willing to…….?
5. Offering support
We might say:
When x happens, or when you see/hear…….
Do you feel….. because you need…..? (we can try to guess another’s needs, but never assume – always check)
What do you feel? What do you need?
Would you like…….?
6. Gratitude for the happiness of fulfillment. Enjoy
These ideas are directly sourced from Marshall Rosenberg’s Non Violent Communication publications and website.
For more information see: