Meet Your Emotional Needs
What do we mean by ‘emotional needs’?
The need to feel safe, to feel in control, to feel love, to feel purposeful, to feel valued, to feel stimulated, to feel capable – these are some of the emotional needs that, when met will help you to flourish in you life.
As part of our genetic make-up, we are born with an inbuilt drive to meet a set of physical and emotional needs. When the needs are well met, the brain triggers the release of chemicals that give you a feeling of satisfaction or contentment. If our lives have little or no ‘feel good factor’, we suffer and we also make ourselves vulnerable to emotional problems and addictive behaviours.
We all need to feel that our lives have meaning and value. If we consistently neglect our innate drive to meet our needs, it can result in a loss of motivation, a feeling that life lacks meaning and emotional distress. It’s an open doorway to depression, addiction or other emotional problems such as anxiety.
The false feeling of satisfaction that is experienced as a result of addiction to tobacco, alcohol, drugs or harmful behaviours is a poor substitute for a life that feels good and works well.
When you meet your fundamental emotional needs it helps to soothe the mind and body, creating fertile ground for inspiration, passion and an expansive fulfilling life. When important needs are not met, people can fall prey to emotional distress.
How do I know if I am meeting my emotional needs?
The easiest way to tell if you are meeting your own needs, is to become aware of how you are feeling. You don’t need me to tell you that the sensation of thirst is an indication that your body requires hydration, or eating food can satisfy a hunger. You already know that hunger and thirst are signals from yourself that you need to take action to meet a certain need. If ignored, the discomfort will increase to such a level that it will dominate your attention until you are compelled to act.
Just as you will experience a physical discomfort if your physical needs are not met, neglecting emotional or psychological needs will result in emotional or psychological discomfort. A person who is isolated from others will likely experience loneliness, a lack of creativity and stimulation will result in boredom, a lack of control or autonomy brings a sense of helplessness or anxiety as things become less predictable. A lack of direction, having goals and aspirations can result in feeling lost or stuck – purposeless. Any neglected need will make itself known by sending you an uncomfortable feeling. That feeling is designed to make you take action to meet the need and create satisfaction.
One of the problems of our ‘can have it all instantly’ culture that has grown so vast in the last 100 years, is that we have learned to expect to not have to work at feeling content. Marketing tells us evey minute of every day that you can be content now ‘just by having this’. All you have to do is to be able to afford it. Fast-track to bliss can be yours, if only you have the right clothes, the right drug, the right car – enough money. Western consumer culture has traded our emotional needs for a lottery ticket.
What are my emotional needs?
When you consider what your basic needs might be, there will be some that are obvious and some that are less so. There are some needs that we cannot ignore. Basic survival relies on immediate physical needs: breath, hydration, nourishment, shelter, sleep, warmth and movement.
Beyond meeting these needs, we require safe territory, a secure environment, and a reasonable amount of predictability in the way things are. As tribal creatures, we have the social needs of intimacy, friendship and community, providing opportunities to make a contribution and to feel that we belong. We need to give and receive attention. Connection, feelings of love and care and community are vital to the core of our being. For most people, when this need is neglected anxiety and depression are the company they keep. Human beings have a need for emotional feedback and recognition.
We often overlook the importance of being mindful of the connection between mind and body. Everybody knows that it is important to get the right nutrition and good exercise but not everybody has made the simple link between nutrition and feelings. The more we choose denatured foods and toxic ingredients, the less likely that the body and mind will feel good. Think about it. Your feelings of well being are generated within your physical body by the chemical signals being passed from one cell to another. If you want your body to make the chemistry of contentment, joy, bliss then it stands to reason that you must give it the right raw materials to do the job.
So, with some important basics in place we need to feel as though we are growing and thriving and moving towards something. Just like when you plant a seed, you prepare the soil and spread on some wonderfully nutritious organic fertiliser and then plant the seed. The best bit is to watch the seed poke its little green head out of the soil, full of expectancy and possibilities. You tend it with care so that it can flourish. The interesting thing about this growing process is that the seed doesn’t need to know what it will become, it just wants to grow and expand and feel the joy of itself.
A sense of personal growth and well being rely on proving yourself with creativity and stimulation. Seek out activities where you can experiment with creativity. Do things that stimulate thought and ideas. Sometimes you might feel as though you don’t know what to do. If that’s the case it’s usually because you won’t do anything unless you are certain you would like it, or be good at it. If you make those two things unimportant you can try things that you don’t know if you would like or don’t know you would be good at. You might get a surprise… or you might cross it off the list.
All these things help to move you toward another vitally important emotional need – a sense of purpose, a feeling that you have value and can see the meaning in your life. This is mostly achieved by directing your attention outward – what can I do for others? What can I do for that person, that organisation? How can I make a contribution?What are your values? What do you stand for? How could you allow your values to direct your desire for purpose?
There is an emotional need to set and achieve goals. There needs to be a sense of ‘this is where I am going, this is what I want to achieve. Without meeting this need, we become aimless.
All of the above will contribute greatly to some other fundamentally important emotional needs – a sense of autonomy, being in control of your life, self-esteem, confidence and personal value. When your emotional needs are being well met, you will fel contented, joyful and happy. You don’t need to be wealthy to have these things.
I don’t know where to start
A good psychotherapist will not only help you to identify your missing needs but will encourage and support you in your efforts to set appropriate goals. The use of Hypnotherapy and Emotional Fredom Technique can help to remove the blocks that are standing in the way of you having a life that feels really good.*
We all need to feel that our lives have meaning. If we consistently neglect our innate needs, it can result in a loss of motivation, a feeling that life lacks meaning and emotional distress. An open doorway to depression, addiction or other emotional problems such as anxiety.