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  • Susan Le De'an

Are Your Needs Being Met?

How do you know if your needs are being met? Do you even know what your needs are? When it comes to physiological needs, we are all knowledgeable about basic needs- food, water, shelter, etc., but when it comes to emotional needs, are you aware of what is essential? I have found that most people are oblivious to these needs. They find themselves confused and wonder why everything feels like such a struggle. Sometimes, we need to take time to reflect on the question, does my lifestyle meet my emotional needs? An emotional need is a state or condition that must be fulfilled in order for us to experience happiness and peace. When our emotional needs are met and responded to appropriately, they keep us in balance and are essential to a healthy lifestyle. When you are happy and cannot identify ways to improve your life, then it is a pretty safe bet that you are getting your needs met. I have had clients ask me, “Well, how many people feel terrific about their lives?” What a great question! There are lots of people that are unhappy, but most unhappy people have a sense of what could be different to help them meet their needs. Some people choose counseling so a therapist can help explore interventions to improve well-being, identify goals, and create a plan to put into action. These people make a decision to move forward instead of giving up, withdrawing from life, or sinking into compulsive behavior patterns. They are looking for hope and a different way. These individuals recognize that their compulsive behavior patterns have become unhealthy coping mechanisms that attempt to fill their emotional emptiness. To overcome these patterns, they seek healthier coping strategies and skills. Our first task is to figure out what those unmet needs are.

There are numerous theories in psychology. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is presented to most psychology students. Abraham Maslow developed his theory in 1943, to describe the most basic human needs. His hierarchy shows a progression, shaped like a pyramid. The primary needs are at the bottom and the most complex needs are at the top. Food and water can be found at the base, while self-actualization is found at its apex. From this understanding, research has expanded to identify 5 emotional needs. Now I will share these needs with you so you can understand if your needs are being met.

Control- we all have a need to have a sense of control over our life. We strive to drive our own lives and live autonomously. There are some things that we truly cannot control like accidents, lay offs and the death of a loved one. However, there are always options and choices that allow us some control.

Power- we all need to feel like we have influence over others. Identify people that leave you feeling powerless and practice assertive communication with them so you can set clear boundaries.

Intimacy- we are social creatures, made to connect with others and experience close relationships. When we experience emotional intimacy, we feel truly accepted and understood by others. If you are feeling lonely or disconnected, look for opportunities to share your hopes, dreams, and desires with someone you want to be closer to.

Adequacy- we all have a need to feel competent and confident in some areas of life. This is closely associated with self-esteem, which has historically been a struggle for humans. Can you identify your strengths? Recognizing your value personally is the beginning of meeting this need.

Recognition, acknowledgement and importance- when interacting with others we are always seeking validation, which allows us to feel a sense of belonging and being valued. From my experience, if I frequently acknowledge the efforts or accomplishments of others, it benefits both of us in the relationship.

Being attentive to our emotional needs is necessary for humans to function wholly. It allows us to coexist peacefully with others. When our lives are blocked by our inability to have these needs met, we suffer considerable distress. That is why it’s so important to recognize which emotional needs aren’t being met, and to take action to meet them.

By: Susan Le De'an

LPC, LCAC

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