Do you know the difference between your needs and wants? Often we confuse what we require and what we desire to make us happy. A need is defined as “something that a person must have, something that is needed to live, or succeed, or be happy.” A need is something essential and significant to live a healthy and satisfying life. Needs are different from wants.
A want, on the other hand, is defined as a desire or a wish for something. A want is something we might like to have rather than a requirement for healthy living. For example, I might want a job that pays me a lot of money, but money may have minimal impact on the emotional and psychological needs I am searching for related to security and a sense of self.
Often the differences between our needs and our want block us from happiness.
What are our emotional needs?
Emotional needs are feelings or conditions we need to feel happy, fulfilled, or at peace. Without them, we may feel frustrated, hurt, or dissatisfied. Some examples of emotional needs might include feeling appreciated, feeling accomplished, feeling safe, or feeling part of a community. As humans, we seek emotional nourishment as much as food and water. It is your birthright to be emotionally nourished.
Everyone has their own unique set of emotional needs, which might be the product of upbringing, genetic predisposition, identity, and other individual factors. But for the most basic human emotional needs, many people refer to Maslow's hierarchy of needs that identifies nine specific emotional needs common to all people across cultures.
Why knowing your emotional needs is important.
Knowing your own emotional needs can help you better tackle life's problems. If you're dealing with a condition such as depression, anxiety, or addiction, at the most basic level, it's because one of your fundamental needs is not being met. (This is, of course, excluding biochemistry and genetic predisposition.)
So, solving most of our life's problems starts with identifying which of your needs are not being met. For instance, if someone is depressed after losing their job, it may be because they have lost status, autonomy, and possible connection to others. These are vital emotional needs, which no amount of "talking it out" will restore. Meeting these needs is the most effective route back to good mental health.
Understanding our emotional needs empowers us to make ourselves happy and can relieve a sense of helplessness. We can look at the imbalances in our jobs, relationships, and environments from a unique perspective. Instead of thinking there is something "wrong" with us, we can ask, "What emotional needs are not being met?"
Once you meet these needs in balance, you realize you have more power in your own life with you and that the journey to meeting these needs and helping others to achieve theirs in your relationships, occupations, and communities can itself be very fulfilling.
The nine basic emotional needs, how to identify them and meet them.
Security. We need a safe place—an environment that enables us to lead our lives without experiencing undue fear, and that allows us to develop our potential.
Choice. To feel fulfilled, we need to feel like we have the power of choice. We need to think that we exist autonomously and have the ability to direct our own lives.
Attention. Receiving attention from people we care about, and giving them attention in return is valuable. Giving recognition to your self is equally, if not more, valuable. Self-care is just as crucial as self-love.
Emotional connection. To be emotionally fulfilled, we need to feel connected to other people. We need to experience friendship, love, and intimacy.
Connection to community. We are social creatures, and our brain is a social organ. We need to feel connected to something greater than ourselves.
Privacy. Mental and emotional well-being requires that we have time and space enough to reflect on and learn from our experiences.
A sense of self. It's not enough to have a group. We need to have a sense of our value within the group dynamics we're part of.
A sense of achievement. To maintain our self-esteem, we need to have a feeling that we are accomplishing things of value.
Meaning. In the same vein as feeling that we're accomplishing things of value, we all need to have the sense that we're part of something greater than ourselves, having a coherent set of beliefs about life and what it's all for.
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