Why I No Longer Ignore My Needs
I ask this question every day: “Am I meeting my needs without taking into consideration what someone else wanted for me?”
Growing up, I never learned to work with my emotions. Instead, I was bombarded with a crystal clear message; Block and avoid my emotions.
Statements like; "Take it like a grown-up, "suck it up," Get a grip, man," "You are acting like a girl," or "Mind over matter" were my mantra for many years.
I quickly became a master at avoiding my emotions and those of others.
There are countless ways to avoid emotions, such as work, alcohol, sex, shopping, prescription drugs, and screen time, the list goes on, but for me, it was comfort foods.
Behind all my behavior and actions, there are deep-seated needs, and it is these needs function as the driver and motivation behind everything I engage in, in life.
As a life coach, I help people identify their needs and values, and reach their goals.
I am just as amazed every time I sit down with someone for the first time, behind any particular behavior I always find unidentified needs.
Why Are Needs So Important?
I have witnessed a steady increase in mental health problems, particularly anxiety, amongst young adults for the past three years.
The data indicates that one in five 16–24-year-olds experiences mental ill-health; girls are not only leading the mental illness race, but they are also sadly winning it.
I see how most of the young adults I teach and coach every day are attempting to "do it all" — studying, working after school, going to the gym 5x a week, and navigating the uncertainties of life.
I see how these young adults day after day ignore their needs — both physical and emotional — most often, they are pushed to the bottom of the list, if not entirely — until they crash.
I recognize so much of the same suffering that I created for myself for so many years, and it breaks my heart.
I see how young adults ignore essential needs; just like I did so many years ago, I see history repeat itself, but this time I have a joker up my sleeve, and I know how to play the game.
“The basic human needs are limited, few, and categorizable. They are shared by all cultures and all historical periods. The change, both over time and between cultures, is in the ways or means by which needs are satisfied.”
I went from broken to flourishing and experiencing a good life because I learned to identify my needs and then seek Empowerment to meet them.
All expansion of self has started with me identifying my needs and will continue to like that until the day I die.
My needs are the starting point for all my actions, not the ending.
It is by understanding the origin of my needs, that everything starts to make sense.
The realization of my needs is one of the essential pillars for living a balanced life.
In the social sciences, a lot of work has been done to identify fundamental basic human needs.
My role models and inspiration include Abraham Maslow, Clayton Alderfer, Manfred Max-Neef, Frederick Herzberg, Edward L. Deci, Richard Ryan, John Burton, and many others.
Standing on the shoulders of these giants, I became a great believer that basic human needs are the key to all success in life for all of us, regardless of race or gender.
By understanding my needs and those of others, I can become the best version of myself.
Meeting my needs has been the love of my life; it is the only pathway for me to influence people successfully.
If I desire to influence and empower any person or group, understanding and meeting their basic human needs is the only place to start.
To my amazement, I found out that when I start to meet people's basic needs, they will follow me wherever I take them.
The doorway to influence is meeting human needs, not policing, judging, or micromanagement.
Understanding and meeting my own basic human needs have developed a sense of meaning and purpose in my life.
Getting to know my needs and those of others has blessed me with the enormous benefits of living a rich and meaningful life.
What are basic needs?
Edward L. Deci and Richard Ryan first pioneered the theory of self-determination, which argues that three basic psychological needs motivate the self to engage in behaviors that function as vital components for psychological health and well-being.
These three fundamental psychological needs are competence, autonomy, and relationships and are universal, inherent, and psychological for all human beings.
In his top-rated book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink popularized mastery, autonomy, and purpose as the very things that motivate us, drawing on Self-Determination Theory.
“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”
― Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
It has become evident that human needs play a huge role both in my private and professional life.
Over the years, I have broken down the work of these masters into seven basic human needs and created a list to capture them that I share with my students the first time I meet them.
My approach to achieving success in life is to learn to meet these needs effectively in myself and other people around me.
The seven needs are:
1. Survival and Security: Survival includes food, water, air, respiration, excretion, reproduction, warmth, shelter, rest, sleep, homeostasis, etc.
Security needs are related to safety, protection, work, resources, property, health care, structure, order, security, control, self-care, leisure, entertainment, etc.
2. Understanding and personal growth understanding is a vast human need to be understood by others and understand others and the world around me. In other words, to attain knowledge, to understand, and to develop competence.
Personal growth for me is to live my life following my beliefs and motives and not as a byproduct of manipulative or distorting outside forces.
When I am free to learn, grow, and fulfill my potential.
When I am free to observe, analyze, and experiment and help others succeed.
3. Connecting (love) and acceptance, Connection is the need for friendships, expressing and receiving love.
I have these needs, but maybe I meet them differently than you do.
I prefer one-to-one relationships and find group interaction less satisfying.
My need for Connection, love, belonging, acceptance, identity, nurturing, and connectedness is very high, and I feel sad when I don't honor these needs.
For me, the acceptance and approval from my partner and close relationships are essential, while I couldn't care less about the acceptance and approval of others.
4. Creation and contribution refer to my ability to do something successfully or efficiently and contribute to the world.
I have a solid need to create proactively, contribute, care for, and serve others and society, to leave things in better shape than I initially found them.
When I didn't respect my need for Creation and contribution, I didn't bring anything to the table and failed to add value to those around me and make an impact.
5. Appreciation, identity, and worthiness need to know that I am appreciated just by being human, not because I have done something special or have some extraordinary skills or properties.
My sense of identity is closely linked to meaning.
I seek out relationships were I am considered an important and valuable person.
My sense of identity has a significant influence on my understanding of worthiness.
My Social identity and self-identity (personal identity) are essential to my sense of significance.
6. Autonomy, choice, fairness, independence in my thoughts and actions, and freedom to choose.
Freedom is the need to be in a position to practice independence in my thoughts and actions, the freedom to choose in all aspects of my life, most importantly, to do it without any negative constraints.
Fairness is the need for a fair or equal distribution of resources among all the members, whether within a family, community, or society; this is essential as it creates the conditions for people to meet their needs.
7. Self-actualization and self-transformation refer to personal development and growth or expansion of self, which come in many forms, physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually, which is not a small task to undertake.
Growing up, I coexisted with two stressed-out, emotionally unavailable parents.
The lack of emotional contact, love, and belonging; made me increasingly prone to loneliness, social anxiety, stress.
I quickly learned to numb my feeling with food, and I gained a lot of weight, which made matters worse.
Looking back, I see many of my personality traits were linked to unfulfilled needs, an that was the reason that kept me stocked for years.
My lack of fulfillment in different needs went on for years and years, creating unnecessary suffering that manifested as inferiority complex, weakness, helplessness, hopelessness.
I unconsciously held myself hostage by my low self-esteem, self-created stressful life events, little friends, dysfunctional romantic relationships, and other interpersonal relationships problems.
Meaningful work addresses most of the seven needs and is the most appropriate way to satisfy these needs because I spend most of my life working.
Things I remind myself of:
-Needs are systems, not hierarchical.
-They are interconnected.
-They are universal.
-People in every culture and throughout history have had them. They are just satisfied differently.
-Needs are not intended to be exclusive.
Specific needs will be more critical than others, and I will not always make sense of others' choices in life and sometimes even my own.
Growing up, I spent time with an abusive parent because he fulfilled my need for belonging.
My most essential needs will decide which path I take, and you will see me take action trying to meet them.
The question I ask myself every day:
Am I meeting my needs without taking into consideration what someone else wanted for me?
Building a solid relationship with myself has been the best way to find what was there all along.
Understanding my human needs and meeting them in myself and others has literarily saved my life, and I hope it can improve yours.