Powerful Questions Podcast: What are your needs that are not being met?
Updated: Nov 29, 2020
You can of course just ask yourself this question right now, but where it will bring you the most insights is if you are distressed or feeling any kind of negative emotion. When you out-of-the-blue feel sad, angry, irritated, disappointed, frustrated – there is a good chance that your needs are not being met.
So asking yourself this question can help you understand what is really going on with you, to understand what is really behind your emotion.
The needs not being met can be physical, emotional, intellectual. Probably the most famous overview of the human needs was created by Abraham Maslow – he defined several “levels” of needs starting with basic ones, such as food, shelter, safety. Next level are psychological needs, such as love, belongingness and esteem. The last level are self-actualization needs. According to Maslow, human needs need to be met in that order – so before you as a person develop the need for self-actualization, you have to have your physical needs met, you have to be safe and feel belonging, you have to feel esteemed.
Of course this overview includes groups of needs, and when you consider yourself personally you would want to get as specific as possible. If you struggle to put a finger on what exactly it is that is missing, don’t hesitate to google lists of needs until you nail down what it is that is lacking in your life.
It begins to become very interesting when you start to notice some tendencies, for example if you get angry with the same stupid thing all the time. Then you start discovering what is the need that is very important to you personally and you really learn more about yourself.
I’ll give you an example form my own life. What makes me absolutely desperate is bureaucracy in any form. If I struggle with something bureaucratic and it does not work out for a long time it can drive me to tears. It took me some time to realize why it is a problem for me. I have a very strong need to have influence over my own life and also a very strong belief that I, indeed, have impact over what I achieve and how I live. Bureaucracy, however, is not easily influenced. There are fixed rules, they are not very transparent and each time I have to deal with formalities I have the feeling that I cannot really influence what is going on. And this awakes a very strong emotional response.
Think about it yourself: are there similar situations where you often get angry, frustrated or sad? What are the commonalities between those? For me personally other needs that are really important are fairness, need to be seen as competent.
After you have discovered what are your needs that are not being met, you can think about what it is you can do about it. What is important to remember, is that all your needs, even the ones you would expect to be fulfilled by other people, are your responsibility. All your needs are your responsibility.
What I mean by that is that you cannot expect other people to magically know what your needs are – you have to communicate your needs. You also have to consider whether you are fulfilling the needs of the other person, do they have a reason to reciprocate? You also need to be aware of your own needs and be the first one who cares about them and fulfills them. If you don’t care about your needs, why should anyone else?
Your needs are your responsibility.