What comes to mind when you think about your needs? Some people find even the word ‘need’ uncomfortable, as it makes them feel weak or inadequate. For many of us, needs mean something practical: economic, health-related or just what we need to survive. Some of our needs are concrete and specific, and don’t have any emotional aspects to them. So, how much do we know about our vital needs? To what extent do we take them into account?
We are born creatures in need of care. From our very first breath to our very last, we have both physical and social needs. Our development is deeply impacted by whether and how well our physiological needs are met by our physical environment as a newborn. For example, not getting good care, getting more than necessary or getting the wrong needs met at the wrong time can cause us physical discomfort. Similarly, we also have psychological needs that need to be met starting from our first day of life. The social structure that surrounds us as newborns has a huge impact on our future psychology. Just as we cannot survive unless our physical needs are met, our spiritual existence cannot survive or develop in a healthy way if our psychological needs remain unanswered.
So what is a ‘need’? Human needs have been a question mark and subject of research for many years. From a developmental point of view, our primary spiritual need is to be understood. From the day we are born, we need a caring environment that can understand our fears, pain, and hunger, and then respond to them. Only then can we grow up and feel sufficient in ourselves, talented and strong. Seeing that we are unique and special in the eyes of our caregivers contributes to the formation of a strong self. At the end of all these processes, we begin to experience the concept of togetherness. We establish relationships, community, sisterhood and friendship. As much as we want to be understood, we also want to be able to understand the people around us and recognise what’s going through their minds. Because being able to relate to others and socialize is also a basic need.
By nature, we have both physical and psychological needs. Of course, when we are adults, these needs are not as obvious as those of a baby or a child, but they still lie deep within us. So, our quality of life is affected by the extent to which these needs are accepted and met throughout our lives. At the end of our development, if our needs have been met to a sufficient extent, we learn to identify and meet these needs by ourselves. Anger, which is a feeling that we all know very well, is usually the result of unsatisfied needs. Unanswered questions and unsatisfied expectations can create anger in us. Therefore, as important as it is for those around us to recognise our needs, it is equally important that we are able to recognise our own needs. It’s up to us to be in touch with our needs, to access resources for them, to express them to those around us when necessary, and to be able to ask for what we need.
Being in touch with our needs makes us more sensitive and compassionate towards ourselves. That’s why it is important to get to know yourself better and to take a deep breath in difficult times. In the meantime, you can ask yourself: why am I experiencing this difficulty, why does this sensation emerge in me, what is the need behind it? Which needs lead me to choose behaviors that I like or that are not good for me?
In fact, we can easily see the connection between our basic needs and the motivation behind our daily actions. There are forces that push us to desire a certain life, and a form of searching. Behind these lie our needs, like the need to feel healthy, be comfortable in the situations we are in, accept ourselves as an individual with value, set boundaries, protect our private space, adjust our distance to those around us, and also stay socially connected.
So, to what extent can we access these needs consciously? First of all, we need to allow ourselves to identify our thoughts and emotions. In this safe and compassionate space we give to ourselves, it becomes possible to name and make sense of the emerging sensations, and thoughts in our mind. As a result, we can see that the signals in our minds that appear as a certain way of thinking or emotion are sent by various needs, and we can begin to discover the place of these needs in our lives.
When we recognise our needs, we can more easily make choices that will lead to more positive experiences in our lives. We can be more constructive both towards ourselves and to those around us when solving problems and making decisions. For example, when we don’t get a text that we expect from someone, we start to get angry at that person and feel upset. Sometimes we blame ourselves for things and feel inadequate. Instead, it is normal to feel the need to take a pause and retreat to our ‘special place’. When we stay in touch with our needs, it becomes possible to both cool down our intense emotions and not allow them to lead us to sudden actions or destructive behavior. This ultimately results in a more sincere feeling of satisfaction.
From time to time, clearing our minds away from the crowds, listening to our emotions, and taking a break from the flow of life gives us a chance to be in touch with our inner world. Sometimes we get lost in the needs of those closest to us. At times like this, we can feel tired and neglected. However, as long as we take care of our needs in our relationships, it becomes easier for us to understand the people around us and express ourselves to them. In this way, we learn to maintain a certain distance to protect ourselves as well as to hold onto our relationships more tightly. Our relationships will be more satisfying both for us and for the people around us only when we bear in mind our own needs and bring them into the relationship.
Remember, putting things into words is the first step towards transformation.