Our body, emotions and mind all have needs of one sort or another.
The need for food, water, and air. For comfort and security. For love, intimacy, and companionship. For a making sense of the world. These needs are often closely intertwined. Safety, for example, is physical, emotional and mental. If we don’t think we’re safe, we won’t feel safe and the body will stay in a guarded state and respond accordingly. One the flip side, if we’re repeatedly threatened, we may feel physically unsafe, and thus emotionally and mentally.
And yet, some people feel inherently safe, even on a battlefield. And another may feel unsafe even in a high security compound. So the degree and combination of each varies widely by person.
The Five Love Languages illustrates this variation in another way. What we individually perceive as “loving acts” varies by person. One person may see gift-giving as a symbol of love, another as an attempt to be bought. Another will most value touch or words of appreciation. How we naturally express love may not match the recipients expectations and thus not meet their needs.
What we may not recognize is that many of our needs can be met with inner resources. The one who feels inherently safe, for example – that comes from within. But sometimes, we don’t connect with those resources and are not given living examples when we’re growing up. We learn to seek fulfillment outside of ourselves and the advertising world encourages this. As a result, we have to consciously turn that around and find our inner resources. The more alien this is for us, the more learning there is.
The first step is being able to recognize our needs in the first place. Some are obvious, like if we try to hold our breath too long. Others can be quite a bit more subtle at first. But if we’re unable to recognize our needs, we increase the sense of vague loss and lack of fulfillment. Things like pleasure and satisfaction can become elusive because they come from met needs.
What makes this especially challenging is we’ve often learned to tune things out. Many are trained to repress some emotions to avoid pain. Or their anxiety level is so high, it mutes them out. We may ignore our body signals. Or our mind is so busy, the quiet proddings are unheard.
We may find that one area of life is pretty well met but another is more repressed. Thus, our satisfaction remains incomplete and fleeting. Unmet needs can gradually become more prominent, even if they’re not clear. And with that, we are more likely to seek expression in less healthy ways. Acting out, reactivity, excess foods or shopping or activity.
The solution is also not a one-size-fits-all. The love language example above is a simple example. If behaviour shows up in other ways, it may not meet our needs at all. And when a relationship is needs-driven like this, how close are we to Love? This points us back to finding resources within. If we have not opened our heart and discovered love within, what love resources do we actually have to give?
I’ve also spoken here before about bliss, a yardstick for inner happiness and satisfaction. How would life be if we had an inner well-spring of happiness with us at all times? And we do, under the noise of mind and emotions. Really. Our very life itself is bliss.
Because of the variation in needs emphasis and the larger variety of resistance and fog, the first step can often be a more general healing. One excellent resource is an effortless meditation. This not only connects you better to your self and your own resources, it also helps heal the energetic noise and anxiety that clouds things up.
As we become more clear, we can begin to recognize our needs and then find more conscious and healthy ways of meeting them. Sometimes, though, we’ll have a lifetime of repressing certain aspects. Perhaps emotions were seen as unsafe as a child. Or we were born empathic and adapted in clumsy ways. The deeper stuff can be more smoothly cleared with some new skills and direct healing.
Some may see needs awareness as a clumsy and questionable exercise. But we’re talking quality of life and your happiness. When our needs are met, we feel happy and satisfied. When we can meet many of those needs from within, life becomes richer than most people can even imagine. There of course will still be the usual vagaries of life. But if we’re centred within, they will wash past on their way elsewhere.