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Meeting our Needs in the Modern World

Apart from the obvious human survival needs of air, water, food, sleep, shelter and clothing,we also have basic living needs that must be met in order for us to function and feel well. There are many ideas and theories about our basic or primal needs, and today I wanted to explore some of the more widely accepted ones. It is surprising how many of us aren’t meeting these needs in our everyday pressurised lives, most of us are bathing in stress and living to achieve the end of an endless to-do list.

Check in with yourself and ask yourself these nine simple questions – are each of the following needs being met in your life? We all need, to varying degrees, to:

  1. give and receive attention
  2. experience a mind/body connection
  3. have a sense of purpose and goals which give meaning to our lives
  4. feel connected to and part of a wider community, and make a contribution to that
  5. have a sense of some control and influence over at least some of the events in my life
  6. generally, feel safe and secure day to day
  7. have an ability to feel intimate/connected to at least one other human being
  8. have a sense of status, to be recognisable and appreciated for our role in life
  9. experience challenge and creativity

If these basic living needs are overlooked, then there is always a danger that we will attempt to have them met by other means, in an unconscious effort to fill the gaps that these unmet needs leave; often this will lead to a depletion of other needs, the direction generally being a negative one.

An example might be someone who is not getting their need to give and receive attention met might start to behave in negative ways that draw attention to themselves in order to meet that need. The trouble is because the behaviour appears to others as negative it gets them attention, but the wrong kind of attention, and they end up feeling unapproved of in life, which just depletes one of their other needs; the need -to have a sense of status, to be recognisable and appreciated for our role in life.

Another example might be someone who lives alone (this is especially true at the moment) and hasn’t socialised with anyone for a while, might start to become very withdrawn, and fear going out again, so their need to feel connected to and part of a wider community, and make a contribution to that will not be met, which in turn may cause them to feel isolated, alone and probably very anxious and then their need to generally, feel safe and secure day to day is also compromised.

Can you see the pattern – how one unmet need leads to further depletion, and the downward spiral effect. We obviously will have days when several of these needs aren’t met and that’s quite normal, but as an overall view of our lives we want to be able to say at least some of the time, most of these needs are positively met in one way or another, even if not all at the same time. So, if they aren’t being positively met already, then maybe putting something in the diary which ticks a box or two would be a positive step.

Written by Emma Williams, Wellbeing Mentor