Emotional needs are feelings we need to feel happy, fulfilled or at peace. Without them, we may feel numb, empty, frustrated, hurt or dissatisfied. For human beings to feel safe, happy, significant and fulfilled, all the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs have to be met.
Some examples of emotional needs are feeling loved, accepted, approved, appreciated, attention, grateful, belong, validated, recognised or cared for. When these needs are met, then we can strive for the higher ones like autonomy, connection, privacy, a sense of Self, a sense of significance, achievement, fulfilment, meaning, service and purpose.
“Beneath every behavior there is a feeling. And beneath each feeling is a need. And when we meet that need, rather than focus on the behavior, we begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom.” ~Ashleigh Warner
The quality of our life is determined by the emotions we feel on a daily basis. Which emotions are you feeling mostly during the day? All our emotions have a purpose and they are not just random. In fact, they always communicating with us.
According to Maslow, if we are dealing with conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress or addiction, it is because our emotional needs are not being met. Meeting our needs is the most effective route to our overall wellbeing. So how can we meet our emotional needs?
Our Emotional needs are often unconscious, so we have to dig deeper to find out what they are. Very often, we think we need food and reach our for comfort food like chocolate, burger, pizza, donuts, ice cream when in fact, we are craving for comfort, soothing, compassion, love, to be accepted and cared for.
So next time, before you reach out for comfort food, alcohol, cigarettes, porn, drugs or other external distractions, ask yourself what is it that you need right now? How are you feeling? What do you need? And give that emotional need to yourself. Yes, you can give yourself love, compassion, comfort, being gentle with yourself, rest and practice self care.
Everyone has their own unique emotional needs but those who have not had their basic and emotional needs met as a child have a harder time to identify and meet their needs. Very often, they feel unworthy of having their needs met. They might feel afraid or even guilty or ashamed to meet their emotional and mental needs. During childhood, they might have been punished, laughed at, humiliated, ignored, yelled for asking for food, attention, love, etc. As a result, they get stuck in survival mode (basic physical needs) and never climb up the hierarchy as they don’t feel worthy or capable of meeting their emotional, mental and spiritual needs.
If you had childhood trauma like you had been abused, bullied, neglected by parents/carers, abandoned, rejected, humiliated constantly, compared to your siblings, did not receive the love and attention you craved for, then it is highly likely that your inner child is wounded and his/her emotional needs are not met. Meeting and healing your inner child is so important as it is the key to your personal development and growth.
When your inner child is wounded, you will continue to feel stuck, lacking, lost empty, unfulfilled, angry, fearful, not good enough, not worthy of love, sense that you don’t belong, overwhelmed, insecure, get triggered easily, have repeated patterns and generally struggle in life especially in your career, love life and finances. By meeting the needs of your inner child, you will start feeling at peace, fulfilled, happy, significant, abundant and loved.