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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisabeth Medlock

Since You Can't Always Get What You Want; Figure Out What You Need

Everyone has needs, but it’s the #unmet #needs that impede our progress; that lead to feelings of #anger, #sadness or #resentment. So how do we know what these

needs are and how do we get them met?

The Rolling Stones say you can’t always get what you want; you get what you need. But what if we are also not getting what we need? We ask ourselves--is this a want or a need? Do I need these shoes or just want them? Do I need to be popular? Do I need people to like everything I post on social media? And while we are worrying about these things, our core human needs go unmet. Everyone has needs, but when our needs are being met we don’t really think about them. It’s the unmet needs that impede our progress; that lead to feelings of anger, sadness or resentment. So how do we know what these needs are?

How do you know you have an unmet need? You feel frustrated, hurt, angry, disappointed, fearful, and sometimes, empty. It’s that deep feeling that something isn’t right. It’s that perceived over reaction to something that you thought should not matter. For example, you get angry or feel resentment when a co-worker gets attention for a project on which you also worked. Or you feel hurt and rejected when a good friend invites another friend to dinner and does not include you. Pay attention to when you experience negative emotions, what triggers them, and you are on the trail of an unmet need. Now you can try to name that need.

What are some of our core needs? According to Maslow and other researchers, needs generally fall into these main areas.

Needs for Security: Security needs are like having a safety net that allows us to live life without constant fear or threat. Examples are safety, protection, financial stability, order, routines or duties, clarity, and honesty.

Needs for Attention, Regard and Recognition: I often say that people just want to be really be seen and heard. As social beings, we need to receive attention from others we care about. We need some acknowledgement, and even praise.

Needs for Power and Influence: We need to have power over our own lives and feel that we are valued. We need to exist autonomously and direct our own lives. But we may also need authority, perfection, influence, and status or visibility.

Need for Privacy: We have a need to carve out the time and space to reflect on and learn from our experiences and mistakes. The need to hit a pause button, to take a break, so we can turn inward and think through or sort things out. Reelecting on and assimilating what we learn from experiences takes this kind of privacy.

Needs for Achievement or Attainment: We have a need to affect the world around us, to make some sort of an impact or to feel we are moving forward accomplishing our goals. Examples of these needs are to—create, achieve results, perform, be responsible, be busy or productive, and strive for.

Needs for Intimacy, Relationship, and Connection: These needs go beyond just attention or recognition. They are deeper needs for understanding and intimacy. These are needs of being loved, touched, helped, appreciated, connected, and included. As social and evolved beings, we need to feel connected to other people.

Need for Meaning: We need to have the sense that we're part of something greater than ourselves. That is why we ask ourselves, what is this all for? So we need to have a set of beliefs about life, people and the universe.

Often we are unaware that many negative emotions we feel and behaviors in which we engage are a result of unmet needs. So once you have determined the pattern to what triggers these and can name a need, move on to trying to get that need met.

Step 1: List your needs under each of the areas above.

Step 2: Decide which of these are your top 5 needs.

Step 3: List the ways you are meeting each of those 5 needs.

Step 4: For each of those 5 needs, assign a rating to it from 0 (need does not get met at all) to 10 (need gets fully met).

Step 5: For those needs you rated a 5 or below, Ask yourself: How can I get this need met easily and without effort in a straightforward and direct way? Then make a list of three ways you can meet each need more easily, without a high cost and in a more satisfying and healthy way during the next four weeks.

Checking on needs is an ongoing process, so continue to monitor if you needs are being met.

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