Human beings are social animals. Relationships play an important role in meeting our most basic emotional needs. We learn in early childhood how to get our emotional needs met; some of these techniques are effective and some aren’t so effective. The following are some ways in which we can get more of our needs met in the relationships that matter most to us, allowing us to thrive:
- First, we must realize that one or more of our needs aren’t being met. In the most important relationships, we often learn what our needs are by how we respond emotionally. Our emotions contain really important data. I often tell my clients, when we get angry, anger is informing us that a need isn’t getting met or a boundary has been crossed. The purpose of our emotions is not to instruct us, but to inform us. Rather than telling us we must yell at our partner, punish our children, or quit our job, anger shows us what we should do: communicate our needs.
- Second, after we realize that a need isn’t getting met we have to identify what that need is. It’s important to be able to identify what is a need, what isn’t a need, and what is a simple desire. Here is a list of universal needs that we will explore in session: safety, security, affection, touch, nurturing, choice, freedom, autonomy, growth, trust, self-expression, peace, spontaneity, acceptance, respect, purpose, meaning, and so many more.
- Third, after identifying the unmet need, we explore how to frame a request for the need to be met. In the course of therapy, one of the skills developed is how to ask someone we love to meet our needs. It’s important to take ownership over our needs and be mindful that we don’t portray the unmet need as a criticism of the other person.
It would be a pleasure to work with you in therapy if you would like to explore this topic more. In relationships, we all have needs that should be met. Human relationships are complicated and I’d like to help you better understand your relationships and how to have more of your needs met.