Everyday life is far from utopia. Losses, unmet longings, and disappointments alter the original intent of life. Messy happens randomly and vicariously to the innocent and not so innocent, alike, as we all journey through this life. I believe we were created to be fully alive and fully connected to our soul, one another, and spiritually.
The deep wounds in our subconscious come to life, we behave and live based on faulty thinking. The heart responds with either anger and anxiety or apathy and coldness. In a nutshell, a wounded human being will respond with either rage or indifference. Either reaction brings destruction in relationships, careers, and personal fulfillment.
Self-awareness is the key to enhancing your personal and professional fulfillment through choice and change. It is about becoming powerful and finding your unique voice that makes goals and dreams a reality. In this blog series, I’ve been exploring how knowing yourself can be the vehicle to change. Last month, I delved into the rich content of exploring your values and how your values help you make decisions. With self-awareness and knowing your values you can align your decisions most closely to what is right for you and what you value. This month I want to talk about how knowing your emotional needs can enhance your energy and bring you more peace.
Emotional needs are the psychological needs that drive behavior. When not met, they produce stress and drain your energy. Researchers, such as Maslow, identified common behaviors driven by our emotional and psychological needs; The need for affection, self-esteem, belonging, purpose, self-actualization, power and control all fall into this category. They are your common motivators behind the decisions and actions you take. Understanding the needs which are the strongest in you, allows you to best manage yourself and your relationships.
For example, let’s say you have a strong need for belonging – you may find yourself avoiding conflict and never voicing your opinion, thus you can stay in the familiar place of belonging. This need may produce happiness and satisfaction. However, if belonging is too important and the environment is toxic, the emotional need for belonging can lead to lack of fulfillment, anxiety and depression.
Because we all have a need to be loved and, despite our best efforts, we feel our hurts deeply. This flawed world will wound us. The effects might differ, but we as humans are all joined in this aspect of life—longing begets more longing. If needs and longings are unmet in childhood, children learn to separate from the wounding by disengaging from their emotions, others, or both. This pattern of emotional disengagement continues into adulthood. We may deaden or disown our desires through addiction, settling, or living out others’ dreams, and we miss the opportunity to live fully.
It might be an unhealthy pattern in relationships, poor self-esteem, lousy self-care, or poor decision making that unmasks our faulty thinking. This is our ‘pain point’ – the moment we realize the pain of living this faulty false life is costlier than our fear of change.
The desire to move away from this destructive pain is the greatest catalyst for change. So how do we get there?
The How-To for knowing your emotional needs and then being in control of them is practicing self-reflections. Spend a few minutes at the end of the day reviewing your emotions and your actions.
My personal self-reflection has brought clarity and understanding about my needs. Below are the questions I ask myself daily:
- When did I feel tuned in, present, and on purpose today?
- When did I feel I wasn’t tuned in, present and on purpose?
- What was my general mood today?
- Was I surprised by any of my emotions or responses?
- Which ones? What did I feel?
- Can I connect the dots between my responses and an emotional need that is being met, or unmet?
- If unmet, how can I get that emotional need met in a healthier manner? Write down a few ideas.
Taking a few minutes at the end of a busy day may be difficult, but with intentionality, these few minutes become vital to changing unwanted behaviors that detour us from an aware and fulfilling life.