Those needs or conditions that need to be fulfilled for an individual to feel fulfilled, happy, or at ease are emotional needs. When these needs are not fulfilled, one might feel dissatisfied, hurt, or frustrated. While every human being has these needs in common, the strength of each need to be fulfilled is different for different individuals. Individuals who have these emotional needs fulfilled have a healthy behavior following the fulfillment, and similarly, individuals might show unhealthy or socially unacceptable behaviors if these needs are not met.
Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist who gave us the hierarchy of needs, states that emotional needs are primary physical needs. In his theory of need hierarchy, he talks about how needs at the lower level should be met and then only can the upper order needs be fulfilled. For an individual on his journey towards achieving his fullest potential or becoming a self-actualized person, their basic needs should be fulfilled first. After one’s physiological needs, that is, food and water, and their safety needs, that is, having a shelter and source of employment, one moves towards fulfilling their emotional needs or the need of love and belongingness.
Basic Emotional Needs
There certain emotional needs that are basic to every human being, and its satiation is important. The basic emotional needs are :
If we always live on alert mode, looking for undue dangers in our surroundings, we can never live peacefully. Hence one of the very first emotional needs that need to be met is security. We should have physical as well as emotional security. Physical security meaning an environment where we know that we are safe and secure and do not have to worry about being physically hurt or damaged. Emotional security means having a sense of belongingness; basically, it means to love and be loved.
Having a safe place can help an individual to develop to their fullest potential. If you feel that this emotional need is not being met, try to make a list of factors that give you a sense of fear in that particular surrounding and then think of actions you can take to change or remove those factors.
Privacy is one of the emotional needs that should be met because it leads to the individual’s well-being. An individual should have enough time and space to themselves or privacy as we say so that they can reflect on their experiences and learn something from it. Individuals who are introverts, highly sensitive to overstimulation, and empaths need a little more privacy than others because they value their ‘me time’ and need it necessarily.
If you feel that you had no privacy on any day, you can meditate, try journaling or have some self-care or self-pampering time, and in this time, you can enjoy yourself and use the time to reflect upon your day.
Attention is yet again one of those emotional needs that are basic for survival. Giving attention to our near and dear ones and receiving the same from them makes one feel valued and cared about. It is important to give attention to others, and an individual must give enough attention to self because one can cater to their needs only if they pay attention to it.
Giving attention to others can be in the form of checking up on them every once in a while or do something that leaves them feeling loved, and when someone does the same for you, you should appreciate and acknowledge their efforts. If you feel that this emotional need of yours is not being met, try to spend some time with yourself first and then schedule an outing to meet with your near and dear ones.
4. Community Connection
Among the list of emotional needs, this means that one should have a sense of connection with the community they live in and a feeling to do something above self and work towards a greater cause, to something good. Humans are social beings, and they need to have a sense of connection to something greater than themselves.
Having a sense of connection with your community can also lead to developing a sense of goodwill and kindness. If you feel you lack this connection with your community, you can develop it by doing some philanthropic work like donating to charity or volunteering work. One can always connect with the community by helping the underprivileged using the resources and time they have.
5. Sense of Achievement
This is one of the emotional needs without which life will feel aimless. To feel worthy or to maintain self-esteem, one should feel that they are working towards something of value, and completion of it is an achievement. We as humans have the ability to analyze, criticize, imagine and create. When we fail to achieve our set goal or target, we start to criticize ourselves and feel worthless at the extreme.
A consequence of this situation would be a loss of motivation and a feeling of frustration. On such days where you lack this sense, you should write down every achievement of yours, everything you’ve accomplished to date, and maybe look at the degrees, certificates, and medals you own to remind yourself what you are capable of.
6. Sense of Self
In the list of emotional needs, this one holds importance too. A sense of self means having our own perspective, thoughts, values, and judgments. It basically means to retain our individuality amongst a group of people. One should feel that they belong to a group or a community, but they should always stand firm on their values within that group.
Just for the sake of pleasing someone, one should never change their opinion or should agree to something that is against their belief because, in the long term, it is our values and believes that will stay with us. When you feel that this need is not being met, you should do something that sets you apart.
Volition means that an individual has the power to decide the way he or she lives. We humans live with a power struggle, and if one does not have the power to decide the direction of their life, it might disturb one’s mental health.
We strive to exist autonomously and to drive our own lives. This need should be met for you to feel fulfilled. If you feel this need is not being fulfilled, you should try to have assertiveness while conversing with friends, family, or coworkers who make you powerless and try to establish clear and healthy boundaries.
An individual should have a core set of beliefs that guides his or her life throughout. The sense of achieving things might feel in vain if one doesn’t have a greater purpose. All individuals should have a sense that they belong to something greater, something that is above them.
We should have a coherent set of beliefs about what life is all about. To put in very simple words, you should have the answer to “what’s my purpose in life” or “why am I here.” If you question your existence, then start practicing mindfulness. The simplest you can do at that point is focus on your breath and think that everything happens for a reason, and if you’re breathing, it is for a reason.
These emotional needs are very important, but if given more attention than needed, they can be harmful. It might so happen because if one starts to focus too much on fulfilling their emotional needs, they might become self-obsessed or might develop narcissistic tendencies. Narcissistic tendencies include having an exaggerated sense of self, having a sense of entitlement, thinking that they are superior to the rest, having a feeling of envy for others, or even requiring constant admiration for self. It also might so happen that these emotional needs become similar to maintenance addiction, upon whose withdrawal discomfort might be caused and no stimulation of the brain’s reward center when gratified.
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