Human beings come into this world with a set of needs – these include both physical needs and emotional needs.
These needs evolved over millions of years and, whatever our cultural background, they are our common biological inheritance.
Nature also equipped us with a set of mental resources to help us meet our needs. These resources also underwent continuous refinement over the course of human evolution.
Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell have named this set of needs and the resources we have to meet those needs the ‘Human Givens Approach’.
Our Physical Needs
Most of us understand what our physical needs are – we need air to breathe, food, water, warmth, shelter and sufficient sleep. Without these things we quickly die.
However, we also all have emotional needs, and these are generally less well understood. Yet if we are to survive and thrive we need our emotional needs to be met as well as our physical needs. Just as we would not expect someone who is hungry, thirsty or cold to be happy, someone whose emotional needs are not being met will also struggle to be truly happy.
Our Emotional Needs
We are all programmed with emotional needs, which drive us to connect to the external world and to survive in it.
Our emotional needs are:
- Security & certainty – the need for comfort and safety in both our relationships and our physical environment
- Attention – to give and to receive
- A sense of autonomy & control
- Emotional intimacy – to know at least one person who accepts us totally for who we are
- Love and connection – we have a strong desire to experience meaningful connection with other human beings
- Feeling we contribute and are part of a wider community
- Privacy – opportunities to reflect and consolidate experience
- Significance – a sense of status
- A sense of competence and of achievement
- Growth – our desire to develop emotionally and intellectually as well as physically
- Meaning & purpose
People whose emotional needs are met in a balanced way do not suffer mental health problems. When these needs are not met we suffer considerable stress, which can manifest itself as anxiety, anger, frustration and even depression.
Our Innate Resources
To ensure our needs would be met we evolved mental resources over many millions of years. Our innate mental resources need to be channelled in the right way to help us successfully meet our needs.
These mental resources are:
- Emotions and instincts
- A conscious, rational mind that can check out our emotions, question, analyse and plan
- The ability to understand the world unconsciously through metaphorical pattern matching
- Imagination, which enables us to focus our attention away from our emotions, use language and problem solving more creatively and objectively
- An observing self – that part of us that can step back, be more objective and be aware of itself as a unique centre of awareness, apart from intellect, emotion and conditioning
- The ability to develop complex long term memory which enables us to learn
- The ability to build rapport, empathise and connect with others
It is only by meeting our physical and emotional needs that we can survive and develop as individuals and as a species.
The Human Givens Approach gives us insights to what we all need to live satisfying, happy and fulfilled lives, bringing clarity to the much used phrase ‘wellbeing’ (defined by the Government as a positive physical, social and mental state.)
The Emotional Needs Audit
The Emotional Needs Audit is a diagnostic questionnaire developed by the Human Givens Institute. Answering the questions shows where potential problems in your life might lie. The Emotional Needs Audit has been independently validated and shown to be a reliable instrument for measuring wellbeing, quality of life and emotional state. It allows us insight into causes of stress and dissatisfaction in our lives.
Take the Emotional-Needs-Audit
If you rated any areas low when taking your Emotional Needs Audit you will now have a much clearer indication as to why you may be experiencing difficulties in your life, and it may well help you to see if you can do something about this particular area of your life.
Understanding what we all need to live healthy and fulfilling lives is the essential first step in improving matters.
To find out more visit the Human Givens Institute.