Discover what makes something a need and how to know if yours are met.
A need can be defined as a “physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). In other words, a need is something that you won’t be okay without. This can range from food and water to human contact and socialization.
Our needs can also differ depending on the situation. In general, we have needs such as food because without it we can die. However, communication can also be a need since, without it, relationships can deteriorate.
Basic needs, or primary needs, are the most essential. These include:
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 2012). Through this, he suggested that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to more advanced ones.
He was a humanist and believed that people have an ultimate desire to reach self-actualization, or in other words to be all they can be. However, to achieve this, the lower-level needs were required to be fulfilled first.
There are five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that increase in complexity:
These include needs such as food, water, and clothing. These are also referred to as basic or primary needs.
We need to feel safe and secure in our environment. This can include financial well-being and health security.
This includes the need to be loved and to love. Belonging to a group of both friends and family is important to our psyche. Social needs are psychological needs.
This is the need to be recognized by others for our accomplishments. Esteem needs are also considered to be psychological needs.
This is the need to actualize our talents and skills. This includes obtaining the full use and exploitation of our talents, capabilities, and potentialities. People who achieve self-actualization are said to be fulfilling themselves and doing the best that they are capable of.
According to this model, we can only obtain higher-level needs once we satisfy the lower level needs. For example, we can only begin to meet our needs for safety once we have secured our physiological needs.
One method to analyze these questions is through a needs assessment. Here is a brief rundown on how to do one (Royse et al., 2009).
Identify the Possibilities
This first step is about discovering all the possible personal needs you may have. Write down things in your life that bring you joy and make you feel successful or unsuccessful, and then identify the related experiences. Then with this, try to identify the patterns of behavior that created these experiences.
Refine and Shorten Your List
Now that you have a list, let’s narrow it down to include only your most important personal needs. Identify the top ten experiences that appear most often then consider which of these include actual needs (again, your must-haves, requirements, essentials). Then from that list, select the top four personal needs that are most important to you from those experiences.
Create and Execute a Plan
From the previous steps you now have at least four personal needs. Make a list of activities/actions that will help you meet these needs, including the things you do every day as well as other extracurricular activities. For instance, if a personal need for you is to learn a new skill you may want to plan to go to a cooking class. Or perhaps if your personal need is creativity, you may take steps to start writing a new book or invest in painting. Whatever your need is, it could help to take initiative to plan and execute ways to fulfill that need.
Tips for Meeting Your Needs
After identifying your needs, it may help to try and meet them to feel fulfilled. If you ignore your needs, it can become detrimental to your physical and mental health.
Here are some tips to help meet your needs:
Needs are a natural and essential part of life. What is important is being able to differentiate between what we want and what we need and then being able to prioritize our needs.
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Pamela (Pami) Parker currently serves as a holistic practitioner, coach and teacher. Her intention is to be a compassionate guide to those who choose to experience a healthier, happier and more peaceful way of life.