What Are Our Human Needs

In order to fully address the question of “how do we express my needs lovingly”, it is necessary to take a step back and first provide us with a starting point: What do we need as human beings? I do this because many of us are not fully aware of these needs or have learnt, through life experience (both adulthood and childhood) to ignore, suppress, or deny them. Others of us may have been taught either directly or indirectly that we do not deserve to have our needs met, or that having needs makes us weak or vulnerable.

The reality is, we all have these needs, some of which we may experience more stridently than others, and being in touch with them is vital to creating a full and enriching life. Whether we are aware of it or not, needs drive action and motivate us toward doing the things that satisfy them. So, the better we are identifying them, the more likely we are to take wise and considered action that benefits us and the people in our worlds.

The following list has been divided into 3 overarching groups:

Sustenance/Health – abundance/thriving, exercise, food/nutrition, nourishment, rest/sleep, relaxation, shelter, sustainability, support/help, wellness, vitality, energy.

Safety/Security – comfort, confidence, emotional safety, familiarity, order, structure, predictability, protection, from harm, stability, trust, faith.

Beauty/Peace/Play – acceptance, appreciation, gratitude, awareness, balance, ease, equanimity, humour, presence, rejuvenation, simplicity, space, tranquillity, wholeness, wonder.

Love/Caring – affection/warmth, beauty closeness/touch, companionship, compassion, kindness, intimacy, mattering, importance, nurturing, sexual connection, respect, honouring, valuing/prizing.

Empathy/Understanding – awareness/clarity, acceptance, acknowledgement, communication, consideration, hearing (hear/be heard), knowing (know/be known), presence/listening, respect/equality, receptivity/openness, recognition, seeing (see/be seen), self-esteem, sensitivity.

Community/Belonging – cooperation, fellowship, generosity, inclusion, interdependence, harmony/peace, hospitality/welcoming, mutuality, reciprocity, partnership, relationship, support/solidarity, trust/dependability, transparency/openness.

Autonomy/Freedom – choice, clarity, congruence, consistency, continuity, dignity, freedom, independence, integrity, power, empowerment, self-responsibility.

Authenticity – adventure, aliveness, discovery, honesty, initiative, innovation, inspiration, joy, mystery, passion, spontaneity.

Meaning/Contribution – appreciation/gratitude, achievement, productivity, celebration/mourning, challenge, efficacy, effectiveness, excellence, growth, learning/clarity, mystery, participation, purpose/value, self-actualization, self-esteem, skill/mastery.

Whenever you are feeling dissatisfied, unhappy or discontented, take a look through the list and see what stands out for you. Becoming more adept at naming our needs helps us to express them to others with more ease, as well as ultimately assisting us to create the kind of lives we long for.