Many terms have been used to describe the essential or core needs we all have as humans. One that I particularly like is that of the human ‘givens’, referring to our fundamental physical and emotional needs, which if not met create disturbance within us.

We are designed in such a way that our emotions act as an internal guidance system to let us know when these needs are not being met. You’re probably familiar with that churning feeling in the pit of your stomach, or the sudden heart racing or breathlessness that occurs at times of stress or challenge, or maybe that ongoing low-level, lingering unease or anxiety.

In our usually busy lives, we have become accustomed to ignoring these alarm bells and dealing, as we have always dealt with, whatever the immediate issue or trigger is without much thought. We ignore multiple different situations and stressors, consciously or unconsciously, time and time again.

Then at some point, when our systems are overloaded and cracks appear in our physical, emotional or mental health, we are confused as to what’s happened and why. Most often, while the situations or people involved may vary, there is an underlying core need that is not being met or something that we value is being undermined or taken away from us.

So rather than waiting for the system ‘crash’, learn to tune into yourself more often, ideally in the moment, when you get that physical or emotional response, or if you miss that moment (it takes practice), take a minute afterwards to observe what was really going on for you. Maybe next time you will be better prepared and choose a different response that better serves you.

The reality is that, unlike a computer or electrical gadget with flashing red lights, you can’t be replaced, so preventing problems or at least taking remedial action, is critical.

A lot of people I meet are ‘stuck’ in some sort of loop of confusion, stagnancy, frustration, friction or fear. The emotions are doing the job of telling them something isn’t right, but they don’t know what, and they don’t know where to begin to look for the root cause.

This is where understanding our core needs can help, providing a sort of baseline or map from which to explore our current reality, identify the underlying problem and then make changes to get to a better place.

So what are these core needs?

Primary among these is a sense of safety and security. This can refer to our physical safety, having a roof over our head, having a job or income.

There are however, other apparently less fundamental needs, the absence of which can have a profound effect on our lives and happiness. These include a sense of connection and belonging, being part of a wider group or community of people.

They include the need to feel esteem for ourselves, to be achieving, recognised, valued. We also need to have our own sense of identity and freedom and space to continue to grow.

While these basic needs may appear less ‘important’, they are very often at the root of many of the challenges faced by people on an everyday basis.

Recognizing the missing elements in your life can help you become unstuck and begin making the changes necessary to get back on the right track for you.

Breda Stewart

Core Needs Coaching

You’re always making choices … even when standing still

Phone: 087 7436254