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If You Don’t Feel These 5 Needs Are Being Met, You’re Toast

February 7, 2020
Image result for burnt toast

A CAUTION: You may think this is highly philosophical and not very applicational, but stay with me on it. I think it has a huge application.

I read an interesting article this morning that identified 5 basic needs that everybody has. Here’s a cut from it:

Human beings are designed with five core needs – five desires that must be met for us to live lives of wholeness:
Security – who can I trust?
Identity – who am I?
Belonging – who wants me?
Purpose – why am I alive?
Competence – what do I do well?

I’d arrange them differently, but I think the list is right. When we have these needs met, we’re set up to give our best and do our best in whatever situation we find ourselves. The opposite is true, too. To whatever degree these needs are not being met, we’ll be unable to bring our best and do our best.

I believe this is true for you, your kids, and your spouse. All God’s Children need these five basic things connecting in our lives and empowering our responses to life as it happens to us. Everybody. But most of us haven’t thought about it long enough or deeply enough to figure it out. So let’s think about it.

There are a couple of big things here. First of all, we FEEL these needs either met or unmet. This is a feeling thing. It’s not a thinking thing. Thinking almost always follows feeling. It absolutely does in terms of our needs. I’ll write it again. We FEEL our needs are either met or unmet.

This is tricky because most of us have been trained or have trained ourselves to either over-value or under-value our feelings. I fall in the second group. When I was young(er), I was in the first group – very emotionally driven. My feelings were often behind the steering wheel of the car of my life. It was sort of fun, actually. Right up until my feelings drove us into the ditch or off a cliff. If you’re a feelings person, you know what I mean. After a few dramatic crashes, I decided I didn’t want that anymore. So to keep it from happening, I decided that I’d just try and not let my emotions factor in anywhere. I was unsuccessful. They still routinely got back behind the steering wheel. Usually at the worst possible time. Anybody know what I mean?

To have no feelings, to shut off your emotions in an attempt to protect yourself and others almost never gets you what you want. You’ll be protected all right, but you’ll also be emotionally inaccessible to people you need to and want to be connected with. When you armor up against the potential hurts emotions open you up to, you also armor up against the beautiful and enriching things your emotions make possible in your relationships.

So emotions and feelings are more than a little problematic. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them. Unless you learn how to educate them. This is where thinking comes into the equation.

The second tricky thing is that we generally act out of these feelings without even knowing that they are the prime motivators for our behaviors. Ever had an outburst of some kid – bad or good – and afterward wonder, “Where’d that come from?!” Everybody has. Mature people have it happen less often than immature people, but everybody has this happen to them. Our feelings are strong motivators. And they are quick! They can get behind the steering wheel in a nano-second.

There’s a whole lot more on the whole feeling/thinking thing, and about coping with emotions. I’ll write more about it another time. But you have to factor this in when you begin dealing with your 5 compelling needs.

I wrote that I’d put them in a different order than the article did. Three’s a reason for this. These needs have a sort of hierarchy. Here’s my order:

Identity – who am I?
Belonging – who wants me?
Security – who can I trust?
Competence – what do I do well?
Purpose – why am I alive?

I am convinced that the greatest need humans have is to know who they are. For Christians, knowing who God says they are is the absolute starting point for living the deep, full and abundant life God has for us. If you don’t know who God says you are, you’re saddled with whatever everybody else in your life says you are. Most of the time, they’re projecting their autobiography on you in a very flawed fashion.

Believing about yourself what God says He believes about you is the most empowering and freeing thing you’ll experience in your life. But you’ll never discover this for yourself until you know your true identity. I could camp out here, too. I believe the whole identity thing is so central to a person’s healthy and whole development that it trumps almost every other issue in your life. This is another thing I’ll write more about later…

When you have a settled sense of who you are, the next thing you need to know is if you’re accepted. Do I belong? Who wants me? And is there anything that will make you not want me? If there is, what would that be?

For most of us, belonging and acceptance have always been conditional. I love the idea of unconditional acceptance, but it’s a really hard thing to pull off. I’ve known a few very mature people who come close to actual unconditional acceptance, but no one is there all the time. Truly unconditional acceptance is an absolute only with God. There is nothing you can do that will make Him love you any more than He already does, and nothing you can do will make Him love you any less than He already does. This is called GRACE, my favorite word in the Bible. Unfortunately, few of us grew up sensing we belonged unconditionally. Lots of us are still trying to figure out if how good we are and how well we produce or perform is enough to get the nod from the important people in our lives.

When you feel you belong, that you’re wanted, when you’re convinced in your heart and mind that you’re accepted, you find security. And that gives you the ability to trust. Knowing who to trust, and how much to trust them is one of the most important things a person will ever grow into. This connects with the idea I wrote about belonging and unconditional acceptance. Only God is absolutely reliable. Only God warrants absolute and complete trust. There are no limits to his reliability. But everybody else has limits.

Our security is directly proportional to how reliably we can trust the people in our life. This is big. It effects every relationship you have. If your need for security isn’t being addressed, you will walk with an emotional limp in all your relationships.

I put competence after security and before purpose for a reason. I’ll only be able to develop my competence when I’m convinced I’m secure and safe enough to fail. If I don’t think it’s safe to fail, I’ll never risk it. An no competence comes without failure.

When I have these four things at work in a reasonable measure in my life, then I can begin making a difference in my world. I can discover and apply myself to purpose. I can begin to answer that most vexing of all philosophical questions, “Why and I alive?”

I’m already over my word count, so I’ll close. Next time I’ll write about why I think addressing these 5 needs is so essential in Marriages and Families, and toss a few ideas on how to leverage meeting these needs in your kids and spouse, and in yourself, too.

From → Marriage, Parenting

  1. Our security is directly proportional to how reliably we can trust the people in our life. This is big. It effects every relationship you have. If your need for security isn’t being addressed, you will walk with an emotional limp in all your relationships.

    Thanks for that observation-clarified some things for me 🙂

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  1. When Your Needs Don't Get Met, and when you're not meeting your kids' needs… | HomeworK with Steve Thomas

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