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Our innate emotional needs

We are all born with essential physical and emotional needs, and innate resources (such as imagination) that we use to get these needs met. These have evolved over millions of years and are our common biological inheritance, whatever our cultural background.

It is because we come into the world with these needs and resources that they are known as human 'givens'.

Our fundamental emotional needs seek their fulfillment through the way we interact with our environment using the resources Nature 'gave' us. When this works well we are mentally healthy. But when these needs are not being met, or when our resources are used incorrectly, we suffer considerable distress. And so do those around us.

Our emotional needs include:

  • the need for security (stable home life and a safe territory to live in);
  • the need to give and receive attention;
  • the need for a sense of autonomy and control;
  • the need to feel connected to others and be part of a wider community;
  • the need for emotional intimacy - to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are 'warts 'n' all';
  • the need to feel competent which comes from successful learning and effectively applying skills (the antidote to ‘low self-esteem');
  • the need for privacy (to reflect on and consolidate our experiences);
  • and the need to be ‘stretched' in what we do, from which comes our sense that life is meaningful.

It cannot be stressed too highly that people whose needs are well met in the world do not have mental health problems.

Those whose needs are not fulfilled, for whatever reason, or whose innate resources are damaged or being used incorrectly, may suffer considerable distress or develop, as a means of coping, antisocial behaviours which can prove a burden to others and society at large.

Training in the human givens approach enables health and welfare professionals to focus more powerfully on helping their clients identify unmet emotional needs in their lives and empower them to meet these needs by activating their own natural resources in new ways.

Many other professions are adopting the human givens organising idea and learning to tune in to our natural endowment in this way, and many fields are benefiting as a result. Simply understanding what people need to function well, and considering the needs of everyone involved in a situation, gives us a far-reaching and straightforward way of assessing and improving all walks of life – from education to large organisations, politics and diplomacy.

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