There are a number of things that are part of the human experience and having needs is one of them. This comes down to the fact that human beings are interdependent; they need others to survive and thrive.
When it comes to these needs, it could be said that there are at least three areas. The first area, however, is more important than the other two, and one can survive, if not thrive, without the second two being taken care of.
At the bottom
Firstly, there are someone’s survival needs, and this relates to their need to feel safe and secure, to have somewhere to live and food to eat. This is the area that the other areas are built upon.
If this area is not being taken care of, every other area is going to be undermined. Therefore, once this area has been taken care of, they will have solid foundations and the ability to meet their “higher” needs.
In The Middle
Secondly, there are someone’s emotional needs, and this relates to their need to feel powerful and capable, to experience a deeper connection with others and to express themselves. They can live without having these needs fulfilled, but it probably won’t allow them to have a fulfilling existence.
When this takes place, they are likely to survive as opposed to thrive. They can have a very bleak existence and it can be as though they are simply here to make up the numbers.
At the Top
Thirdly, there are someone’s mental or intellectual needs, and this relates to their need to learn. Through having access to information, they will be able to take of their curiosity and to grow.
As with the needs that are ‘in the middle”, this need is not essential to their survival. So, one can live without getting this need met but it will, of course, have a negative effect on their quality of life.
Taking all this into account, if someone is in a position where they are able to meet the needs that are in each of these areas, there is a strong chance that they will live a life that is worth living. This doesn’t mean that they will always be able to fulfil all of these needs all of the time; it means that this is something that will typically take place.
Now, although this going to be the optimum way to experience life, it is not an experience that everyone on this planet can relate to. This is something that can be seen by visiting different parts of a country or the world, for example.
Nevertheless, without even going this far, if one was to take a step back, they could find that while their survival needs are typically met, the rest of their needs are seldom met. Then again, their intellectual needs could typically be met too.
Either way, it is going to be normal for most of the needs that are in the middle area to be overlooked. Thus, they might rarely feel powerful and capable, find it difficult to experience deeper connections with others and find it hard to express themselves in the real world.
Still, even though this will often be the case, it doesn’t mean that they will always be aware of this. What this means is that they could spend a lot of time in their head and be completely oblivious to what is taking place in their body, and therefore, what their emotional needs are.
As a result of this, they will be in touch with both their intellectual and their survival needs, but that will be about it. When this takes place, it will be as though they are an independent human being who doesn’t need others.
When they are in touch with their need for others, this could be a time when they feel frustrated and powerless. It could be as if they have no control when it comes to getting their emotional needs met.
Through being able to take a step back, they could wonder why they are either estranged from their emotional needs or are in touch with them and feel totally helpless. Unsurprisingly, what is going on is not going to make any sense.
A Deeper Look
What this may illustrate is that their early years were a time when their caregivers lacked the attunement that was needed to meet their developmental needs on a regular basis. Instead of tuning into them when they were a baby and providing them with what they needed, they would have typically been forced to adapt to their caregiver needs.
In general, they could have been left when they needed to be soothed and held when they didn’t want to be held, expected to sleep when they didn’t want to sleep and expected to stay awake when they wanted to sleep, not fed when they were hungry and fed when they were not hungry, for instance. This would have been incredibly painful, causing them to automatically disconnect from their emotional self, losing touch with their true-self in the process.
The Fall Out
From very early on, they would have come to see their fellow human beings are being unreliable, unpredictable and untrustworthy. Furthermore, as they were traumatised due to having caregivers who simply didn’t tune in to them, and thereby, violated them on a regular basis, they won’t feel safe around them.
By staying out of their body, and avoiding the pain that is held inside them in the process, it will stop them from being overwhelmed by their own trauma. Being in their body and in tune with their emotional needs will also cause them to feel powerless, which is how they felt when it came to their needs all those years ago.
If one can relate to this, and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.
How they experience life as an adult, as strange as it may seem to them and others, will be the result of experiencing developmental trauma. At this stage of their life, disconnecting from themselves was the only thing that they could do to manage the pain that they were in.
They couldn’t run away or fight back; the only option available was for them to freeze up and to separate from their body. This set them up to be disembodied as an adult - to live on the surface of themselves.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.