Are Unmet Needs Blocking You From Achieving Your Goals?

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Are Your Needs Being Met?

BY DR ANDREAS COMNINOS

We all have needs. Our needs can be physical (e.g. a need for water, air, food, rest/sleep, or freedom from physical pain), emotional (e.g. a need for understanding and support from others, or a need for a sense of emotional safety and self-understanding), or social (e.g. a need for a sense of belonging, or a need for autonomy and self-identity).

Is time for self-care one of your unmet needs?

In most situations, we know what we need and we can work towards having our needs met. But what about when we don’t know what we need? Not knowing what we need can make us inflexible and cause us to behave in ways we later regret. It also means our needs go unmet and this can start to cause us problems longer-term.

Let’s say you need time for self-care, but you’re so focused on other things – work, family, finances – you’re completely unaware of just how much you need that time for yourself. Over time your unmet need starts to be expressed as anger and frustration. The longer your need goes unmet, the more agitated you feel, and the more people around you start to feel the effects of this.

Unmet needs can be the cause of any number of problem behaviours – anger, binge eating, gambling, drinking, speeding just to name a few – and understanding and acknowledging these unmet needs is an important step in successfully changing your behaviour. If you can’t easily see a link between your behaviour and your needs, take the time to look at things more closely.

A good way to increase your awareness of your needs is to learn to slow down, take a step back, and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. Be present. Be mindful. Be aware of what your mind, body, and feelings are telling you. Observe them, ‘have’ them, but don’t act on them. Responding to your thoughts and feelings this way takes practice, but the benefits are less reactivity and more openness to your experiences, and this openness paves the way to you being able to identify your needs so you can meet them in other, more helpful ways.

Andreas is a Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of clinical experience. He works with adolescents, HSC and university students, adults, couples, and families with a wide range of cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and physical difficulties, and draws from a range of effective, evidenced-based treatments including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Schema Therapy, and Mindfulness to empower his clients and help them to live more meaningful lives.


 

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