Stop what you are doing now. Just stop for a while. Listen to your body, your feelings and your thoughts for a moment. They are telling you something; do you hear them? For example, you may feel that your mouth is dry. This is the way your body informs you about its need for water.
Okay. Did you know that you were thirsty before I told you to listen to your body? No, you realized it after I asked. I see. It means you unconsciously ignore the signals of your body.
So, why do you wait? Do you wait to finish this article? Okay, I promise this article will not destroy itself while you satisfy your thirst. This is not so critical a mission. This is not “Mission Impossible.” Postponing your needs will not bring you any extra benefit. Now I am waiting; go and drink something.
Part 1: The Silence of Unsatisfied Needs
What did you drink to quench your thirst? Did you drink water or something else? Coke? Fruit juice? Tea or coffee? But you were thirsty, right? Why didn’t you drink water? Is this what you always do? Do you always replace your need for water with something else?
I wanted you to listen to your body; however, I did not only ask about your physical needs. Your body hides your emotions; so if you can listen to your body and be present in your body for a few minutes each day, you will get lots of precious information. Track your emotions formed from your neck to your legs; be willing to see them and brave enough to face them. Then, you will be able to know yourself better than before.
Simple, isn’t it? But sometimes the simplest things are not that easy to do. Just like life itself. In fact, everything is so simple; from the moment we are born, our needs determine our next steps. Like other living things on our planet, if we only go after our needs and only try to satisfy them, everything would be easier!
For example, oxygen is one of our fundamental needs, but we never wake up in the morning with a hurry to breathe and store oxygen. We are not afraid of being without oxygen. If someone comes and says, “Do you know you need oxygen?” We do not say, “Of course, I do not need it.” No one told me, “Dost, I feel uncomfortable because I am badly in need of oxygen.”
Emotions? Where Are They?
When someone questions our emotional needs, we feel as if faced with a monster. Yes, our bodies tell us everything that we need to know, but who is so brave as to listen to them? Not only our needs, but who is ready to face the feelings?
As in the above example, we do not realize our needs; we ignore them. If they come to the surface accidentally, we only react. If they shout so loud that we cannot avoid hearing them, we do everything to take no interest and make lots of excuses. When we finally take action, we try to satisfy them with other things not really needed.
What are these needs that we fear so much? The need for acceptance, the need to control, the need for love, the need for approval, the need to be the center of attention, the need for freedom, the need for clarity, the need for trust, the need for success, the need for recognition, the need to be right, the need for compassion, the need for communication, the need for strength, the need of appreciation, the need to be needed…And many other needs that you can add to this list.
Why do you think it is risky to confess these needs? Because if we confess, we prove that we have unsatisfied needs which control us, and even if we ignore them, they drag us from one conflict to another, from one job to another, from one relationship to another. As long as we ignore them, they become more powerful and begin to shout at us, “Hey, look at me, I am here!”
Moreover, when you accept that you have some needs, then you must undertake the responsibility of satisfying them. For example, if you accept your need for approval by others and position this need as a fundamental motivator for all of your relationships, life path and career, you will have to accept something else. You cannot achieve satisfaction of your ignored needs with your traditional methods!
Who Has Control?
Let’s assume that you discovered your needs one by one with the help of a friend, a life coach or a therapist. You will have the chance to evaluate things from a different point of view and be assured the fog in your life will dissolve; you will see. You will suddenly realize that you are not a leaf drifting from one place to the other, but a human being who can act predictable according to your needs and make your own choices and act accordingly.
Are these needs bad? I don’t think so. Are they good? I don’t know. But the fact is “these needs” are here and now. Judging and labeling them as bad or good will bring no benefit and may give serious damage in turn. Such judgments guided us behind the scenes for a long time, didn’t they? And they will do the same unless they are satisfied.
If we assess our needs and their effects, everything will change. If your only life purpose was to meet these needs, then it means you do not have control over your life. Perhaps, you do not prefer to live in that way, but this is the choice of your needs.
When you assess your needs and own them, you will get control of your life and set up some systems to satisfy them. You will then see that they are not the source of sorrow, but a huge power from which you derive benefit.
Part 2: The Return of Needs
When we hear something about needs, nearly all of us immediately begin to defend ourselves. We do not want to depend on anyone or anything. We ignore and deny our needs as if they are contagious diseases or something that we should be ashamed of. When these needs come to the surface, we again try to find a way to forget them. Thus, our needs continue to live under a shadow and control us.
I advise you to stop playing this game with your needs. Realize that if you always strive to satisfy your needs, you cannot get control over your own life. Whether we accept our needs or not, control over our life belongs to these needs.
Most of us rebelled at some point in our life; we stopped wrestling with life and lived the way life came and left ourselves to the hidden needs. The result was not as we assumed, right? We were again in struggle with life and the cosmos; we did not love ourselves and continued to serve our hot tempers. Perhaps, resigning to life was resigning to the needs, what do you think?
May We Get Acquainted?
If you let your needs openly represent themselves, they will not hurt you as they did earlier behind the scenes. Our needs are not bad on their own. If you always need to be the best or the winner and don’t name this need, you prove to be more competitive and undermine others. You’ll be hard on yourself when you are not the best, and as a result, you’ll question your own identity and become depressed. However, if you determine what you need and make peace with it, you begin to think how you can satisfy that need in the most creative and joyful way, and then begin to take action. Furthermore, the result will be more beneficial to others and satisfy you more than you had in mind.
We should also realize another thing about our needs: Needs always come to the surface in bulk, not one-by-one. Sometimes there can be a fundamental need that motivates many other needs. At times, you may have conflicting needs as well. For example, I once had a need for freedom and one for success. Whenever I gave myself free time, I felt I was giving up success.
So, what shall we do with these needs? Shall we meet them or just give up? It is impossible to give up things we do not already own. So the best way to meet our needs is to realize and accept them. I have a method called “No Need” program, and we try to discover four main needs out of 200 basic needs. Here’s a great step to meet these needs: Confess these needs, get on the same page with them, and do so without judging yourself and feeling guilty or helpless.
I have more advice for you: Find a peaceful place where you will not be disturbed. Take a hot bath, listen to some meditative music, calm down and relax with the help of meditation or another method. Then take a paper and pen, look inside and ask yourself: What are my unsatisfied needs? Then listen for the answers. Listen to everything that comes to your mind, especially those you did not want to hear. Now write them down without making any judgment. Let out all feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, helplessness, sorrow and joy. Cry, if you want to.
By revealing your needs, you will be able to declare your imprisoned and ignored emotions. At the same time, you will feel a real healing. Don’t worry! Your emotions cannot hurt you—at least not as much as they did when they were hidden within your body.
Please write down all of your needs. Remember the cases when you gave a reaction, the events where you felt threatened, moments you lost control. Why did you react like that? What was the underlying need? If another person behaved in the same way, what would you think they needed?
When you finish, review your list. Now, you will choose four needs among your list which have priority. Make comparisons and choose those that best suit you. If you felt grief when writing some specific needs, focus on them.
After determining your four basic needs, write them on a piece of paper and explain each of them. Why are they so important to you? When unsatisfied, how do they affect your life? When are they satisfied and when are they unsatisfied in your life? Ask questions like that and give answers. Please fill a full page. Be sure about the importance of these needs for you. Let your needs say what they want to tell you!
After giving permission to our needs to voice themselves, we must love and accept them. The problem arises when we ignore them, like not having needs. Imagine a hungry baby. They will cry until full. Can you blame them? We all have similar needs. You may have slept well and rested today, but this does not mean that you will not need to sleep again tomorrow, does it?
If you allow yourself, knowing your needs can really be an impressive and life-changing experience. Don’t forget, your needs want to recover. The first step to achieve recovery is to reveal the needs and give them the chance to express what they are. Give them this chance!
Part 3: Individual Limits and Needs
In the first step of our exercise, we wrote down our needs and chose four basic ones. Then we had an in-depth interview with them and began to know them better, accept and even to love them. To have needs is part of being human, and if we enjoy being human, we can have a high-quality life. This is a simple and cheap way to have a better life.
Now, our next step is to set up the necessary structures and systems to satisfy our needs. Satisfying our needs means to get control of our lives and get a grip on them. It means hearing these needs and saying, “I hear you, but what you want from me will not do you or me any good” or trying to satisfy them directly.
The first thing you need to satisfy your needs is individual limits in which you feel secure. If you cannot say “no” to others’ demands and actions which do not serve you well and conflict with your own needs, you can neither control your needs nor your life. In Limites [Spanish edition] which is one of the best books on that subject, Cloud and Townsend says: “Just like the fences around the houses which represent ownership, we need to determine mental, emotional and spiritual limits for ourselves to define our responsibilities.”
To have such operative limits is to declare to others what they can or cannot do to you. To absolutely meet your needs, you need limits to protect you. You must learn to say “no.”
This can be difficult to achieve. Many people are unable to define limits for their lives; consequently, they cannot reach the results they desire. If we cannot define limits to others whose demands and actions hurt us, this can also be a result of our unsatisfied needs and may lead to a problem fed by it. Defining operative limits is an important, life-long process.
I advise you to review your individual limits and get some help if needed. Expect to get a reaction when you start to define and announce your limits. You will probably see very serious inner and outer reactions and resistance. So, if you have difficulty in defining your limits, I advise you to get some help.
Defining your limits demands obedience from these limits, the resistance you will face. This seems to be a long, difficult and frightening process, doesn’t it? Up to now, you were in a comfort zone—with or without limits. You also had some logical and valid reasons for having no limits. Perhaps, you feared being lonely, not accepted, losing love, being left, or maybe just losing “the good man/woman” in you.
There is something, however, you should be aware of: Although you meant to use the word “no,” you have again faced all the negative situations you feared. If you define your limits and obey them, then sometimes violate your own limits; you will do better! This is one of the sweetest paradoxes of life. Believe me, this is where I came from! Although it seems difficult, your reward is very great!
Freedom Behind the Limits
Try a new way for satisfying your needs from now on. Define your limits. Remember your four main needs and define three operative limits for each of them. What will people not be able to say or do to you? Will you say “no” when your limits are violated and have a chance to satisfy a specific need?
Let’s give an example and assume I need to be successful in my career. If others do not respect my time management and interrupt me to satisfy their immediate needs, this can conflict with my need. I should refuse to respond to their demands except for some specified—and short—periods within the day.
When defining your limits, question if your weakened individual limits contribute to your unsatisfied needs. To whom or to what didn’t you say “no” and which need controls you?
After determining three limits for your needs, now is time to apply these limits. As I mentioned before, defining individual limits is easy for some people; whereas, it is difficult for some others. If you are in the second group, you must work seriously hard on that topic.
Part 4: The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Your unsatisfied needs are like unproductive lands widened due to no watering for a long time. If you give them enough water, they will reveal the hidden abundance in them. Perhaps the trees that will grow on these lands will form their own climate and bring rain; there will be no need to water them. Then, the trees will have a productive life within their own eco-system.
The second step is to set up an automated irrigation system. Our goal is to set up this system once and let it work alone automatically. The only goal of this system is to bring solution to your need. The system you set up should satisfy your needs in an automated way! The purpose of this irrigation is to satisfy our egocentric needs so let’s call it Egocentric Automated Irrigation System (EAIS).
SO, what is this EAIS? I have no idea! However, when I worked on “No Need” program with my clients, we found highly different and creative solutions; we set up many EAISs. At this stage, you will use all your creative energy and intent to persistently satisfy your needs. You will begin to have fun; you will give permission to yourself for fun.
The solution can be very simple. One of my clients had a need for responsibility and leadership which did not fit his current position and responsibilities at work. When he tried to satisfy this need outside of his workplace, he had to give up some hobbies. Trying to satisfy this need was about to create problems both at work and at home. A miraculous chance knocked at his door, and he became the building manager. The residents in his building allowed him to step up and work out his needs while taking care of their needs.
The solution can include more radical changes. For example, only after a major career shift could I satisfy my needs of freedom, feeling useful, helping others and achieving success. I quit my job which did not satisfy me and prevented me from using my abilities. It was hard to believe, but now I can see that I satisfied many needs with one shot.
The solution can require courage and sincerity. One of my clients had the courage to satisfy her need for love by talking about it with someone who loved her. She began to call her loved ones more often and express her love for them. Telling people what you need and asking for it may require some courage in the beginning. Conversely, I believe ignoring your needs is also bravado because we do not know when the bomb will explode and in what way it will take its damage.
You were afraid when you read all these, right? Perhaps you imagined yourself in the same situation as the above examples. Perhaps you thought that if you demanded love from others, it will lose its value. Who said so? If you do not express your needs and demand to satisfy them, then you will continuously complain, react and be unhappy.
What are other frightening and annoying things about this process for you? Needing others and being dependent? I have some bad and some good news for you. The bad news: We are in need of each other for all our emotional needs. If you make peace with this reality and cooperate with others to mutually satisfy your needs, your life will become more balanced.
The good news: Your needs want to be healed! As soon as they express themselves and as soon as they are accepted and satisfied, they disappear.
We have to take one more step to have a sound individual background. Increase your individual standards. High individual standards mean making our choices according to these high standards.
Increasing your individual standards is important for satisfying our needs till the end. As soon as we create a satisfactory life, our needs are satisfied naturally, and then they disappear. Of course, first of all, you should choose three individual standards which will help you satisfy these four needs, and these same standards should be validated then.
For example, if among your four main needs is to be loved, regardless of your individual standards, then you may need to have a positive inner dialog. You may want to stop judging people and love them unconditionally. You may want to spend a certain part of your time for the well-being of society.
Now there is only one step left. To celebrate! Yes, you did a good job and you should celebrate it! You were highly creative during the process of satisfying your needs, and now use this creativity for a nice celebration.
This is a long and enjoyable process. The above mentioned principles are the fundamentals of my “No Need” program. During this process you should focus on a life which you can control and where needs do not rule you. Yes, this is a long and somewhat difficult process, but it is worth it, isn’t it?
Dost Can Deniz