Understanding Our Essential Needs

Our “essential needs”—met or unmet—affect our thinking, emotions and ultimately our behavior. The following list describes 10 of our essential needs and how we may respond depending on the circumstance. Understanding our potential response can help us to better navigate difficult situations as well as how we can better love and be loved. Consider each one of these needs and ask the Lord to speak to your heart in the areas that may help you the most:

ACCEPTANCE: Deliberate and ready reception with a favorable positive response.
Looks like: someone likes you even when they know you’re not perfect, the welcome mat is always out, there’s nothing you can do to lose my love.
If met: secure, confident, feelings of worth, relaxed, peaceful.
If unmet: aloof and distant, uncomfortable being physically close to people, cold and unfeeling or clinging to others.

AFFECTION: To communicate care & closeness through physical touch and verbalized love.
Looks like: hugs, pat on the back, flowers, cards, verbalize: “You’re very special”, “I think you’re great!”
If met: secure, free to give, feelings of being loved and comforted.
If unmet: aloof and distant, uncomfortable being physically close to people, cold and unfeeling or clinging to others.

APPRECIATION: To communicate with words and feelings a personal gratefulness for another.
Looks like: someone noticing your efforts, saying thank you, comment on job well done.
If met: positive and optimistic, good work ethic, grateful, encouraging to others.
If unmet: easily discouraged and pessimistic, performance-oriented, insecure.

APPROVAL (Blessing): Express commendation; to think & speak well of; commending & affirming the person.
Looks like: being proud of you, doing a great job, commend them verbally in private and public.
If met: productive, confident, good self-image.
If unmet: search for approval, performance oriented, workaholic, “self-made”, lack of self-confidence, insecure, confused, fearful, weary of well-doing.

ATTENTION: To take thought of another and convey appropriate Interest & support; to enter into another’s world.
Looks like: someone who does what you like to do—just because they know it’s important to you, giving undivided attention.
If met: confident feelings and thoughts of “I have intrinsic value because God declared it so,” secure, willing to be a servant, attentive to others’ needs.
If unmet: feelings of being worthless, shy and withdrawn, concentration on appearance.

COMFORT: To come alongside with word, feeling and touch; to find consolation with tenderness.
Looks like: someone putting their arm around you when you’re feeling down; sitting quietly with you or listening to understand; can sound like: “I’m sad for you”, “I’m so sorry that happened”.
If met: caring, compassionate, positive, giving, sensitive, self-confident, loving.
If unmet: feelings of being alone and empty, avoidance of emotions, emphasis on “fixing” situations and people, obsessive-compulsive orientation, volatile, inadequacy comforting others.

ENCOURAGEMENT: To urge forward and positively persuade toward a goal.
Looks like: someone gives you a phone call just to let you know their praying for you on your “big day”, can sound like: “I know you can do it”; “You’ve worked hard and done your best”.
If met: “can do” attitude, positive and optimistic, creative, productive.
If unmet: defeatist attitude, pessimistic, frustrated, withdrawn, negative, insecure, fear of failure, procrastination, perfectionist.

RESPECT: To value and regard highly; to convey great worth.
Looks like: sincere apology, asking for their ideas and opinions before making decisions, listening without interrupting, appropriate tone of voice, their time.
If met: respectful of others, freedom to “grow up”, giving, sensitive, high self-worth, loving, positively assertive.
If unmet: feelings of worthlessness and inferiority, insecure, demanding, intolerant, “victim” mindset.

SECURITY (peace): Confidence of harmony in relationships; want depth of commitment; free from harm.
Looks like: “I am here for you” and being on their side
If met: full of faith, confident, giving, grateful, positive, adaptable, flexible.
If unmet: fearful, insecure, controlling, possessive, anxious, worrier, negative, rigid, self-reliant.

SUPPORT: Come alongside and gently help carry a load.
Looks like: having someone help with a certain project, someone pitch in to help with a list of things to do, sounds like: “I’ll be glad to give you a hand”.
If met: encouraged, grateful, feelings of being loved, hope, sensitive to “giving” opportunities.
If unmet: discouraged, weariness towards life, fear of failure, timidity, prideful, self-reliance, selfish.