Human and Emotional Needs


We have all heard the line, ‘fail to plan and you plan to fail.’  Yet all too often we do exactly that; you may have the physical resources but is the time right for you?  To be ready you need your Human and Emotional Needs met.


I work with a wide selection of people, some tell me what they think needs changing and others are a little amiss why they aren’t making the desired progress.  As I mention on my profile page Martin Smith, my first visit to a  hypnotherapist was at a time like that.  I describe this as being a clash of logic and emotion;  I knew I should be doing better, I just wasn’t getting there.

My frustration, similar to many people I work with was that on the face of all the resources were in place, and I felt I had a good perspective on my then current objectives.  There can be a whole catalogue of reasons why someone is not making their desired progress; one is that their Human and Emotional Needs are not being met.


Human and Emotional Needs?

Ask a group of people what they need to survive and you get a whole load of different answers;  increasingly diverse the larger the group.  There are some people out there that consider social networks as a need; personally, I am all for Tea.

On a purely Physiological level our needs can be summed fairly concisely with the need for food and oxygen; this is of course an oversimplification and takes no account of the environment.

In the 1940’s Maslow (Abraham, Harold) published his Hierarchy of needs.  Presented as a triangle with the base being Physiological and rising up to eventual ‘self realisation’.  There is more information about Maslow here on Wikipedia.

Apart from the occasional oversight during a busy day, or perhaps while overindulged our bodies are pretty good at telling us to eat, drink, sleep etceteras.  A process called Homeostasis is at work.

‘Homeostasis’ is defined by ‘’ as, “the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function.”

And here in the western world, most of us can satisfy the body’s needs fairly rapidly; but it doesn’t end there.

Moving away from just being about physical survival we each seek to find our place in the world and this sense of security can come in a variety of ways.
The Human Givens Institute provides a list of Emotional Needs. These in many ways compliment Maslow’s theory and offer a more up to date understanding.


Emotional Needs

Having emotional needs in balance greatly increases success rates, it makes sense; you travel faster on a level pavement than an uneven path.

The Human Givens Institute states the main emotional needs as:

Sense of Autonomy and Control
Emotional Intimacy
Feeling part of a wider Community
Sense of Status within Social Groupings
Sense of Competence and Achievement
Meaning and Purpose

Exactly what these needs mean to you will vary from the next person, and they may have different levels of significance or magnitude.  While a bolt on the Bathroom door answers one person’s need for privacy, another may require their own dwelling.


Emotional Needs Considerations

Looking at the list above can be a little daunting for some; I had to stop and ask where I was filling some of these needs; here are a few thought starters.



Safe territory and an environment which allows us to develop fully.  Could be financial independence or knowing that someone else is looking after some needs for you.



(to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition.  Maybe answered through work or being served in shops and restaurants.


Sense of Autonomy and Control

Having the volition to make responsible choices.  This is especially relevant, Psychologists refer to this as having agency, the ability to exercise control over your life.  A vast array of suggestions can be made from small to large.  Choosing your own clothes, where to live, a holiday destination or perhaps just the flavour of Jam to buy.  Lacking a sense of agency features in many behaviours; sometimes productive as an initiator, more often negatively.


Emotional Intimacy

To know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”.  Note that this is an Emotional intimacy that can come from a friend, colleague or even a pet.  Hearing someone say, ‘go on, do your best I support you.’  And for you to believe it is very powerful.


Feeling part of a wider community

This may come from employment, from experience I would say it better comes from outside work; perhaps the same people just not at work.



The opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience.  Perhaps the most variable as quipped at above; two people treated the same can have very different senses of privacy.  How much of your life are you comfortable to share with who and how much do you wish to restrict access to?


Sense of Status within Social Groupings

This ties in with feeling part of a wider community; many people’s wider community is their social group.  Remember, status is not the same as rank.


Sense of Competence and Achievement

Go as internal as you like here.  When we compare our competence to others we often come up short.


Meaning and Purpose

Which come from being stretched in what we do and think.  Over an extended period, a lack of meaning and purpose can be detrimental to both physical and mental health.  I rarely need to go too deep here because most people I work with have something in mind.


Trip Hazard Exercise

Practical examples always help, here is a little exercise to highlight potential gaps in your Human and Emotional Needs that could trip you up.

Go and grab yourself a piece of paper and a pen or pencil; or print this pdf.  Depending on how neat you want to be a ruler could be good; be super tidy – use squared paper!

Now draw a simple bar chart, label the horizontal axis with the nine Human and Emotional Needs.  On the vertical axis mark from 0% (zero percent) to 100% so you have something like below.

Now shade in the bars with how well you think you are meeting each of the human and emotional needs.  Remeber that each one is a percentage, not a set scale.  Privacy may score 100% based solely on having your own home.  Another need maybe only 50% met, even with many considerations added together.  Your result could end up something like below.

This is where the Trip Hazard comes in.  Imagine walking across the top of your chart, it is probably rather more varied than colourful the one just below.

How does the staircase above compare with the chart you have come up with?  What are the chances you would trip if not paying enough attention?  Probably looking more like the one below trips would happen without concentration.

Of course, you can take the time to concentrate, we all do when walking over rough terrain.  The need to concentrate uses up resources, resources we could put to far better use.  Have you found yourself taking down a telephone message with a pen that’s low on ink.  You spend so much time and effort making the pen work that you can’t concentrate on message content.


Wasting Resources

Similar to taking the time to watch where you put your feet, using up mental power plugging gaps in your general wellbeing is not good as a long-term strategy.  Furthermore, the crutches we use to plug those gaps can be unhelpful and work against other parts of life.  Think Comfort Eating.

We live in a world of automation, tasks that used to take hours can be done quickly or without our involvement.  Even some relatively quick and easy tasks can be automated; think about these examples.

  • Automatic Washing Machines
  • Microwave Ovens
  • Automatic Cars
  • Central Heating
  • Online Services

Add in helpers like smartphones and theoretically, we should have more time for ourselves.  As the speed of life increases we can fail to check are human and emotional needs are being met; maybe looking for a sticking plaster solution.

I opened this post explaining how I ask clients to think about their personal needs at the start of our work together.  I want to know that we are building on solid foundations and not wasting energy avoiding trips; energy and focus need to be on progress.  Having the trip hazards removed or well known about allows progress to be unpressured as there is not a fight for resources.  The masthead says Serene Action, no need for over the top shouting when resources are properly engaged.


Hypnotherapy and needs

Hypnotherapy has relevance in two ways with regard to human and emotional needs.  Nearly all Hypnotherapy involves a level of ego strengthening, this plays to human and emotional needs.  I am a big fan of effective intervention and clients having maximum available resources clearly helps.

Sometimes the epiphany comes as part of a therapy session, with hypnotherapy providing for some needs; examples being:

  • Privacy
  • Sense of Control
  • Attention

At other times unravelling these needs is what the session is about.

The two parts Hypnotherapy plays are, locating issues and helping to resolve these.



In this post, we have looked at some recognised Human and Emotional Needs, an exercise for evaluating yourself and the benefit of having these needs met.

It should be obvious that before embarking on changes or challenges we should take care of ourselves; sadly I see many people who overlook this.  If you want to make the most of your resources stop wasting them; get your ducks in a row or at least close to and see how much easier everything else becomes.  Embarking on positive change without having your basic needs met is unlikely to progress well.

If you skipped past it go back and complete the exercise above; this may just give you some surprising insight.  You can run through it again in a couple of weeks to check how likely you are to be tripped up.