How People Work (Part 1): Basic Emotional Needs

Do you have any things that you do that you just hate? Do other people do things that you hate? Of course!

and if you don’t either stop lying to yourself or give yourself a damn pat on the back because you’re perfect! And a liar.

I’m Rae, a breakthrough coach and NLP master practitioner and today I’m going to explain what motivates the things that you do, and why anyone does anything for that matter.

This is the first post in a 3 part series on why we do the things we do and why we perceive things the way we do. Covering today basic emotional needs that underpin all human behaviour, the good, the bad and the beautiful.

Armed with this knowledge, you’re going to find it much easier to understand other people and yourself, you’ll be able to empathise, and see past negative behaviours to see the good underneath.

Understanding and acknowledging the “why” behind behaviour is the first step towards change.

So we have 3 basic emotional needs as a human, and these three needs are the basis for EVERYTHING that we do in life and motivate EHVURY action.

We need to feel loved, bit of a no brainier and fairly self explanatory.

We need to feel important and have self esteem. This is the one that a lot of people struggle with, sometimes people believe its a bad thing to feel important, it’s not – that’s probably a belief you’ve learnt in childhood. Feeling significant is literally essential. How you go about getting it can be problematic but we’ll get to that later.

And we need to feel certain, which covers your safety, control in your environment and security in your future and availability of resources.

And as humans, we’re constantly striving to either meet or protect these needs, and if they’re threatened or if we’re running low on them, that’s when you see some really intense behaviours.

The people who I trained with, (who are just amazing), use a bucket analogy and I find it’s the best way to explain it.

Let’s visualise that each person has 3 emotional buckets love and belonging, significance and certainty. Their basic emotional needs.

These buckets each have liquid in them, an equilibrium that we need to maintain so we can feel like we’re not dying, which is nice.

But the problem with these buckets is they have holes in them. So we need to keep filling them up. And they’re still buckets so they can fairly easily be kicked over and spill all over the floor.

Things like arguments, redundancies, breakups they’re all fairly likely to smash your buckets over.

If too much liquid spills or drips out it leads to isolation, worthlessness, and uncertainty. If a person gets to that place they’ll do anything to get their buckets filled back up.

If you see someone doing some crazy shit they’re probably just seeking out those needs.

If someone is running really low on their buckets they also might take drastic measures to keep whatever liquid is left in them as opposed to get it topped up. This would be like those people who push people away to avoid getting hurt kind of thing. They’re preventing a potentially more catastrophic blow.

When the buckets are all extremely filled it feels euphoric. Those perfect moments.

And buckets is just the best analogy for all of this because it mimics what goes on biologically. When you feel these lovely things the receptor sites in your brain get filled up, because you’re experiencing those emotions. Emotions are chemicals – your “buckets” literally get full with good feelings. If you’re interested in the biology of emotion Candace Pert is the woman to go as thats about the best explanation I can muster.

It goes without saying that these needs overlap and interweave. Sex for example is going to hit all 3. If something is a big thing for you, a top value or something in your life that matters a lot or you do a lot – it’s likely covering all 3.

Why do we need these things?

Humans are obviously social mammals, so we’re built to survive in groups, and these three things boost your chances of survival within a group.

If we’re loved, we’ll have our tribe to protect us, if we’re important society will keep us around and we can attract a mate, if we’re certain we’ll be productive, useful, rule abiding.

These needs are tied to our survival. It is a matter of life or death. We’re designed to feel good when we have those things – it’s your brains way of saying well done you’re surviving. Keep doing these things. That’s why it feels so utterly shit when you don’t have them, it’s your body way of going no no no don’t do these things please.

The personal qualities that we value as a society are ones that make people feel loved, important and safe.

No one can resist a person who rubs your belly and tells you you’re special.

No one can resist something that meets your needs, you’re wired to find them addictive. Survival is addictive.

We either get these needs met in resourceful ways or unresourceful ways. Depending on our map of the world, our unconscious programming and how resourceful the state that we’re in is. I’ll delve into this in my next post.

Ie you can get your significance needs met by sharing your amazing art to the world, or by bullying someone.

Or you can get your certainty needs met by keeping your house tidy, or by stockpiling toilet rolls in the middle of a pandemic.

You can get your needs met by mother theresaing or by terroristing. I can absolutely guarantee that the most obscene, horrific acts that have ever been committed by humans and the most outstanding ones come from the same place when you boil it down.

Why did Martin Luther King Jr do what he did? Love for his community and people in his life, I’d imagine being a pivotal leader made him feel important, and certainty in a better future, in equality.

Why did Hitler do what he did? It’s hard, but belonging for Germany? DEFINITELY significance, dictatorship is going to hit that and also certainty big time in his horrific ideas.

I know that will make some people squirm, but I’m not talking about morality. I’m just trying to point out that actions on the two most absolute opposite ends of the ethical scale can provide the same things on a personal level.

Every behaviour has a positive intention, even if that reason is perceived self-interest. All destructive and self-destructive behaviours are driven by the desire to meet or preserve their basic emotional needs. Otherwise literally why would you do it?

Anyone experiencing addiction is having all 3 basic emotional needs highly met by whatever it is that they’re addicted to. Any behaviour you struggle to stop doing is a needs thing.

Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources and programming they have, and people aren’t their behaviours. When you start seeing that everyone is walking around precariously balancing three life sustaining buckets, it’s a lot easier to recognise and understand that someones shit behaviour comes from a good place, even if it’s just self interest, no matter how wrong it may be. This is a journey though, it’s hard, and it takes catching yourself out over and over again.

What makes someone choose the unresourceful or downright damaging actions? What makes someone choose the amazing resourceful ones?

I’m going to cover that in the next post, where I’ll take about our subconscious childhood programming. Ooooh

To finish up I’m just going to cover the additional 3 needs. Wait theres more? Yeaah there is.

So this model of emotional needs that I’ve been discussing is the model that I learned from my trainers, it’s the one I endorse, and it’s makes the most sense.

It’s loosely based on Maslow’s hierarchy

You’ve probably come across this before. certainty aligns with the bottom two, and then love and belonging, and then significance/importance.

So, as you can see in the self actualisation tip the other needs are variety, growth and contribution. All good stuff.

Variety, growth and contribution are key ingredients for a super happy mega fulfilled version of yourself but they are not essential for survival. They aren’t basic.

A person who doesn’t have job security wouldn’t find themselves saying you know what my problem is? I’m just not spontaneous enough.

Plus, these needs are really easy to meet. Watch a documentary, try a new recipe, donate old clothes. You can take all 3 on in one evening. In fact thats a lovely idea for a self care evening.

But if you aren’t meeting the other needs, they’re not worth focusing on. You can grow, and mix things up and give all you like but if you don’t feel loved, important or certain, it wont make you happy.

So that’s all, I hope your enjoyed!

I’m verrrry aware that this is a topic that you’ll likely have questions on so please don’t hesitate to reach out! And make sure you follow up with part 2 where we’ll be talking about subconscious childhood patterns and part three where we’ll be talking about perception, filters and why everything in your life isn’t as you think it is. Simply earth shattering!

Thaaaaaank you for reading gorgeous people!!!!! Muah

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