Pursue What Matters
Episode 203: Getting Your Needs Met
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Are you thriving? Or are you just surviving? How would you even know? Join me today as we explore three keys to understanding and meeting your needs.
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So I have a question for you. Are you getting your needs met? Second question, how would you even know? So you might be able to answer this question at the fringes of human behavior? So for example, you know, if you’re deadly miserable, and so maybe you’d say, No, I’m not getting my needs met. Certainly there are people in that category. And at the other end of that spectrum, maybe if you’re ecstatic beyond measure, which doesn’t last for long, you could say yes, I’m totally getting my needs met, that these moments at the at the extremes are few and far between for most of us, and they don’t really give us a good measure of whether we’re meeting our needs. And so you know, how many of us live at these fringes, I would, I would mention that it’s not actually really great to be living at these, these fringes. So what about the rest of your days.
So today, I want to help you create a more nuanced understanding of your needs. And this is where we’re really helping you to build more self awareness so that you can help meet your needs, so that you can be effective at self leadership. And so that’s all about helping you lead with curiosity. And each week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence in one of three areas. So first is clarity. Second is curiosity. And third is leading and building a community. And so today, we’re really focused on helping you be curious about your own experience. So as we increase self awareness, we increase self leadership. And of course, if we can’t lead ourselves, we’re not very effective at leading others. So let’s jump right in with our first point. So today, I have three keys to helping you understand your needs. So we’re going to keep things simple, I like to do that I think it’s more useful, and a better chance that you’ll remember what I share with you, and hopefully, that it will be useful. So I have three questions to help you better understand your needs. So these are kind of categories that help us to wrap our heads around needs. So first, is what what are your needs? Second is why? So why are you driven by some needs more than others? And we see lots of variability across the lifetime and also across individuals in terms of pursuing specific needs more than others. And the third question is how so how can you meet your needs effectively? And of course, I’m always really invested in helping you to do that.
So let’s look at this first question, what so what are your needs as a human? Now that might seem like a really basic question, it might also feel like a really complicated question. But as humans, we all have some basic needs. And this, these needs are relative to our physical, emotional, vocational, and spiritual development. So those are four categories of development that I think it’s kind of helpful for you to think about your needs. You know, what’s going on physically? What’s going on emotionally? What’s going on vocationally? What’s going on spiritually. So when I talk about vocational development, I’m talking about growth and development and learning. So it doesn’t have to be so narrow, as a job. It can be educational pursuits, but really, we’re thinking about, you know, how we contribute in the world, how do we develop skills and contribute and so it often is tied to our work, and our education. But it you know, it doesn’t have to be contained to that it can be, you know, hobbies and pursuits that you have outside of your specific job or work. But I want you to think about our basic needs relative to those four areas of development, because I think it helps you to kind of pin that down and get a little more specific. So the fulfillment of these needs, sets us off on a path toward greater wellbeing, so when we can meet our basic needs, we are freed up to grow. And so in a very real way, if we are working from a place of deficit, right, if we don’t have our basic needs met, it’s very difficult for us to even consider and let alone pursue higher order, growth and development. So Abraham Maslow, who was an incredible psychologist, he really contributed a lot to the foundations of psychology, he taught that all needs can be grouped into two main classes of needs, and that these two main classes of needs really do need to be integrated for wholeness, right. So he was really looking at well being. And so the first category or main class of needs are known as deficiency or D realm needs, okay, so d realm needs or deficiency needs are motivated by a lack of satisfaction in key areas of human functioning.
Okay, and this is just part of the human equation. So what are some examples of de realm needs, food safety, affection, belonging, and self esteem. So just think about yourself, right? We have this term known as hangry. Right? When you, you know, if you’re like most of us, when you get hungry, you get angry, when you get hungry, it’s hard for you to focus on the work in front of you, when you get hungry. All you can think about is where can I get food? When can I eat next, it becomes distracting. It’s, it’s a very compelling need. And so right, that need is driven by deficiency, right? Like if we’re hungry, if we haven’t had something to eat, or we don’t have enough to eat, we really are highly motivated to seek after our derail needs. So again, examples of those include food safety, affection, belonging, self esteem, right, so this is another phenomenon we see. For individuals living in high crime areas, you know, they might not ever get past safety concerns, right, that makes it hard to focus in school that makes it hard to even think about life beyond simple survival, and preservation of life. And unfortunately, some people really do live at these extremes. And so that’s the first category of needs those deficiency or D realm needs. Second, we have growth, or being realm needs. So being B, E, I, N, G, and these are, you know, shortened for B realm needs. And these are all about self actualization, and transcendence. And so if you know anything about Abraham Maslow, he taught about self actualization, and that was really his theory of human development. And so these B realm needs are all about growth. Instead of being driven by fears, anxiety, suspicions, and the constant need to make demands on reality, which is really where the D realm needs are coming from, be around needs are all about growth, they’re about serving a higher purpose. They’re about connecting to meaning, fulfilling potential contributing, and ultimately, selflessness. So you’re able to really look beyond your own needs, because those needs generally speaking, are being met. Okay. And so that really opens you up to the broader world, it opens you up to your potential and to, you know, the path of what it would be like to develop your potential. And I think a really important aspect of the B realm needs is that they open you up to service to seeing the needs of others, empathizing, using your skills, your gifts, your talents, in the service of a greater cause. And that is where we really connect with purpose and meaning.
And so that is the answer. Right to our to our first question, what are your needs as a human? So I want you to think about your needs in those two main classes. And you can think about it in terms of those four realms of human development. So the physical, emotional, vocational and spiritual development. This brings us to our second question, why? So why are you driven by some needs more than others? So I hate to break it to you. But as humans, we’re all vulnerable. As humans. We’re all hardwired for connection. Right? And so these are two big drivers of our behavior. And a big driver of how we will attempt to get our needs met. So when we look at connection, I absolutely mean it. When I say we’re hardwired for our connection, we can look at that in the brain. When we lack connection, care, love, and affection, we literally die, right. And, in addition, right before we die, we languish, we become suicidal. And so you know, the mortality rates of loneliness are equal to smoking, right? The mortality rates of loneliness are double that of obesity. And so in a very real way, we need connection. And so as humans, we all have the same needs. But our drive to satisfy these needs can be balanced and growth promoting, or driven by a sense of deficiency. And so as a result, that drive to satisfy our needs, becomes all encompassing, it’s all we see.
So that’s really when we are in a place of deficiency, right? That D realm, because it is driven by deficiency, that’s part of how we understand that. And so it distorts our reality. Because when we’re coming from a place of lack, are our brains, our bodies are, are focused on keeping us alive. And so it’s going to create tunnel vision is going to distort our reality and color, our perception perceptions. This, of course, makes demands on our whole being, right. And if you take a step back, this makes absolute sense, from an evolutionary perspective. Because if you don’t meet your DEA needs, right, those basic needs around safety, food shelter, you’re going to die pretty darn quickly. And that has just been the reality throughout human existence. So Robert Wright said, the human brain was designed by natural selection to mislead us, even enslave us. So that might be kind of an intimidating quote. But what does he mean by that? What he means by that is that when we are operating from a place of deficiency, meaning our core de realm needs are really you know, what’s driving, what’s driving our bus, we, as humans can quickly become misled, and enslaved. Because we get tunnel vision, we lose perspective, right, that drive to get those basic needs met, is so encompassing. And what often is true, is that we don’t really lack those D needs, as much as we feel that we lack them. Now, of course, it can be true that people actually do lack them. And then you’re really, you’re in a very real way trying to survive. But what often happens is our experiences in the past that maybe have been painful or difficult, or traumatic, it colors, our perception. And so when we look at needs and our needs, in particular, we kind of look through reality through the lens of deficiency. And this by default distorts our reality. So we’re not seeing things accurately. Deficiency needs will scream very loud for your attention, right? Feed me love me respect me. This leads to a narrowing of our worldview, even while it causes us to have an outsized reaction to the world.
That isn’t based in reality, right. It’s mostly based in our fears. And so that becomes a really vicious cycle that we need to pay attention to. So it’s important to keep in mind that the greater the deficiency of these needs, the more we distort reality, to fit our expectations. And we treat others in accordance with their usefulness in helping us satisfy our most deficient needs. We’re more likely to use defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from the pain of deficiency. And we experience what Kaufmann describes as defensive wisdom, which is kind of always asking this question of how can I defend myself so that I can feel safe and secure? And so as you can listen to that question, it’s really operating from that D round, it’s about not not enough deficiency, how do I how do I need to defend and protect myself? And so you can see pretty quickly how your reality can become very distorted. And so for instance, if you find yourself kind of always feeling like you’re coming from a place of lack and deficiency, it’s time I’m to examine some of your beliefs about your needs. Is it true that you never have any money? Or is it true that you have a lot of fear related to money? Is it more true that you have difficulty making decisions about money and so it, it kind of leaves you feeling paralyzed. And as though you’re never going to have enough money, or you can’t make good decisions relative to money. And so when you notice these outsize emotional responses, when you notice, gosh, like I’m always worrying about this, it’s time to get curious about those needs. Get curious about your history, get curious about the role of fear, potentially, in coloring that experience. So as opposed to the D realm needs, right, we’re so we’re going to talk about the B realm needs. And again, we’re looking at this second question of, why are you driven by some needs more than others. And so we’ve talked about how D realm needs really distort our reality, and really push us to focus on those. And, you know, we, when we think about those B realm needs, we don’t have distorted reality, right? Like we can see ourselves, and we can see life more clearly. And so we approach life and our needs and decisions with more perspective. So when you’re in the B realm, you are more accepting and loving of yourself and others, like I just mentioned, you see reality more clearly. And you develop growth, wisdom, as opposed to that defensive wisdom, growth, wisdom asks, Which choices are what choices will lead me to greater integration, and wholeness? So you can see how the questions or, you know, the path that you’re looking at is about wholeness is about growth is about self care. But of course, if the lens you are always looking through is one of deficiency rather than growth, you will only ever be focused on satisfying those D realm needs. And here’s the real rub. Even if you do grow, your reasons for pursuing B realm needs could be tainted by that deficiency mindset. So let me just share some examples. So this idea of I need to succeed to prove that I matter, right? This is being driven by those derail needs this, these underlying beliefs that you’re not good enough. So you might push yourself to succeed. But it’s to prove that you matter, versus I believe I have something to contribute on this project, right? Like, I feel passionate about this work. And I want to, I want to do my best. Another example. So I need to make lots of money. So someone will love me, right? We certainly see that in our society that’s coming from that de realm, versus I care about striving for excellence, in purpose driven work, and it shows, and here’s what’s true, the world rewards excellence. And so if you’re passionate, if you’re purpose driven, and you do your best, right, it’s certainly not a promise that you’re going to be a millionaire. But generally speaking, the world rewards excellence. And so that’s why you might find yourself more driven by some needs, rather than others, right? There are some folks that they’re they don’t really care much about purpose. And so those are good things to get curious about. And so now let’s look at our third question. And that is how, so how can you meet your needs more effectively, this is where the rubber hits the road, we really think about application. And so I hope that you know, by now, that in terms of wellbeing, we really do need a balance of both security and growth.
So it’s not like those D needs are something you should banish because first of all, you can’t You’re human, you’re vulnerable. Those needs are always essential. And those are really the foundation for a path of self actualization a path of well being. So we’re not trying to get rid of the security needs, we can’t, but we need a balance. And so the other thing that we really want to focus on is increasing awareness of your needs. And of course, this has been a big purpose of today’s podcast. This requires attunement to those four areas of human development, the physical self, the emotional self, the vocational self, the spiritual self. So you could ask yourself questions. What what does my spiritual self need? What do I need in terms of spirituality? Do I need to worship do I need to sing hymns? Do I need to pray? Do I need to gather in community? You can ask yourself what is my physical self need? I need rest. You know what? I need to exercise more regularly. I need to eat more consistently. through the day. So these questions are actually can be really specific questions, they can be small questions with practical answers that you could start answering today, you could start implementing some of those actions based on those questions and answers in your day today. So the other thing that we need to do in terms of being able to meet our needs effectively, is you must take responsibility for meeting your needs. So as an adult, barring some significant disability, you are ultimately responsible for meeting your needs. Full stop, right? Like that is just a truth. And we’ve got a lot of adults who are walking around pretending to be kids, and they have parents that are, are supporting that and contributing to that it’s such a problem, we need to we need to make peace with this reality, that as an adult, we’re responsible for meeting our needs. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can or should meet all of your needs on your own. Because you can’t doesn’t mean you’re an island. But it can mean advocating for your needs. It can mean asking for support, it can mean taking advantage of opportunities, it can include taking smart risks, right? You can’t play it safe all the time in life, or you’ll never grow. And then lastly, we’re not going to get into these today. But I hope you will join me for an upcoming podcast where I’m going to share with you 13 sources of wellbeing. So these are really an outgrowth of Maslow’s research. And then of course, after his work, there’s been over 40 years of very rigorous research, looking at, you know, what helps us to have greater wellbeing and so there are 13 sources of wellbeing. And we’re going to, we’re going to jump into those next time on the podcast. So I hope that that you’ll look forward to that and that can be helpful for you.
In the meantime, head on over to my website, to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/203-gettingyourneedsmet one more time. www.drmelissasmith.com/203-gettingyourneedsmet. And so I hope that you will take some time and review the podcasts on Apple or Spotify. Your reviews really give me great feedback and it also helps additional people to find the podcast I would love it if you would do that. I’d also love to connect with you on Instagram @dr.melissasmith. I always have more resources related to the podcast there. And I’d love to hear your questions or your comments, your thoughts on what you hear in the podcast. So I am Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care
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