How Unmet Needs Lead To Your Best Life
Here we are, more than halfway through the month of January. How are you doing with New Year’s resolutions if you set them? Are you claiming, intending, and embodying? As I was reflecting on my own life and the lives of my clients, I sat with this topic of unmet needs. We often set goals to make something happen and it usually involves discipline and eliminating something from our lives. But another, more loving and successful approach, is focusing on meeting the unmet needs that are driving your behavior.
Remember my discussion about “the inner granny” who is trying to take care of you and help you soothe (if not you can read it here)? Well unmet needs are tied to that topic. If we have some needs that are not getting met, they can crop up in the form of emotional eating, acting out sexually, over shopping, people pleasing, drinking, etc. You know you have unmet needs if no matter how much you indulge in the soothing activity, the nagging feeling doesn’t go away.
Let me start with an example from my own life to paint the picture. Right now, I am working more than I usually do, by a long stretch! I have the need to express creatively and it is going unmet. Here’s what shows up for me. I am overeating chocolate. It’s my go to soothing method of choice.
The Journey To Meet Our Unmet Needs
You know my soapbox about the transformation journey taking longer than 3 months, so I won’t harp on that right now. And the same is true with learning how to meet our unmet needs. This is not an overnight journey.
First, why do you think they are unmet needs? Well, it’s likely that during your childhood, you were taught in a moment or through repeated messages that spending your time or energy on these needs was not okay. So you stop prioritizing this need, and since it’s not required for your immediate survival, you can do well for a long time without paying attention.
But somewhere deep inside, a part of you was paying attention. And has been trying desperately to get your attention ever since. The needs play in the background for a while at first and if you ignore them long enough, they go completely underground. Think prohibition. Did that law really stop people from drinking alcohol? Nope, it simply sent an entire culture of people underground.
The journey looks like stopping long enough to figure out what it is we are truly craving, and then slowly learning how to meet that need.
How Do I Identify My Unmet Needs?
It can be tricky to identify your unmet needs, especially if you have suppressed them for a long time. It can even be a mystery to you. But usually, if you stop and ask yourself what you feel deprived of in your life, an answer will float to the surface.
For more on this topic, I recommend any of Cheryl Richardson’s fantastic books. Almost all of them touch on the topic of unmet needs. My favorite is The Art of Extreme Self-Care. The reason I am huge fan of this particular work is it breaks a year of self-care down into a monthly topic. Which makes the odds that you will make lasting change much higher!
Here is a list of common unmet needs:
- Time for yourself
- Creative expression
- Space to relax and just be
- Connections and companionship
- Travel and time away
- Physical activity
- Peace of mind
- Emotional support
- Physical touch and affection
- Time for what has meaning and purpose for you
- Fresh air, nature, and sunlight
So take a minute right now and ask yourself, “What do I feel deprived of?”
Presto! You have identified your unmet needs.
Learning How To Meet Your Unmet Needs Consciously
Identifying your unmet needs is a great start! And, the next steps are equally important. Now that you know what your unmet needs are, you are going to have to go through a reprogramming process to help you start creating space and time in your life to meet those needs.
We can look back at my life right now for a minute. I was tied up in all or nothing thinking about creative expression. I thought that if I didn’t have a solid chunk of time to creatively express, I would just go without. Wrong answer!
Unmet needs are a lot like oxygen, food, and shelter for us. If those needs are not being met, life isn’t quite right. And over time, having unmet needs can significantly impact your health and well-being. So, what’s the compromise I found in my own life? I found that even if I spend 10 minutes of my day doing something creative, I feel so much better! Which means, that 10 minutes of creative expression is non-negotiable time for me. And I do it first thing in the morning because it fuels me for the entire day.
The irony for me is that when I started making time for creative expression every day, I also found more peace of mind. And I also had more energy, so I was more physically active. And being physically active also gave me more energy. It’s a magic cycle of increased well-being.
Based on the unmet needs you identified, first select your top three unmet needs. Then, carve out time and attention every day to meet those needs in some ways.
Actively Managing Your Unmet Needs
First, this is not all or none thinking. You will have to make choices in your day, as we all must. But consciously choosing to spend time on the things that will fuel you and make you feel whole is vitally important.
A word of caution! Generally, during times of high stress, we forget all about our unmet needs and instead fall into default deprivation mode. It’s good to know this ahead of time and have a plan.
This seems like a simple topic, but acting on it can be challenging. Gather some friends for support and take the journey together.
Big Announcement! So excited to announce that I am coordinating a Self-Love Summit for the week of Valentine’s Day. I have eight amazing coaches, authors, and self-help experts lined up to speak on the topic from a number of different angles. There will be daily resources, practices, and interviews to support your deepened connection with yourself. Look for more information in the coming days.
Ready to have support holding your heart and building a life that leaves you Vibrant. Imaginative. Unforgettable? Please schedule a complimentary coaching session with me using my online scheduling system. You will get the joy of creating a shift in your life and decide what happens from there.
If you would like the support of a Facebook community that is focused on supporting heart centered living, join Closeted Creatives Coaching. There are regular posts to inspire you, spark your imagination, help you become more vibrant, and lead a life that is as unique as your fingerprint.
Blessings on your journey of softening to and embracing your beautiful heart!