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Essential tools to help us meet our needs


The previous few articles looked at how, as humans, we have basic physical and emotional needs essential to our survival, both as an individual and as a species. From the moment we are born to our very last breath, these needs seek their fulfillment through the way we interact with our environment. Consequently, when these needs are not met in the world, nature ensures we suffer considerable distress — stress, anxiety, anger, depression, addiction etc. — and our expression of distress, in whatever form it takes, impacts on the people around us. In order to ensure that we have the best possible chance of surviving and thriving, nature has also given us essential tools to help us meet our needs

What are the essential tools?
  • The ability to develop complex long-term memory, which enables us to add to our innate knowledge, and to learn
  • The ability to build rapport, to empathise and to connect with others
  • Imagination, which enables us to focus our attention away from our emotions, to use language and to problem solve more creatively and objectively
  • A conscious, rational mind that can check out emotions, and which can question, analyse and plan
  • The ability to ‘know’ – that is, to understand the world unconsciously through metaphorical pattern matching
  • An observing self – that part of us that can step back, be more objective and be aware of itself as a unique centre of awareness, separate from intellect, emotion and conditioning
  • A dreaming brain that preserves the integrity of our genetic inheritance every night by metaphorically de-fusing expectations held in the autonomic arousal system because they were not acted out the previous day.
The Human Givens Institute

I trained as a psychotherapist with the Human Givens Institute and they refer to these resources as the “human givens”.

Their website says:

“Over hundreds of thousands of years our ‘Human Givens’ underwent continuous refinement as they drove our evolution forwards. They could perhaps be thought of as inbuilt, biological templates that continually interact with one another and (in undamaged people) look for their natural fulfilment in the world in ways that allow us to survive and thrive together as individuals in a great variety of different social groupings.

It is the way those needs are met, and the way we use those wonderful resources, that determine the physical, mental and moral health of any individual, and as such the ‘Human Givens’ are the benchmark position to which we must all refer in education, in mental and physical health and in the way we organise and run our lives at work, at home and in our leisure pursuits.

When we feel emotionally fulfilled and when we are operating effectively within society, we are more likely to be emotionally and mentally healthy. But when too many innate physical and emotional needs are not being met in the environment, or when our resources are used incorrectly, unwittingly or otherwise, we suffer great distress, and so do those around us.”

How are your own needs being met?

Check out how well your own emotional needs are being met right now! If you would like a free copy of the Emotional Needs Audit , click here:

The following few articles will take a closer look at how our needs might be met at 5 different stages in life, from childhood to old age.

Need some advice and support?

If you would like to discuss any of the  issues raised in this article further, or perhaps look at ways that you can start to get your own emotional needs met in a balanced way, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.


Book a counselling session today!


See also Emotional Needs Audit, Emotional Needs, How can I stay emotionally healthy?