Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Know Your Needs and Feelings

So if conflict is a result of a need or want not being met, we need to identify the need and the feeling that supports it so that we can articulate it clearly. Not only do we need a feeling vocabulary but we need to know what our true need is.

I find that all to often what I think is my need turns out to be a want that results from a deeper need. For instance, I'll think "I need him to not interrupt me when I'm talking." But that is what I want him to change. What need underlies it? I need respect and I think it is disrespectful when I don't have the chance to finish what I'm saying. And then I feel angry when that happens.

Marshall B. Rosenbierg, Ph.D., in his book Speak Peace in a World of Conflict* gives us lists of some basic needs and feelings we all have:

Feelings when needs are fulfilled:

  •  Amazed
  • Comfortable
  • Confident
  • Eager
  • Energetic
  • Fulfilled
  • Glad
  • Hopeful
  • Inspired
  • Intrigued
  • Joyous
  • Moved
  • Optimistic
  • Proud
  • Relieved
  • Stimulated
  • Surprised
  • Thankful
  • Touched
  • Trustful

Feelings when needs are not fulfilled:

  • Angry
  • Annoyed
  • Concerned
  • Confused
  • Disappointed
  • Discouraged
  • Distressed
  • Embarrassed
  • Frustrated
  • Helpless
  • Hopeless
  • Impatient
  • Irritated
  • Lonely
  • Nervous
  • Overwhelmed
  • Puzzled
  • Reluctant
  • Sad
  • Uncomfortable

Some Basic Needs We All Have


  • Choosing dreams/goals/values
  • Choosing plans for fulfilling one's dreams, goals, values


  • Celebrating the creation of life and dreams fulfilled
  • Celebrating losses: loved ones, dreams, etc. [mourning]


  • Authenticity
  • Creativity
  • Meaning
  • Self-worth


  • Acceptance
  • Appreciation
  • Closeness
  • Community
  • Consideration
  • Contribution to the enrichment of life
  • Emotional Safety
  • Empathy
  • Honesty [the empowering honesty that enables us to learn from our limitations]
  • Love
  • Reassurance
  • Respect
  • Support
  • Trust
  • Understanding

Physical Nurturance

  • Air
  • Food
  • Movement, exercise
  • Protection from life-threatening forms of life: viruses, bacteria, insects, predatory animals
  • Rest
  • Sexual Expression
  • Shelter
  • Touch
  • Water


  • Fun
  • Laughter

Spiritual Communion

  • Beauty
  • Harmony
  • Inspiration
  • Order
  • Peace
I found these lists to be quite enlightening. When I consider the conflicts I have had with others and acknowledge that there are needs not being met, it makes perfect sense that the feeling generated is anger or some other counter-productive feeling. When I consider the feelings of our culture right now I only need to look at what needs are not being met to understand violence in words and deeds we are witnessing.

If we want to create peace, the place to start is meeting basic needs - ours and others. 

What is your reaction to these lists? 

* Speak Peace in a World of Conflict, what you say next will change your world, by Rosenberg, Marshall B., Ph.D., Puddle Dancer Press, Encinitas, CA, 2005.

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