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Tip of the Week - Needs Awareness

Updated: Oct 5, 2022

Howdy ;)

How are you this week? Did you find more peace, quiet and expanded perception with your Presence practices last week?

For this week's Tip for Sanity, we'll look at the core of Emotional Intelligence.

I mean, what is emotional intelligence, anyway? What does Emotional Intelligence mean to you?

You can leverage this week's Tip - Needs Awareness - to: ​

  • Enjoy quicker inner resolution when you're emotionally charged

  • Help others to gain greater self-understanding in less tragic ways

  • Cultivate more practical and effective compassion in ourselves, others, and in our world.

For years I've helped myself and others gain relief from stress in as little as 3 breaths by using needs awareness to generate doable, immediate actions steps to feed unconscious needs.

I hope you'll soon experience the relief and joy it can bring, too.

With love and blessings, Maya

The Magic of Needs Awareness

The Magic of Needs Awareness - What's wrong with feelings?

(jk, that's total internet click-bait there)

This week's Tip For Sanity explores Needs Awareness as the core of emotional intelligence.

For most people, emotional intelligence is just about the feelings. We are taught that if we learn how to name and express feelings, it will help us in our relationships. I'm hurt. I am happy. I'm sad. I am angry. Naming feelings helps us to be able to self-interrupt and reflect when we are emotionally charged, or worse, emotionally hijacked.

(If you would like help to cultivate your emotional vocabulary, you can do that by practicing self-reflection with this list of feelings. )

While valuable, feelings alone have a huge drawback. The limited self-expression of just talking about feelings fails to articulate what we need, or what we want to do about that need right now.

It's kind of like a drive-by shooting - it tells everyone around that something is wrong, but it doesn't express what we would like. For some people, it may even be extremely painful to hear raw emotion without a more specific request they can follow to help you. Imagine hearing someone say, "I'm angry at you!" It doesn't tell you what they want, or what you can do about that right now.

In short, feeling-words are not very powerful for generating resolution.

So it's helpful to exercise and grow emotional vocabulary, let's remember that emotion-words are just a pointer to get our attention.

The core of emotional intelligence is in understanding the underlying, often unconscious, core values and needs that give rise to our emotions. To get to a solution, it helps if we make doable requests to feed the needs behind the emotions.

For example, if you're feeling lonely, maybe it's because you need touch, or companionship, or empathy. Then you can make requests to feed the specific needs.

Effective Emotional Intelligence is only 1/4 about Feelings.

The more useful core of EI is Needs Awareness.

Powerful win-win solutions can be had without naming feelings at all. In fact, sometimes just the clarity of understanding the inner core value alone creates a shift of relief.

When we understand the innocent underlying needs (core values) within ourselves and others, we can more quickly and simply resolve problems, generate win-win solutions, and enjoy increased life satisfaction.

The Anatomy of Emotional Intelligence - Needs generate feelings

You see, emotions are simply the body's feedback mechanism. When your physical body needs nourishment, the body gives you feedback by giving you a grumbling stomach. If you hear the grumbling and do nothing to feed the body what it needs, eventually you will starve to death.

Emotions are just like a grumbling stomach. Knowing that there is grumbling isn’t enough. Once you hear a grumble from your emotional body, resolution requires you to look inward to understand what specific kind of nourishment your core needs (and then take action to feed it).

Just like a growling stomach is the body's biochemical feedback mechanism to tell us that the body needs nourishment, emotions are the body's biochemical feedback mechanism to tell us that the psyche needs some form of nourishment.

Our job, when we experience an emotion, is to inquire WHAT form of nourishment the psyche needs.

Emotions point to Needs.

If our needs are fed we experience pleasurable emotions - satisfaction, relief, gratitude, joy. If our needs are unfed, we experience unhappy emotions - irritation, concern, frustration, anxiety.

The more powerful, more effective form of Emotional Intelligence, is to learn that when there is an emotion, we need to ask ourselves what the need is within us that is making that emotion happen.

Here are questions that can help uncover the needs behind unhappy emotions:

  • What is the yearning behind this feeling? What is the comforting, relieving, satisfying scenario the emotion wants? If it got that scenario, what need or core value would it feed?

  • Focus on what you DO want instead of naming what you DON'T want. Instead of, "I'm mad because I want him/her to stop harassing me," try, "I am mad because I want him/her to respect my boundaries." Notice how the second one finds the inner core value within the self. Finger-pointing fuels emotional charge and anger. Self-awareness about what we value and need provides us a path to relief, requests and/or new choices. This level of self-awareness provides settled, powerful and immediate resolution. A request might include something like, "Please honor my boundaries and only call me after office hours."

  • If you are thinking of a person, place, thing or action that someone will do for you, ask yourself this question: "If I got my way, what would it give me? What core value or need would it feed for me?" Remember that are emotions aren't about what others are doing or not doing, that's just the trigger. Our emotions are about what we need inside ourselves. If the other person did what you want them to do, what would it bring you? This question will bring you closer to the core value. It also generates more immediate, doable requests. Notice the difference between, "I want you to listen to me better," which doesn't make clear what "better" would look like, or "I want my requests acknowledged." With the clarity of the second choice, possibilities open up - there are many ways I can get my requests acknowledged; this person is just one strategy. If my requests aren't acknowledged here, I can make new choices. I can decide to ask again. I can decide to build other relationships with people who do acknowledge my requests. Our needs are about us, not about the other person. Our requests about their actions are simply one strategy to help us feed our own needs. There are 10K strategies for us to feed any one of our needs.

  • Sometimes core values are strategies for deeper needs/core values. When you think you know the core value alive in you, test it. Ask yourself, if you got that, what would it bring you? This will bring you closer to the true core. For example, let's say you imagine that you need money. If you got money, what would that bring you? This question might reveal that money is just a strategy for your security. Security is the actual core value. Now, you can explore other strategies to give you security. This builds resiliency.

  • After you've had a chance to try needs awareness with yourself, how might you support others with it? By helping others understand the core values / needs behind their emotions, they can find relief and get clear about need-meeting action steps. What might conversations like this look like? "I'm sorry you got ghosted. I imagine you want more care than that, is that right?" With an affirmative guess at core values, we can enrich life with requests that generate solutions. "Who else might you invite to dinner that might show more care?" "Could you help me understand what you would have liked better?" "What could you ask for that would give you that experience right now?"


Awareness of feelings is not enough. Grumbling about dissatisfaction is not enough. Feelings are only the first step of emotional intelligence. Next we need to look inward to understand what underlying (and often unconscious) core values and needs are trying to be fed. Then make a request of yourself or others that will help feed those needs.

(In the coming articles we will talk more about how to generate simple, effective, powerful requests.)

When we get good at uncovering the yearning behind emotional charge, focus on what we DO want instead of what we don't want, and make requests that will immediately feed our underlying core values / needs, we build a foundation of powerful self-care.

With this foundation, we learn deeper compassion and empathy toward others. We learn how to translate the tragic behaviors of the people around us into questions and requests to help them meet needs they don't even realize they have.

Like magic, with daily use, needs awareness helps resolve even life-long pains. It reveals our common humanity. We begin to discern between means that our calls for healing, and needs that reflect and express our Divine Face, our highest selves.

Eventually, as we successfully feed more and more needs, the psyche relaxes, opens, and realizes that we are safer than we realize, more held in a grand tapestry of care and support than we realize, and less dependent on our needs than we previously realized. From this quiet, zen space, we begin to transcend beyond needs, reMembering the eternal with us. From this place beyond needs we are immeasurably powerful, without fear, and able to navigate the "real world" with light-hearted ease.

What unfed needs lead you to sometimes-tragic behaviors? What requests could you make of yourself or others that would better feed those core values and needs?

What are you yearning for?

Walking the Talk

How can you benefit from this week's Tip for Sanity? Here are a few questions to help you get the most out of it:

  1. Describe - What is the practice described here? (Just the facts, Jack - Who, What, When, Where, How).

  2. Name a memory of something you did that you later regretted. What did you do that you felt sad about? What need were you innocently trying to meet through that action? What underlying core values / needs were not met by the way you tried to handle it?

  3. Name something someone else did that you don't like. What innocent core values / needs might they be tragically trying to meet by doing those things? What need of yours is going hungry that you want acknowledged and cared for?

  4. Pros/Cons - What are some of the benefits of needs awareness? What are some of the drawbacks?

  5. Compare/Contrast - Think about what the world would look like with, or without, needs awareness. In what situations might this work better? In what situations might another practice work better?

  6. Name one issue where you're currently having difficulty. Where might you use needs awareness to increase sanity in your life? In your relationships? At work?

  7. How and where might you invite others to use this practice with you?

  8. What do you value as your biggest take away from this week's Tip For Sanity?

For more help with this tip, or if you’d like a free phone consultation toward an ongoing coaching relationship, call Maya toll-free 1.877.535.5438 M-Th 1-4pmET or click here to book an appointment.


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