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Pay Attention To Me…. Also, Give Me Space!

Individuals have many needs- both physical, emotional, and spiritual. The focus of this series has been taking a dive into the nine different emotional needs. When someone is suffering, we can often take a glance at their emotional needs, and work toward fulfilling those that might not be satisfied. Thankfully there is a way to examine the needs and see which ones may need nourishing, so that you can begin taking the steps toward more emotional contentment. 

What are the Nine Emotional Needs?

A quick review, the nine emotional needs are: security, volition, attention, emotional connection, connection to the community, privacy, a sense of status, a sense of achievement, and meaning. A deeper look into the need for attention and the need for privacy, two of the emotional needs according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, reveals that we are creatures that need closeness and space. 


Our emotional need for attention refers to the idea that we are wired to have people both notice us, and also for us to give some of our own attention to others. When people look at us, listen to us, and value us, we feel that attention.   

Ideas for how to meet the need for attention 

If someone is feeling too little of attention, they may seek to meet this need in healthy or unhealthy ways. Dysfunctional ways that occur include self-harm or other rebellious behavior. Healthy ways to get our need for attention met include being intentional to schedule quality time with friends or family. Also, sometimes we have to specifically ask for what we need: you could try practicing and then actually asking for attention. For example: “I have been feeling lonely and disconnected lately. I would really like someone to ______ (fill in the blank: listen about my week, hear my thoughts on xyz). Could you set aside time to hang out and talk?”. 


An emotional need for privacy refers to our well-being in relationship to how much space and time we have to reflect on our experiences. While the amount of privacy some prefer is different than others, humans are conditioned to needing to connect with themselves without distraction. 

Ideas for getting the need for privacy met

Privacy is NOT secrecy. So, if you are married or in a serious relationship, keeping secrets is not the same thing as privacy. Privacy is having space to go to the bathroom by yourself, or finding time to go on a jog alone. If you are needing privacy, time to connect with yourself to reflect on your experiences, you might want to block out a short time at the end of each day for a bath alone, or a jog, maybe a few minutes to sit alone on a chair and drink a cup of tea. This time can be used to reflect and process the events from the day as well as mentally prepare for the day ahead. 

If thinking about meeting nine different emotional needs is overwhelming, it is important to note that many times one activity can meet multiple needs at the same time. For instance, in taking a look at your schedule to make time for meeting with a friend that pays attention to you and values you, you also are likely meeting your need for emotional connection as well. 


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