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You’ve Got This: Fulfilling Your Unsatisfied Emotional Needs

Individuals have many needs- both physical, emotional, and spiritual. The focus of this series will take a quick 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. 

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.

Below is a look at the first two, what they are, and how to meet them. 


Our emotional need for security is the need for a safe place. This environment enables us to lead our lives without experiencing unnecessary fear and allows us to develop more fully. When our environment feels insecure, dangerous, or unsafe it can lead to mental health suffering. 

Ideas for how to meet the need for security:

One way to start meeting your need for security more effectively will be to start by making a list of things in your environment that are currently an area where you are feeling insecure. Questions to ask yourself include: Is it a certain location? A certain person? Did this start after a traumatic event? Once you identify the areas that feel unsafe – begin to look toward action steps to take to make changes. For example: Is your boss or a coworker harassing you, making it hard to spend the majority of your week in the office? It might be time to know your worth, and start looking for a new place of employment, or consider taking the issue to HR. 


Volition is the need to feel like we have autonomy and have some power in the direction of our lives. Often times this looks like those seasons in life when everything in our external world is taking a nose dive. There is not certainty about the wellbeing of family members, or we are needing to depend on others in order to maintain some level of sanity. We can’t find time in our schedules for routine and managing the small things, and the bigger areas are feeling the wake of the chaos.  

Ideas for getting the need for volition met:

Sometimes we have to take a look at our boundaries: how much of our time is going to meet others needs, who are we letting into our life? In order to gain volition, it might be that you try to gain more control over external circumstances by having a conversation with a boss or a spouse about your need to have more clear boundaries or a little more control over a project or schedule. Assertiveness can help with external control. However, sometimes we have no control over external circumstances, such as terminal illness. You can try to control things that are in your boundaries: what to feed yourself and your family, when to workout, what shows to watch or what color to paint your walls. Another area to help this is internal control. Mindfulness and meditation can help control what is internally happening inside of your body both physiologically and with the thoughts in your head if you can’t take control of external circumstances.

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 using assertiveness to set boundaries with a boss or coworker that makes you feel unsafe, you could meet the need of security as well as volition

Sarah Dailey

Sarah Dailey, LPC

I help my clients as they walk through life’s valleys. Meeting them in the dark places to acknowledge and support my clients enables them to explore and discover their own worth and value. Just as we are hurt in relationships, I believe that we are also healed in relationship with one another. Together, we will find the tools and insight to process your experience and hopefully you will leave feeling encouraged. In particular, I enjoy marriage and family therapy.


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