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Essential Needs


Reflections of Self

As soon as we are born, we learn how to interact with our world based on communicating needs and having them be either met or ignored. In early life, the needs we require are seemingly simple. From the instinctual communication of basic needs of warmth, shelter, safety, nourishment, and love our infant self learns how to relate to the world. In an ideal situation every need is met with minimal discomfort. However, every time a need is not met immediately or sufficiently, a defense pattern develops. Whatever needs are habitually not met, we struggle in our adult life with meeting them. Needing to feel whole, loved, connected, and nurtured is our challenge.


The Defense Pattern that forms in an infant is created in the reality of black and white, where talking is not yet a useable form of communication. As adults our cells and indeed, our whole bodies, hold on to the negative experiences of unmet needs in infancy and early childhood development. What happens to our adult self when as infants our cries for comfort and love was habitually ignored? We ultimately need to look at our fear of abandonment and how that fear keeps people out to keep ourselves safe from feeling the pain of unmet need.


One Source Of Bad Information

There a boy in you about three Years old who hasn’t learned a thing for thirty Thousand years. Sometimes it’s a girl.

This child had to make up its mind How to save you from death. He said things like: “Stay home. Avoid elevators. Eat only elk.”

You live with this child, but you don’t know it. You’re in the office, yes, but live with this boy At night. He’s uninformed, but he does want

To save your life. And he has. Because of this boy You survived a lot. He’s got six big ideas. Five don’t work. Right now he’s repeating them to You.

- Robert Bly


You know that you are in the Essential Need Defense Pattern when you have an unsolvable problem. No amount of advice or help will work to change your problem. Even if someone helps, they won’t do it right or well. At the same time, you may often try to escape the feeling through an active fantasy of how you can get out of the situation or relationship all together. The reality is harder to embrace than the problem or the fantasy. What is the trigger in your life that creates a desire to talk to others about a problem but not take in advice or help?


We all have deep basic needs that were not met in infancy and early childhood. The flavor of need comes from our deeper wounds. For some, we may need safety. We may get this through order and quite with ensuing loneliness. For others, we may need support. We may get this from doing everything ourselves, ironically. We learn to be independent to meet our own needs. We may need to be seen and heard, yet hide and not speak up. Can you in this moment feel into your own needs that you easily meet with the help of others and those you can’t?


The trick here is to realize that we push back against the deepest essential needs so strongly that we have created a completely unrealistic expectation towards the world around us. Our need becomes literally unmeetable. We have to slowly start to chip away by opening our eyes to what is actually happening and letting the Present Moment Experience into our awareness. There is no way to meet our needs in a grandiose gesture. If the gesture existed, we’d not even see or notice it. We can only open our eyes to the amount of need we can take in, a little bit at a time.

Yet we all yearn for a perfect solution and make habits of rejecting the imperfect/not good enough solutions. We speed up when we should slow down - losing the present moment to the largeness of our unmet needs. Ultimately we walk around with out making the connections we deeply need and nourishing ourselves in the most important ways.


Wanting Sumptuous Heavens

No one grumbles among the oyster clans,

And lobsters play their bone guitars all summer.

Only we, with our opposable thumbs, want

Heaven to be, and God to come, again.

There is no end to our grumbling; we want

Comfortable earth and sumptuous Heaven.

But the heron standing on one leg in the bog

Drinks his dark rum all day, and is content.

- Robert Bly


  • The universe is an abundant place. We live on a planet that supplies us with all of our needs. We are surrounded by people capable of doing the same. How many of us believe, though, that the universe, earth, and other people WANT us to be thriving and supported people?

  • Start to look at how you reject the inherent goodness of others and the abundance of the world. See if you can discover how this relates to your unsolvable problem.

  • What is the basic need you struggle most with accepting as being abundant for you from others?

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