Robert Sanders, NLP Practitioner, Life Coach and Timeline Therapist at Vinings, writes:
In my previous article, Are you aware of your needs , I wrote about the nine basic human needs, suggested in the Human Givens approach. Fulfilling these needs could be the key to improving our well-being and mental health.
When you are suffering from issues such as depression, anxiety or generally experiencing low mood and having trouble coping with life, paying more attention to these needs, even slightly, can lead to greater happiness.
In this article I am focussing on the first of these needs – the need to ‘give and receive attention’.
If you have ever had a small child, you will know all about the need to receive attention. As very small children, getting the attention of others is a key to survival and self-development. When you think about it, without the attention of a parent or family member, a child would not be able to get the food and care it needs. Equally the child would not learn language or develop other basic tools for future independence.
Fast forward to adult life and although we have all the resources we need for survival, the need for the company of others, whether in a relationship or more generally in friendships, is paramount to happiness. Loneliness is one of the greatest challenges of modern society, where we can be a click away from a thousand people and yet spend each day without ever talking face-to-face with another human being.
This is a two-way need too, and that is something that we often miss when we crave the company of others. We need to pay attention and show caring to others in order to feel a greater sense of purpose as we make a difference to the lives of others.
The need to fulfil this need is a positive thing, but it can sometimes result in negative behaviour. The school or workplace bully seeks to give and receive attention, but gains their reward by causing unhappiness and pain. When you are in a relationship too, although it may seem that this need is amply fulfilled by the relationship itself, sometimes relying solely on one other person to fulfil a basic need can result in one or the other person becoming irritated, dominated or overwhelmed. In essence it may frustrate the fulfilment of the other person’s own basic needs.
So it is important to ensure that you are doing something, even something small, to fulfil your need to give or receive attention.
The first thing to do is to assess yourself.
How well am I fulfilling this need at the moment?
Ask yourself where you are now. You may be fulfilling this need in your relationship, through friendships, through acquaintances or through activities such as groups or clubs. You may even be chatting to your hair dresser, manicurist or massage therapist. You could be working with children or the elderly in a voluntary capacity.
Give yourself a score for how you are doing, out of 10. If the score is less than 7 then I would suggest you think about a small step you can take to improve this need. If the score is less than 5 then do you need to have an action plan that includes several small steps over a period of time.
If you are relying on one person only to fulfil this need in your life then it may well be time to seek other ways.
Oh, and don’t cheat. Having lots of friends on social media, is a far less effective way of fulfilling these needs. Social media is a way of connecting and keeping in touch, but it cannot replace face-to-face human interaction.
Finally, ask yourself how you will know when you are better fulfilling this need? How will you feel? What will be happening in your life?
How can I greater fulfil the need to give and receive attention?
If you feel that you need to improve in this area then here are just a few suggestions of small steps you can take. Often any activity that involves a level of self-care will also contribute to your fulfilment of this need.
- join an interest group – make sure it is something you are interested in for its own sake – look at meetups for some ideas;
- volunteer for something that helps others or uses your key talents – aim for a small amount of time committed regularly;
- commit to seeing one friend or acquaintance for coffee or another activity every week, even if this feels challenging at first;
- chat to somebody in the queue at the checkouts, or talk to a stranger on the train or bus journey to work;
- in your own relationship, set aside a specific time to be totally with and focussed on your loved one – TV off, put down what you are doing, make a cup of tea or pour a drink, and have a chat;
- get a pet – a dog or a cat is great, because they are capable of showing affection and communicating, but even a budgie or a hamster enables you to give affection in a safe and comfortable way;
- phone a family member – it is surprising how easily we can lose touch with our own family as time passes;
- get a massage with Carole Thornton, Caroline Burton or Graham Lines;
- have a session of cranial sacral therapy with Lisa Moore;
- see Caroline Burton or Deborah Fergusson and deal with that annoying foot problem, or simply get a foot massage;
- make an appointment for any of the ‘talking therapies’, such as counselling, life coaching and hypnotherapy;
- see an acupuncturist such as Isobel Staynes or Julia Biggs.
In fact, any of the therapies offered at Vinings will naturally increase the fulfilment of this need as well has having many other positive benefits to your personal situation.