The need to have control of our lives, and the need to be ‘master of our own destiny’, is a core basic human need. As children grow and learn, they work from dependence to greater and greater independence as the years progress. It is an essential part of the survival of any species that its young be able to fly the nest and be individuals in their own right. Perhaps this is the reason that a loss of control or autonomy in our lives has been found to lead to symptoms of panic, anxiety and depression.
As I write this latest in the series of blogs on our basic psychological needs, Valentines Day is nearly upon us. Naturally attitudes vary about this day with it’s increasing commercial attention. The purpose of the day has become increasingly blurred, with people giving cards and presents to loved ones at various levels. There are even websites promoting Valentines for pets!
At it’s simplest though, perhaps it is an opportunity to focus on the basic need for intimacy that we discussed in the previous blog of this series. Remember that intimacy is something that can be shared at different levels with different people. It’s not necessarily about love and romance.
Closely linked to intimacy is another basic human need – the need to regularly give and receive attention.
In general, we all have a basic need to have connection with others. While there are a few exceptions, such as those on the autistic spectrum, the need for intimacy on some level is vital to our mental, emotional and physical well-being. This is why, for most people, solitary confinement or exclusion are such painful and cruel punishments.
If you are not fulfilling your need for intimacy, you are highly likely to experience some level of depression and anxiety.
How do I fulfill my need for intimacy?
Many of us are lucky enough to have a partner or a spouse, with whom we can share intimate moments. From a gentle touch on the arm, to kissing and sexual intercourse, we are fortunate to be able to deeply fulfill our need for intimacy. This may seem the ideal, but even if you live alone, it is still possible to improve this area of your life. It is also true to say that relationships with a loved one may not always be running at their best, and the intimacy that once was there, may now be less.
In this latest blog in my series on meeting your psychological needs I am focusing on our need for challenge.
Not everybody wants to climb Everest, swim the channel or run an ultra-marathon. Some people do these things without thinking, but they are not essential to everybody. When it comes to being creative, which is related to challenge, we don’t all want to become the new Picasso. While it may be true that we all have a novel in us, we might be perfectly happy to keep it there!
However on some level, there is a basic human need to be challenged. If we live a life entirely based on habit, a safe environment, comfort and casual social interaction, over time, it is very likely that our boundaries of what is safe will shift.