Seven Keys to Meeting Your Emotional Needs


For a child to thrive and grow healthy and emotionally, they need to have secure attachments to their parent/s or caregiver. The emotional needs of the child must be met with presence of mind and in a loving way that makes the child feel safe and secure in the world.

In a perfect world, a parent sees the needs of the child and responds with affection, empathy and mirroring. This creates a bond that gives the child a safe haven to grow within.

Since this type of loving attunement often does not occur the way the child needs, the child instead finds other ways to form bonds to have their needs met and feel safe.

As the child grows, the unmet emotional needs separate from their whole self and become hidden or exiled. Bonding is a basic survival need for a child, meaning the child is able to adapt to indirectly meet the needs of the parent, and in turn, make sure the parent meets some of the emotional needs of the child. The overcompensation for the lack of unmet emotional needs becomes part of the child’s personality as their new adaptive behavior.

Following is an example of how unmet needs go unrecognized: Whenever John said or did something the parents didn’t like, the parents often reacted with anger and criticism towards him. If he then expressed anger, they became louder and he was told to get over his anger. The parents’ behaviour towards him made him feel flawed and unworthy of their love.

From these early experiences, John learned that expressing his needs was not safe. In complying, he gained approval from his parents that made him feel more secure at the expense of his own needs. This behaviour of compliance continued with teachers and peers.

In his adult relationship with his partner, when an emotional need arose within him, instead of expressing it, (he had learned from his first significant relationship it was not safe to express his needs) he withdrew and his negative core belief ‘ I’m not good enough’ was activated affecting his self esteem and his relationship with his partner.

These behaviors and beliefs get carried forward into adult life, affecting how we feel about ourselves and how we express ourselves with others. The adaptive behaviors from childhood that helped keep us out of trouble and get some emotional needs met, become maladaptive in adulthood. Our emotional needs continue to go unmet by our significant others. These unmet needs and maladaptive strategies are at the core of every relationship issue. Alone, we shrink inside, disillusioned and unfulfilled. We become trapped – not wanting to be in fear and not trusting love when it’s offered.

The need to feel loved, accepted, safe, respected, supported, heard and understood. Unmet, these needs cause much pain and suffering in relationships. Once you recognize what you had to do as a child to meet your parents’ needs and what your unmet emotional needs were, you are on your way to changing your emotional pattern.

When you become aware of what is occurring within you, you can acknowledge, accept and embrace the parts of you that are abandoned, hidden, rejected or in exile and reclaim them as part of your whole. You do this when you choose to love yourself, especially those parts you judge, so give to yourself what you seek from others.

Once you master the act of self love, your attitude will improve because you are no longer demanding. This way you become empowered from the inside out, because when you practice self love regularly, the love you receive from others is a bonus.

Here are the steps to empower yourself and set yourself free from habitual social conditioning:

1 Let go of the need to have someone else meet your emotional needs.

2 Identify your unmet emotional needs and become familiar with your feelings. Where is the     tension or discomfort in your body?

3 Notice how you abandon yourself.  In what ways are you not loving yourself?  What is the critical voice saying to you?

4  Make a decision to love, accept, respect and listen to your inner voice. This voice may be from a very young and painful part of you.

5  Express your emotional needs in a non demanding and non threatening way by stating what you need clearly and concisely.

6  Let go of all expectations about how your emotional needs should be met.

7   Take action to meet those needs for yourself. If your need is to be heard. Ask yourself how are you not listening to yourself, your own feelings? If your need is to be loved and accepted, how can you love and accept yourself without judgment?

All the answers are within you when you choose to let go of blame and take full responsibility for your feelings, thoughts and behaviours with a compassionate and loving attitude.


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