by Melinda Seley, PLPC
In their book, The Seven Desires of Every Heart, Mark and Debra Laaser outline the following seven universal desires that every person has – regardless of age, gender, culture, or religious background:
To be heard and understood
This includes thoughts, feelings, needs, struggles, and opinions.
To be affirmed (specific and concrete acknowledgement of someone’s strengths)
This includes specific and concrete acknowledgement of one’s strengths.
To be blessed
Not only being affirmed for specific strengths and things we do well, but knowing that we are worthy and loved just for being who you are (not what you do).
To be safe
This includes physical, mental, emotional, and sexual safety.
To be touched
We never outgrow the need for non-sexual touch and particularly a lack of confusion between sexual and non-sexual touch.
To be chosen
To be included (more of a community aspect than “to be chosen”)
This is more of a community aspect than “to be chosen” above.
When you think about your own life and experience, how have these needs been met or left unfulfilled for you? Perhaps it would be helpful to read that list again. Often, when needs are met, we are not even explicitly aware that we had the need because it was inherently satisfied. However, when our needs are not met, it can be overwhelming and stir within us very strong emotions. We can become angry with the person not meeting our needs. We can become angry with ourselves for having the need. Or think there must be something wrong with us for having the need in the first place. Unmet needs, particularly in childhood, can shape us deeply.
If you can identify one or more needs above that have been left unfulfilled in childhood, in a previous stage of life, or currently, I would encourage you to consider – what does it look like to grieve that unmet need? Perhaps it looks like naming what has been left unfulfilled and allowing yourself space to sit in the sadness of the fact that you, as a human being, have a fundamental need that has not been met. Can you give yourself permission to do that?
The motivation for considering these unmet needs in your life is not to point a finger of blame for pain you have experienced, but rather to grow in awareness of how your heart and mind have been shaped and how that impacts the way you engage in relationship with yourself and others. And to consider where there is cause for rejoicing…and where there is a need to grieve. Doing so ultimately allows us to live whole-heartedly and connect more fully with others.