Emotions and Needs... More Linked Than You Think


Emotions come up in all different schools of life. In the world of Non-Violent Communication (NVC),  or compassionate communication, developed by Marshall Rosenberg, emotions play a central part.

Non-Violent Communication is based on the premise that everything everyone has ever done or will ever do, they do to try and meet a need they have. This attempt may or may not be effective but it is their driver, whether they are aware of it or not. Needs or sometimes also called values are therefore at the center of it all.

These needs that they refer to in NVC are basic human needs such as the need for connection, acceptance, security, self-expression, understanding, choice, humor and many more. Pretty basic stuff but it’s not often that we think about life or ourselves in these terms and it’s very powerful.

The next part of Non-Violent Communication is about emotions. Emotions are the signals that help us know whether or not our needs are being met. On the whole, the ‘negative’ emotions are making us aware that we are not getting something that we need. The uncomfortable feeling of the ‘negative’ emotion is a call for us to identify the need that is not being met. It’s an invitation for us to reflect on our needs. Then we can find a way to address this need.

So an emotion is not just something we feel. It’s a friend who is trying to point out something important to us. It’s a friend that wants to make sure we have everything we need. They can’t get it for us. But they can help us to realize what’s missing. Then we can take control and make sure we get what we need, in the best possible way. And yes, there is always more than one way. There are many ways we can get the same need met and we have choices. If one option is not working the way we wanted, then we can look for another way.

Next time you feel unpleasant emotions, ask yourself “What need of mine is not being met?” Then, instead of trying to change how you feel or wishing you felt differently, start working on how you can get what it is you need.

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1 Response


March 19, 2015

I just found your sight…I get totally confused with my emotions…and am usually numb.
Grew up in a home where it wasnt ok to express emotions…

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