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The essential self-compassion question: What do I need?

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

People talk about desires, wants, and values. ⁣Where do needs fit in?⁣ How do you know what your needs are?⁣

As an unhappy physician, I had no idea what my unmet needs were. So, as I always do, I got to work to figure it out. ⁣

Maslow’s hierarchy breaks down needs into:⁣

💚Basic needs: physiological (food, water, warmth, rest) & physical safety⁣

💚Psychological needs: belonging & love (intimate relationships & friends) & esteem needs (feeling of accomplishment)⁣

💚Self-fulfillment needs: achieving one’s full potential, including creative activities ⁣

What needs of yours are met? Which ones aren’t?⁣

In Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication (NVC) framework, some basic needs we have are:⁣

💚Autonomy (being in charge of your own life)⁣

💚Celebration ⁣


💚Interdependence ⁣

💚Physical Nurturing⁣


💚Spiritual Communion⁣

NVC goes on to say that our feelings can be indicators of whether or not our needs are met:⁣

💚Feelings when needs are fulfilled:⁣

Amazed, comfortable, confident, energetic, hopeful, inspired, curious, joyous, optimistic, surprised, touched, trustful⁣

💚Feelings when needs are NOT fulfilled:⁣

Angry, annoyed, confused, disappointed, embarrassed, distressed, frustrated, helpless, hopeless, lonely, nervous, overwhelmed, sad, uncomfortable⁣

Tony Robbins in Awaken the Giant Within describes needs as a constant striving to balance between these needs:⁣

💚Need for certainty v. need for uncertainty/variety⁣

💚Need to feel unique v. need to connect⁣

💚Need to grow self v. need to impact world beyond self⁣

If you can’t pinpoint what needs you have, I find it helpful to work backwards from your feelings (⬆️) and then explore these lists of needs to help figure out the issue that deserves more attention. ⁣

How can YOU meet these needs for YOU rather than waiting for someone or something else to meet them?⁣


How can you stop feeling shame or guilt around addressing your needs at all?⁣

💚This stuff is my JAM. DM me if you’re clueless or curious to know more.💚

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