Reality Check: The Most Basic Need of All

In recent columns, I’ve explored four of the five basic needs that Dr. Glasser suggested are common to all of us.
Among those needs is the need for love and belonging. We need to know that we are not alone in this world; that someone cares about us. We also have a need for freedom; to feel we are not constrained or confined.
Our need for fun might be a surprising one, but it exists nevertheless, motivating us to laugh; to find joy in life. And there’s a need for some form of power, which might manifest itself in counter-productive relationship-destroying ways, or it could motivate us to accomplish and achieve constructive recognition.
The remaining need, in my opinion, is the most basic need of all. It’s what Glasser calls survival and it’s also associated with security. Humans are motivated to survive. We want to feel secure, protected. If we believe our very survival is at stake, other needs fade in importance.
Yet even in this very basic need, different people have different perceptions of risk and security. Differences can create conflict, but they don’t have to. What matters is how we deal with them.
For example, consider a couple where one person has a very strong need for security. The other has a stronger need for fun. Imagine the possibilities! One partner wants to skydive in the mountains. What risk? It’ll be fun! The other wants a backup generator and an emergency food kit.
If the relationship is important to both, then negotiating those differences is also important. Asking, “What will it take for you to feel secure?” could help get the conversation started.
In this complicated world of instant communication, we hear about threats that weren’t even imagined in earlier years. Every interaction, every news story, every development can be perceived as impending doom. Drama makes news, grabs our attention, fuels our fear.
We can never eliminate all possibilities for vulnerability. We cannot make ourselves invincible. However, we can choose to separate what is under our control from what is most assuredly not.
For example, we can’t control the state of the world, no matter how much we worry and fret over it. But we can make reasonable personal choices about exercise, food and the products we buy.
We can’t control people in other nations who seem to be putting themselves and others at risk. But we can make an effort to offer connection, reassurance and belonging to people around us who may be in need of that.
We can’t control the news or other people’s opinions, but at least to some degree, we can choose the influences and information that we allow into our lives. We can make prudent choices about our time, our money, and the people we associate with.
Many of us will pass through different circumstances in our lives. That can include hard times where we feel defeated, in pain, alone, where we see little hope for a brighter future ahead. If we can’t satisfy our survival need, it could be tempting to choose the perspective of, “I just don’t care.”
However, remember that life can also include times of joy and celebration—when we are gifted with people who care about us and we see that we do have some control over the shape of our future. Life can be good.
What does it take for you to feel secure?

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