The Cycle of Satisfying Our Needs

· July 5, 2017

Needs are like small alarms which appear within me so that I may satisfy them. Once I have satisfied them I feel complete, fulfilled and calm. And then I can move on and resolve other needs as they present themselves. For our mental, physical and emotional health, it’s essential for us to listen to these needs, to identify and channel them. If we don’t, physical disorders and psychological issues appear in most cases.

There are many types of needs: physiological, existential, emotional… and all of them refer to something important for us. They are our alarms of authenticity, so to speak.  Needs are intimately linked to our true essence, and that is the reason we must be able to identify them in order to resolve them.

But since we, as humans, are a little complicated sometimes, we will make sure to cut off certain parts of the cycle of satisfying our needs. We will also pretend to be deaf to those alarms, or we will complete it halfway because we don’t know how to separate ourselves from that object which helps us satisfy it…

Resisting keeps us from satisfying many of our needs

There are many ways of not completing this cycle, and all of them have to do with resistance and fears which stop us from doing what we truly need to do. We cannot deny our nature, nor can we ignore that, sometimes, there are needs we want to fulfill but social conventions or ethical standards will curb our attempts.

woman looking out to the sea

That is how complex we are as human beings. There is an intense and primitive “animal instinct” within us which we cannot deny. And there are ethics and a morality which underlie in a great part of our culture that we cannot ignore either. We must manage ourselves in that balance, without fooling ourselves. Knowing when we are slowing down for one reason or another.

Complicated? It is an interesting way of listening to ourselves with complete honesty. And also of seeing how our decisions are influenced by many different reasons.  Reasons that, as I was saying before, might go from pure animal instinct to a cultural motive.


The cycle of the satisfaction of necessities is composed of 7 continuous stages:

1. Sensation

This first stage is the perception of an unbalance. Thus, our bodies need to get that balance back to be able to satisfy ourselves. An example of this could be when our stomachs make sounds out of hunger, or simply when we feel a strange sensation which alerts us, so we keep an eye on it.

2. Awareness

When we become aware of that sensation, we identify our necessity. Following the previous example, I become aware of the noises my stomach is making, and therefore I know I am hungry. Oh, I see! My stomach was making noises, because I am hungry. Or setting another example, we realize we feel alone, and we need contact with one of our loved ones…

woman hugging pillow on the couch

3. Energizing

Once I have identified and become aware of my need, I can move on to the next step. I can start moving. My body is filled with that energy which makes me move to do something important for myself. Oh, I’m so hungry! Then I can go to the kitchen. Or, if in the other example we became aware of our need for contact with other people, now we can figure out which people we want to contact and that mobilizing energy is going to help us take the next step.

4. Action

In this stage, once we are activated to perform the action, we are ready to carry it out. We are aware of what we need, and we are going to remedy it. We make up our minds and call our friend, since he is the person we want to contact.

5. Contact

With the contact, we can finally satisfy our need. If we were hungry and we went to the kitchen to eat that one thing which is going to calm our hunger, now is when we can finally eat it. Now is also the moment when we can talk to our friend and have that conversation we needed. We are aware that this contact is easing our loneliness for a moment.

6. Realization

In this phase, we enjoy the contact we have obtained. Here we enjoy the taste of the experience we just lived. I have finally achieved what my body was asking me for, and I feel satisfied by that. It is a moment of joy. A moment of pleasure for having been able to accomplish what I was longing for. It feels so good to talk to you, my friend!

7. Withdrawal

After this wonderful experience which has been so nourishing for me, I retreat. I need to rest from that contact. I say goodbye to my friend. Then, I say goodbye to that situation which has given me so much joy and peace. But, how complicated it sometimes is to separate oneself from that which has made us feel fulfilled. To separate from that person who has filled our voids…

woman walking barefoot down a road

As you can see, in every single one of these 7 steps, I can face troubles, and at the same time, I can break the full cycle without finishing it. Why would I do this? Due to fears, the anticipation of catastrophes, to having deeply rooted beliefs about “how things must get done”, to ethical or cultural issues, among other reasons.

The most important thing is to be aware of those needs we all have, and which in many cases have to do with love (that vital need of establishing a relationship with another human being, in which we give and receive tenderness…), security (a lack of security produces in us sensations like fear, anguish and anxiety, which must be heard) and with freedom (a lack of liberty makes us feel angry, makes us feel like we are tied up…).

Due to all of this, as you can probably appreciate, satisfying our needs is not a simple whim. It is all about protecting ourselves. Especially when we are talking about a lack of love, security and freedom. So let’s not pretend we are deaf when facing one of those sensations! That way, we can start the cycle and perform it in its entirety.