What Do You Need

What Do You Need? How Are You Meeting Your Needs?

I wonder how much happier we might be if we were in intimate touch with our needs. A fellow user of nonviolent communication in England picked up on a suggestion that people write in a daily chart or notebook which needs of theirs were met each day. When I thought about it, it seemed related to gratitude journals, where 1-5 things we are grateful for are noted each day. I’d never considered the relationship between need fulfillment and gratitude before. But I have thought how often we humans seem dissatisfied with, or resigned to, some aspect of our lives. Perhaps if we could see on paper the needs that were being met, we’d realize we could describe ourselves as happy now.

For instance, I had two conversations the other day of about an hour each. I felt very animated and engaged because we were discussing NVC, Walsch’s Conversations with God, and some concepts I’ve learned in Systems Design classes this past year. Just now, I am looking through the needs list below. For me, to be able to articulate the sources of my aliveness adds to my pleasure. So I’m noticing the needs that were met in those two discussions: meaning, contribution to life enrichment, understanding, inspiration, delight, communion, stimulation, aliveness and mutuality.

If I had felt at the end of a day I’d not accomplished as much as I’d hoped, seeing the needs that were met would probably lead to contentment and peace instead of sadness and disappointment. I hope you’ll get as much stimulation and awareness as I do when you are able to identify how many of your needs are being met on an ongoing basis. An example—a new roomer, who is also a friend, was talking about wanting her things out in common areas, and I was trying to understand her needs, which weren’t the same as mine. When she said “To influence my environment,” for some reason, that clarity helped me let go of concerns I had about the changes I was seeing around me. I needed understanding, and I got it.

I don’t at all mean to turn this awareness of needs into a teaching lesson, but I find it helpful to realize how varied people’s needs are. It’s a bit like being a detective of my and others’ needs. When I am not clear about my own or another’s needs, Rosenberg’s description of basic needs that follows (with permission) is very helpful.


To choose one’s dreams, goals, values, (Self-) empowerment

To choose one’s plan for fulfilling one’s dreams, goals, values

Individuality Solitude Privacy


To celebrate the creation of life and dreams fulfilled

To celebrate losses: loved ones, dreams, etc. (mourning)

Aliveness, Pleasure, Delight, Play, Communion


Authenticity, Creativity Self-worth,Meaning ,Purpose, Values


Acceptance, Appreciation, Closeness, Connection, Community, Consideration, Contribution to Life, Enrichment Acknowledgement, Companionship, Emotional safety, Empathy, Honesty, Love, Reassurance, Respect, Dependability, Support, Understanding, Trust ,Warmth, Communication, Reliability, Relaxation, Being liked, Being heard/seen, Intimacy Emotional freedom, Recognition, Giving, Serving, Oneness, Security, Equality/Balance, Mutuality, Belonging, Inclusion, Nurturance, Compassion


Stimulation, Clarity, Awareness, Excitement, Reflection, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom, Challenge, Experience


Accomplishment, Capability, Self-Reliance, Mastery, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Need to affect one’s environment


Air, Food, Water, Movement/exercise, Rest, Sexual expression, Shelter, Touch, Affection, Caring, Relief from fear and cares, Comfort, Tenderness, Safety, Bonding, Protection from life threatening situations


Creativity, Growth, Mastery, Healing, Teaching, Goals to generate/to create To be causal/to produce


Beauty/Aesthetic,s Harmony, Inspiration, Order, Peace, Grace, Being/beingness

Some feelings we have when our needs are not being met:

Angry, Annoyed, Confused, Disappointed, Discouraged, Distressed, Embarrassed, Helpless, Hopeless, Impatient, Irritated, Lonely, Nervous, Overwhelmed, Puzzled, Reluctant, Sad, Uncomfortable

Some feelings when our needs are being met:

Amazed, Comfortable, Confident, Eager, Energetic, Fulfilled, Glad, Hopeful, Inspired, Intrigued, Joyous, Moved, Optimistic, Proud, Relieved, Stimulated, Surprised, Thankful, Touched, Trustful

Source: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.

© Marshall Rosenberg , 2003

Lists of feelings and needs are at https://www.cnvc.org/Training/needs-inventory.

You would also enjoy NVC trainer Kelly Bryson’s Don’t be Nice; be Real. NVC is the best way I know to lovingly connect with yourself and others.