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Just as the physical body needs to be kept fit and healthy, so our emotional body also has maintenance needs if it is to be kept fit and healthy. We can easily spend 15% – 25% of our time meeting our emotional needs, and for some people their whole life is nothing more than meeting physical and emotional demands.
Caring and Affection – this is more important for some people than others, but we all need some level of social contact with friends and/or family. Whilst some people think they need to be loved, the underlying need is actually to love and care for other people. Whether they love you or not in return is less important than feeling and giving love to others – expressing love for others has a beneficial and healthy affect on the physical body.
Acceptance, belonging, participation – again, this is more or less important for some people compared to others, but most do need to interact socially with other people. Whether through work, sports, clubs, groups, voluntary work, gangs, etc. We do not like being left out or ignored, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved through a wide range of activities.
Fun and relaxation – life cannot be all work or all about looking after others. Relaxation activities vary widely. For some people it is sports or jogging, for others it is gossiping over a drink in the pub, or sitting at home watching television or reading a good book. It is all about de-stressing and chilling out. An hour a day of relaxation is a good guideline.
Need to believe in something – most people have a need to believe in something. For many this is satisfied by religion and that doesn’t have to be through church or a formal religion. It can also be satisfied by fighting for a worthwhile cause like Greenpeace, or the SPCA. Life can feel empty if there isn’t something to give it meaning.
Need for justice (if wronged) – this need may arise less frequently, but if you find yourself bullied or treated unjustly in some way or discriminated against, we have an emotional need to get justice for the wrong doing. Sometimes we see on the news a person charged for sexual offences dating back 30 years, or war crimes again committed many years ago; and we might wonder why the person bringing the charges has not “just let go“. We do not easily let go (understanding why requires knowledge of how the internal brain structures work, especially the Insular cortex) – it is an important emotional need to have these wrongs put right and closure, no matter how long ago they occurred. It requires a high degree of spiritual maturity to really forgive and forget past wrongs.