What you need, what you value, and the difference between the two

Let’s start with needs. Some of your basic emotional needs might be:

  • Being loved
  • Being safe, secure and certain
  • Being comfortable and experiencing pleasure
  • Feeling special
  • Having new and different experiences

You also have higher needs that may also benefit others and make you feel good and develop in some way. These can include needs like the drive to make a difference in the world.

Meeting these needs all of the time can be a tough ask, and you may pay a price. Your need to feel loved might mean you try so hard to please people that you don’t stand up for your best interests, or you may not try new things because of your need for safety.

Your higher needs like making a difference in the world might lead to better results for you, but they might also get you into trouble. For example, your desire to get a group of runners together to raise money through a charity marathon run could get you into trouble if your stronger need to feel special causes you to push noses out of joint and cause friction in the group. The good you do isn’t fully canceled out, but it does mean less pleasant results for you and others because of the way you feel you need to behave in order to get the recognition you deserve.

Your needs can steer you off course as much as they can act as a compass in your life. The trick is to recognise the needs that drive you, and to ensure that these are met by acting in accordance with your values.

Your values are the principles that are nearest and dearest to you. You’re likely to have many, and each value has a different meaning to you – for example, to be compassionate, or to provide for your loved ones, or to create wealth. However, there is one difference between your needs and values. A true value helps to drive your forward, helping you to enjoy life, develop yourself, and benefit those around you.

You might get some pleasure from sitting and watching that DVD boxed set for hours on end- we all need that escape and laughter- but it doesn’t change your horizons much. On the other hand, something more challenging – that book or film you’ve heard about – helps you to feel more fully engaged with the world around you. To be challenged – that’s your value.

Feeding only your needs takes you further into yourself so that you behave in an insular, and sometimes possibly more selfish way. When you live a life in tune with your values – your own values, not someone else’s – you often find the world a much happier place to be in. It takes time, and you don’t synch with your values overnight. But, once you start to tune into them and live your life according to them, you enjoy your life so much more you want others to experience the same feeling of alignment and happiness too. Living life in accordance with your values helps you to reach out and connect with others.

Living life in this way is not an easy task. Painful, tough decisions are part of the process. But not doing so is more painful, in ways that may not be obvious to you at first. Your body and mind will tell you more about that balance once you start to notice the signs and playing with your value control settings.

Coaching conversations can help you to identify your values and to start living a life in line with them.

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