Posted by: Lea | April 2, 2009

Our Needs

Today’s post is by Ian Peatey, the author of Quantum Learning. I’m honored to have Ian here on Ocean Of Perspectives; his articles contain a lot of wisdom and I read them regularly. You might say, Ian is one of my mentors.

Playing our own tune

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Gandhi

This quote sums up my approach to life. My aspired approach to life, that is.
I’ve still got some way to go as the truth is, at the age of 45, I’m still unlearning a lot of accumulated rubbish from my first 35 years.

This stuff is not deep, painful, unusual or traumatic. Sometimes, I think it might be easier to deal with if it was. It’s all regular, everyday beliefs about how the world, society and I function. There’s nothing extreme or extraordinary there.

For example, I believed that science, logic and rationality rule. That mind and thought is King! I imagined once I left college I would be fully equipped to deal with the world. I knew how the world worked.

I was brought up on a middle-class path of a steady job, slow but regular promotion, saving for retirement, marrying my childhood sweetheart and buying a small house and car (big enough for a family). It was a well worn path trod by my parents, their parents before them and pretty much everyone I knew. Choosing another way never entered my head.

“Live as if you have many more years ahead of you. Learn to pass exams and then forget it all.” Peatey

In 2001, I was presented with an incredibly simple idea that changed my life.

This idea was the start of the answer to questions I’d been failing to ask myself, but were lurking under the surface creating an underlying existential dissatisfaction.

The idea wasn’t anything new or weird. I’d even studied it at college, though I’d not been encouraged to think about it beyond a theory of human behavior to be learned for exams (which I passed by the way).

At the risk of sounding like some New Age Salesperson I’d like to say how it changed my life:


• I started to understand the dynamic flow of who I am as a human being. Never static. Always changing. I am unique.
• I discovered my inner power, my engine. Deep, rich and full of potential.
• I felt my connection to every other human being on the planet. I am part of the human race. I am not unique.
I started to sense my connection to the soul of the universe, God, the Source (whatever word works for you)

A very simple idea

I have ‘needs’

It was really that simple – and that profound!

If the word ‘need’ doesn’t speak to you, then try ‘values’.

I studied Maslow’s theory of needs at college and intellectually it made sense. He said we have sets of needs arranged in a hierarchy with Physiological needs at the bottom and Self-Actualization at the top (with Safety, Love/Belonging and Esteem in between). My understanding of his theory (which may not be his understanding!) was that the hierarchy is fixed and I move up between levels as I mature and my living conditions change. Once I’ve reached a higher level I’ll stay there unless I temporarily regress due to changed conditions.

The idea that changed my life was similar but with a crucial difference.

Needs are not static and to be studied, but are dynamic and to be lived.

It was introduced to me by Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of Nonviolent Communication. You can find his list of needs here, as an example. His approach raised several questions:

• What if needs are not arranged in a hierarchy but are within me all the time?
• What if they are in a constant state of ebb and flow?
• What if the feelings I experience are signals about my needs?

Consider an orchestra, with my needs as the instruments and my feelings as the music.

The instruments are often hidden yet they play a unique tune of my own composition. If I choose to listen!

All the instruments are present at all times, sometimes playing together, at other times a solo piece. If not attended to, an instrument may become louder or discordant. When handled just right, they sing out beautiful and joyful music.

For example, right now I’m filled with the note of joy when I imagine you reading this. It’s created by my needs (the instrument) for sharing and contribution (to peace and tolerance). I’m also feeling a little nervous coming from the need of understanding. (I have no feedback yet, so I can’t check if my writing is clear). And I’m a little thirsty and that’s my need for sustenance playing a side tune.

This is right now. In a few moments everything will change and I’ll be playing a different tune.

So what?

I grew up learning that needs were often a lack of something, or a sign of weakness. Being a ‘needy’ person was not a positive thing. So for me it was a huge revelation to redefine needs as my inner resources, as my strength not my weakness.

Without them I cannot experience life.

Aligning needs, thoughts, emotions and actions gives an amazing integrity, clarity and inner power. When I have inner alignment I feel my connection to the Source of all things. I sense I’m part of something bigger.

Needs are at the core of everything I do and the bridge between me and you and all human kind.
We all need food, water, safety, respect, understanding, freedom, autonomy, community, meaning etc. etc.. We share the same needs and they bind us together.

Whenever we think we have different needs, or that our needs are in conflict, they are not needs. We must look deeper to find what sits underneath. When we find our needs, there is no conflict and no fighting. We can see the beauty in each other.

When I’m connected with my needs I’m living here and now and I’m constantly learning. Life is ever changing, so how could I possibly stop exploring it?

Here is the link again for Quantum Learning

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Responses

  1. A very interesting article and also another love of mine as well.

  2. A very interesting article and also another love of mine as well.

  3. This was great. It was really personal too as I followed a similar journey. Thanks for the link to Quantum Learning.

  4. This was great. It was really personal too as I followed a similar journey. Thanks for the link to Quantum Learning.

  5. Nice article Ian, great to find you over here as well. I can’t use the word need like you do without disconnnecting but values works for me like you suggest. Using that I can see the substance to this technique and how looking at values in life definitely changes. I think that we actually develop our values as we progress and while the core items may not change, they definitely grow to be expected at a different level. My values today have more impact and meaning then the same words for them did a few years ago.

  6. Nice article Ian, great to find you over here as well. I can’t use the word need like you do without disconnnecting but values works for me like you suggest. Using that I can see the substance to this technique and how looking at values in life definitely changes. I think that we actually develop our values as we progress and while the core items may not change, they definitely grow to be expected at a different level. My values today have more impact and meaning then the same words for them did a few years ago.

  7. I love the look and feel of your site here. Awesome.

    found you through twitter my link there is http://www.Twitter.com/DarrenGibson

  8. I love the look and feel of your site here. Awesome.

    found you through twitter my link there is http://www.Twitter.com/DarrenGibson

  9. Hi All

    Thank you all for the comments! This particular topic means a lot to me, so it’s wonderful to hear that it resonates with some of you as well.

    @Mike well, it’s great to see you over here as well! We’re probably talking about the same thing. I have a slightly different perspective, that it is our awareness of our values (or needs) changing, rather than the values themselves. The way Rosenberg defines (and how I’m using them in this post) needs is that they are universal i.e. all human beings share them. Our awareness of them, how we experience them and what we do with them may differ in degree and texture, but the substance is the same.

    You and I share the need of, say, ‘beauty’ as one universal value. The extent to which we both notice beauty, and in what we notice beauty may well be very different and that may change over time as our awareness develops and as our tastes change. But the quality, the need, the value ‘beauty’ is universal and constant.

    As a side comment, I find it fascinating how our associations with particular words often connect us or disconnect us to the underlying meanings. I struggled with the word ‘needs’ as well.

  10. Hi All

    Thank you all for the comments! This particular topic means a lot to me, so it’s wonderful to hear that it resonates with some of you as well.

    @Mike well, it’s great to see you over here as well! We’re probably talking about the same thing. I have a slightly different perspective, that it is our awareness of our values (or needs) changing, rather than the values themselves. The way Rosenberg defines (and how I’m using them in this post) needs is that they are universal i.e. all human beings share them. Our awareness of them, how we experience them and what we do with them may differ in degree and texture, but the substance is the same.

    You and I share the need of, say, ‘beauty’ as one universal value. The extent to which we both notice beauty, and in what we notice beauty may well be very different and that may change over time as our awareness develops and as our tastes change. But the quality, the need, the value ‘beauty’ is universal and constant.

    As a side comment, I find it fascinating how our associations with particular words often connect us or disconnect us to the underlying meanings. I struggled with the word ‘needs’ as well.

  11. I understand what you mean, Ian. Actually what differs humans from animals is the need to know and I do believe it’s the mother of all needs yet such needs move in a dynamic process as you mentioned because we live within a dynamic space full of energy, aura, whatever people name it.

  12. I understand what you mean, Ian. Actually what differs humans from animals is the need to know and I do believe it’s the mother of all needs yet such needs move in a dynamic process as you mentioned because we live within a dynamic space full of energy, aura, whatever people name it.

  13. Ian,

    I have never thought about it in this way before, but it makes perfect sense to me.

    We are all the same, so our needs are all the same. And this is true even when there is seeming distance between us.

    If we really understand this, there is no tendency towards violence.

  14. Ian,

    I have never thought about it in this way before, but it makes perfect sense to me.

    We are all the same, so our needs are all the same. And this is true even when there is seeming distance between us.

    If we really understand this, there is no tendency towards violence.

  15. Great post Ian,

    I am here because I had some free time to catch up and found my way here from your site.

    I always had more pressure on me about neediness being weakness. So tuffen up 🙂

    This reaction bothered me more 10 years ago then now so maturity helps.

    Cheers

  16. Great post Ian,

    I am here because I had some free time to catch up and found my way here from your site.

    I always had more pressure on me about neediness being weakness. So tuffen up 🙂

    This reaction bothered me more 10 years ago then now so maturity helps.

    Cheers

  17. @Hicham We all have slightly different names for all these things, but at the core they are all the same. We share the same humanity (though it’s not always easy to see it!).

    @Michael I agree. When we can find that point of connection between us then there is no violence only understanding. More than that, there’s no separation!

    @Bunny You had some free time? I’m flattered you decided to choose to spend part of it with me! I think I’m pretty tough, in fact. Helps to be connected with that inner strength and maturity sure plays a part in that!

    Thanks to everyone for their comments

  18. @Hicham We all have slightly different names for all these things, but at the core they are all the same. We share the same humanity (though it’s not always easy to see it!).

    @Michael I agree. When we can find that point of connection between us then there is no violence only understanding. More than that, there’s no separation!

    @Bunny You had some free time? I’m flattered you decided to choose to spend part of it with me! I think I’m pretty tough, in fact. Helps to be connected with that inner strength and maturity sure plays a part in that!

    Thanks to everyone for their comments


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