By Phyllis Moyes
Diversity is a buzzword for our day; it should be. Diversity enriches innovation and creativity, cultivates a feeling of just security, and helps every age, gender, race, or culture feel represented. But what if I told you that we (every human) have the same needs at the center of the heart? It's true! It doesn't matter who you are; everyone has Core Needs.
Look at this list. Do any or all of these resonate with your heart?
Basic Core Needs:
When Core Needs go unmet, Primary Emotions are activated. Look at this list and see if you can relate.
Examples of Primary Emotions
Primary Emotions usually set off an avalanche of Secondary Emotions. Can you relate?
Examples of Secondary Emotions
Here is a video clip created by BYUiDo.org that explains the concept well. (This video speaks about the Core Needs Model for bettering marriage but it is applicable to any relationship.)
Can I share an example with you that will help illustrate this idea better? From the time my daughter was in eighth grade and up until she graduated from high school, we had a complicated relationship. (Moms, if your child is in junior high, stop what you are doing now and hug them! Chances are, they need it.) I am grateful for hindsight because I can see the complexity of our relationship clearer now. I didn't have words for it then, but I have since realized that I wasn't angry (Secondary Emotion) with her; I was scared -- a primary emotion that came from my unmet core need for security. She was involved in a rough crowd, and they scared me. I didn't trust that her choices would keep her safe. Further, my core need for a genuine connection with her felt severed so I felt lonely (a primary emotion), which I usually expressed through the secondary emotion of anger.
For an even clearer illustration, pretend that you are hiking with your daughter when suddenly, a grizzly bear begins charging for her. Immediately, your heart starts to race; you are so scared (primary emotion). Fight or flight takes over, and you start charging for the bear, using a secondary emotion of anger. You are a warrior who will stop at nothing to save your daughter!
At that moment, what is the need? Is the need to be angry at the bear? No. The grizzly is an immediate threat to your core need of keeping your daughter safe, so there's a surge of fear (primary emotion), which triggers something inside us to fight; so we become angry and fierce.
My daughter also had unmet core needs. She was desperate for connection and security at home, but every interaction seemed hostile and contentious. Remember, I was in fear mode and expressed it through anger. She wanted to feel independent, have a sense of sovereign power, and feel respected and heard. But I was too busy feeding the worry from my own unmet needs.
Do you see the pattern? It is cyclical. We both had unmet core needs, leading to primary and secondary emotions.
I remember the day it changed -- or rather, I changed. I made a conscious effort to have ten positive exchanges for every corrective interaction. Sometimes it was hard because the fear was so great, but when I stepped back and took a breath, I could meet her core needs better. An interesting thing happened; when I met her core needs, mine seemed to follow.
As you engage your teenagers this week, ask yourself, "Which of my core needs are not being met, leading me to feel _____ (angry, anxiety, sadness, irritation, etc.?)"
And please be sure to also ask yourself -- or even your teen directly -- "Which of my child's core needs are not being met, leading them to feel ____."
My experience is that once the core needs are met, the emotions and relationship change organically.
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