Meeting your emotional and spiritual needs forms the foundation of good mental health. The premise is simple: when needs are met your life is working well and you feel good. When unmet, you feel anything but.
In this article we’ll explore ways to firstly identify unmet needs that cause stress in your life. Then we’ll look at some of the things you can do to start to meet both your emotional and spiritual needs.
And by spiritual, I’m not talking about organised religion but more about personal evolution and how you perceive yourself and the world around you.
- Everyday problems and existential crises
- The real meaning of spirituality
- The drive toward enlightenment
- The merging of two separate approaches
- Refining perceptions of reality
- What are emotional needs?
- What are spiritual needs?
- How to assess your needs: do an emotional needs audit
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Everyday problems and existential crises
When I started out as a therapist over 20 years ago, most people I treated had the typical everyday problems associated with visiting a hypnotherapist; they wanted to stop smoking, lose weight, or overcome a phobia.
Over the last decade I’ve noticed that more and more of my clients want to resolve what might be termed a spiritual crisis; a lack of meaning or purpose in life, feelings of dissociation, and a loss of connection to one’s True Self.
As Dante wrote in his 14th century epic, The Divine Comedy, “Midway upon the road of my life, I found myself in a dark wood, for the right way had been lost.”
Those words ring true for so many of us, even hundreds of years after they were written, because they highlight a stage we all go through. It is part of the human condition.
Maybe it’s your turn to feel lost in a ‘dark wood’ right now? Rest assured, there is a way out…
The real meaning of spirituality
The thing is that, for lasting change and transformation, we need to find the ‘right way’, to get back on our rightful path. And this, to my mind, means that we need to address both our emotional and spiritual needs.
So, let’s firstly take a moment and figure out what we mean by the term ‘spiritual’…
To my mind, spirituality isn’t about praying or reading scriptures or going to church once a week to listen to a sermon or sing hymns. Neither is it about attending a retreat or going on a pilgrimage once a year.
These things might all contain elements of spirituality, for sure. But as far as I see it, spirituality is more about having direct experiences rather than reading scriptures or relying on faith alone.
When you are purposefully working on yourself, enquiring into the very nature of consciousness (and who you are) you can be said to be working spiritually.
True spirituality is about refining your perceptions of reality so that you are more enabled to have direct experiences of pure consciousness, unfettered by your own conditioning and prejudices.
The drive toward enlightenment
It seems that in our very DNA there is the seed of Nirvana. The purpose of life, as I see it, is about nurturing that seed.
A.H. Almaas points out in his book, The Alchemy of Freedom, that we are programmed not only with a sex drive but also an ‘enlightenment drive’. Enlightenment is an experience of pure consciousness, or what Ken Wilber refers to as ‘unity consciousness’. The Sufis call it the ‘supreme identity’.
Life really is a quest to free yourself from the emotional attachments and conditionings from the past so that you can become who you really are.
And in so doing, you expand your consciousness and are then in a more favourable position to have a direct experience with a larger reality. In the west this is often referred to as God. In the east, Brahman or the Tao.
The merging of two separate approaches
After my own spiritual awakening experience in 2010 where I felt a sense of Oneness with All That Is, my approach to hypnotherapy naturally evolved.
I now merge both solution-focused and transpersonal therapy to meet your emotional and spiritual needs.
So, let’s take a quick look at these two approaches…
Solution focused therapy…
This is mostly (but not always) brief in duration with an emphasis on the here and now. Its focus is on meeting your emotional needs and developing your resources and skills to help you make changes in the present and work toward future goals.
You won’t spend hours trawling through your past like in the old days of psychoanalysis.
Transpersonal (or spiritual) therapy
Transpersonal (the word simply means ‘beyond yourself’) therapy aims firstly to re-awaken your soul and then connect up to a larger reality.
Once your soul is re-awakened you’re in a much more favourable position to connect up to something beyond yourself.
Having a connection to something outside and beyond yourself can help you find greater meaning in life. It can also help lift you out of self-absorbed ‘ego’ trance states like depression, anxiety, and addictions.
Meeting emotional needs will often solve your everyday problems. Meeting spiritual needs helps you refine your model of reality, leading to profound and lasting changes.
Your many human needs…are living apart from your divine sacred space. Your call is to let these two parts of yourself come together again.Henri J.M. Nouwen – The Inner Voice of Love
Refining perceptions of reality
As Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell point out in their ground-breaking 2004 book, The Human Givens – a new approach to emotional health and clear thinking, “We cannot develop more refined perceptions without fulfilling more basic human needs and appetites first…”
This is why I combine the two types of therapy: solution-focused to help meet your emotional needs, and transpersonal to help meet your spiritual needs so that you can change your model of reality.
What are emotional needs?
The premise is that if emotional needs are unmet, you are likely to suffer distress. Unmet needs raise your stress levels which puts the more primitive, emotional brain in control, influencing how you feel, think and behave – often irrationally and impulsively.
List of emotional needs…
- Safety and security at home, work, school, in your neighbourhood
- To give and receive attention
- To feel a sense of control and autonomy in your life
- Emotional connection to others
- A sense of belonging in your community
- A feeling of status and/or recognition
- To feel competent in at least one area of your life (which helps raise self-esteem)
- To keep learning and achieving new things (to have goals that stretch and challenge you in a positive way)
What are spiritual needs?
The soul – that resides deep in all of us – is the core of our being and, once awakened, firstly brings us home to our True-Selves and then links us up to a greater reality.
List of spiritual needs:
- Time alone for quiet reflection; time and space to simply BE
- Connection to nature; to spend time outdoors
- Creativity; to make things
- Meaning and purpose in your life
- To be authentic; to be your True Self
- Provide service to others; to get out of ‘ego-consciousness’ and into a more compassionate ‘soul consciousness’
- To have a connection to something larger than oneself; religious/spiritual/philosophical beliefs etc. that connect you in some way to a bigger reality, something beyond yourself
It is when we address both our emotional and spiritual needs that real, lasting change occurs. Our model of reality shifts, our ‘ground of being’ moves from ego to soul. We operate from a different state of consciousness, more authentic and more connected to All That Is.
From an expanded state of consciousness, problems are seen from a totally new perspective. You’re no longer sucked in by old emotional issues from the past.
You’re calmer and more present because your ‘ground of being’ is based in the here and now. You feel more alive to life as it happens. You’re finally showing up in the world.
How to assess your needs: do an emotional needs audit
So, how well are your emotional and spiritual needs being met right now?
If you’re stressed, anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed by other emotions it’s a sure sign that some need is currently not met.
You can easily identify which needs are unmet by doing an emotional needs audit…
The audit below will give you an accurate assessment of what unmet needs might be triggering your symptoms. Hit the ‘download’ button below, save to your device and then you’ll be able to mark the pdf with your scores…
Once you’ve assessed your needs (and if some are unmet), it’s time for action…
Check out this hypnosis download that will program your subconscious mind to find creative and healthy ways to meet your emotional needs.
Or if you’d prefer one-to-one online or in-person therapy find out more about a Free Discovery Session.
Here are the books mentioned in this article that you might like to check out…
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