© Rosemary Bardsley 2009, 2014

There are times and situations in which we feel ‘out of sync’. Uncomfortable. Like something is ‘wrong’. We feel disempowered - like we cannot function properly, like we cannot do what we know we are actually able to do.  Other people seem to be coping okay, enjoying themselves, feeling fulfilled, but not us.

This may be because of unrealistic perceptions and expectations, which will be discussed in a later study.

It may also be because some of our basic personal psychological and emotional needs are not being met.



As with any self ‘analysis’ there is a degree of subjectivity and the danger of locking oneself into a box. We should therefore view knowing our personal emotional needs not as something that binds us into a set of predetermined reactions but as one among many ‘tools’ by which we can understand ourselves and others - why we and they act the way we do, why we feel better in some situations than in others, and why we should not expect everyone to enjoy or feel comfortable in the same situations as we ourselves do.

An awareness of personal needs helps us to live with and act towards others with compassion, acceptance and understanding. It also helps us to understand why we feel better with some people than with others … they could possibly be the people who knowingly or unknowingly support us in our dominant areas of personal needs.

At another level we should not use our awareness of our own personal needs as an excuse to disobey God’s clear commands. Rather they should make us aware of our fragile and vulnerable points where we are more likely to fail or to avoid involvement, and to seek the Lord’s help to strengthen us in these areas.

At a deeper level, as we grow in our knowledge of Christ and his salvation, we realize more and more that our deepest ‘needs’ are met in him – he is the ‘bread of life’ and the ‘living water’. To follow him is to be eternally and completely satisfied, even now as we live moment by moment, irrespective of whether or not our ‘personality needs’ are being met.



These ‘needs’ are what we need to feel okay, to feel good, and to function to our maximum potential. Just as we have physiological needs - food, air, water, clothing, shelter – which have to be met for us to feel good physically and function well, we also have emotional or psychological needs, which have to be met to make us feel good as a person and to function at our max. These include:

We do not feel or express all of our needs to the same degree; in other words, we differ from one another in the areas in which our ‘needs’ are highest and lowest. This section will focus on four common areas of where people have ‘strong’ or ‘high’ emotional or psychological needs which must be met for them to function well. If we have high needs in a certain area it will be difficult for us to understand someone who has low needs in that area. Conversely if we have ‘low’ needs in a given area we will find it difficult to understand why some people can’t function well unless those needs are met.



C.1 High recognition needs

Some of us function best when our ‘recognition’ needs are met:

Obviously some of these ‘needs’ are expressions of our sinful natures and our alienation from God; others are part of our God-given personality and natural talents. Note also, that the ‘high recognition needs’ person will tend to feel ‘flat’ or unmotivated if approval and recognition are absent. On the other hand, a person with low recognition needs will feel grossly uncomfortable in the contexts and situations referred to above.

Complete Section #1 in the Study Six Worksheet now.


C.2 High social needs

Some of us function best when our social needs are met:

People with high social needs find it difficult to understand how a person with low social needs can be happy just staying at home doing quiet things like reading, gardening or craft, or working alone on a project. They sometimes act as though there is something wrong or immature with such people, and will try to badger them into joining in social activities. Conversely a person with low social needs is likely to opt out of group activities and miss out on both Christian fellowship and involvement in Christian service, especially where group interaction is demanded.

Again, there are characteristics of high social needs people that are expressions of the sinful nature, and there are aspects that are part of their God-given personality and talents.

Complete Section #2 in the Study Six Worksheet now.

C.3 High security needs

Some of us function best when our security needs are met:

Complete Section #3 in the Study Six Worksheet now.

C.4 High Achievement Needs

Some of us function best when our achievement needs are met:

Complete Section #4 in the Study Six Worksheet now.


An awareness of these personal needs helps us to understand ourselves and each other and to anticipate and prevent some personal and inter-personal difficulties.

It warns us not to put ourselves down when we do not feel comfortable doing things that others seem to do easily.

It helps us not to expect the same of everyone, and to work towards helping people in the areas that are not naturally easy for them.

We will know not to expect everyone to like the same kinds of youth programs or social activities.

We will know that when we seem to have different attitudes to a proposed event that difference may stem from different personal needs.

We will also learn to adapt our own preferences so that the needs of others are also being met.

We will allow people their private space, and hope that they will also in turn allow us social interaction.

We will allow people to get involved in what we see as frightening activities, and we will hope that they in turn will allow us room to be cautious.

In doing so we will fulfil the biblical commands to look after and bear with other people, and to let their needs have preference over our own. We will also be wary of loading unrealistic perceptions or expectations onto ourselves and others.

‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ’ [Galatians 6:2].

‘Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others’ [Philippians 2:4].

‘Bear with each other …’ [Colossians 3:13].