Needs are the Heart of NVC

We all share the same universal needs and needs are the windows into our shared humanity. All actions are people trying to get their needs met – such as water, food, consideration, connection, community, belonging, care etc. Needs live within us at the energetic level.

NVC invites us to hold our mutual needs as precious. It’s important to note that we are not suggesting that you give up on your needs as this builds resentment and disconnection.

When we connect at the level of the needs, this opens our hearts to our shared humanity. This opens a door into a place of commonality, connection and understanding. When we are in touch with our heart’s longing (needs) and the another’s hearts yearnings (needs) there is no conflict. There is only conflict at the strategy level. We aspire to get our needs met in harmony with someone else and not at the expense of someone else.

When we understand that our behaviors are an attempt to meet our needs, we can become more skilled at choosing behaviors that will help us succeed at this. This is not from a place of manipulation, it is from a place of honoring your needs and holding them lightly. If you are challenged in finding the needs – connect to the WHY?

  • Why is this important to you?
  • How would this contribute to you if it were met
  • If that need was met, what would this do for you?

We Were Connected to Our Needs as Children

I believe many of our painful unconscious messages come from the time before we were seven years old.  We came into the world knowing what we wanted as infants and connected to our needs, yet we were often met with “No, no no!” The repeated denial of our needs as young children is a traumatic experience which often translates into some version of core beliefs: “Something is wrong with me,” “I am not lovable,” “I am not worthy,” “I don’t matter.” These beliefs are often blanketed with self-blame and SHAME for wanting what we want. This thread of  “I am not okay,” “I don’t matter,” and “It’s not okay to have needs,” is woven through the fabric of our families, society and culture.

Most of us were raised  in this model of domination rather than collaboration and because we tell ourselves that our needs don’t matter and therefore we don’t matter, we often end up not even knowing WE HAVE NEEDS.

If we lack a grounding in the awareness of our needs, we are missing a key tool in addressing stress in our lives.


The following list of human needs is neither exhaustive nor definitive. It is meant as a starting place to support anyone who wishes to engage in a process of deepening self-discovery and to facilitate greater understanding and connection between people. We also have a list of human feelings. See the nav bar above or Click Here.

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