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  • Writer's pictureRyan Wilson

What we all need

It’s report card time! We all have basic human needs that must be met in order f

or us to be well- let’s see how you are doing with meeting them…

  1. Safety

  2. HealthyTribe

  3. Purpose & Mastery

  4. Meaning & Legacy

  5. Creativity & Challenge


  1. This means that we feel emotionally, physically and financially safe.

  1. EMOTIONAL SAFETY means we believe our needs are as important as other people’s needs, we feel comfortable asking to have our needs met, setting healthy boundaries and enforcing them, and that we can tolerate other people being upset without needing to fix it or compromise ourselves to make them better.

  2. PHYSICAL SAFETY means we have sufficient physical health to meet the demands of our life and that we are free from threat, intimidation or violence. This also includes that we have a sacred space- a space that we feel is our own where we feel calm and at peace.

  3. FINANCIAL SAFETY means that we have work or a source of income so we feel we can provide for ourselves and our dependents and have stable housing and access to food.


Humans are a social species and we cannot be well without a healthy tribe

  1. Unfortunately if we don’t have a healthy one, we will settle for whatever tribe we have and suffer the physical and emotional consequences.

  2. A healthy tribe is one where we feel our needs are equally important to the needs of the others in our tribe and are treated as such. It is also one where we feel SEEN, HEARD and like we MATTER. Oprah once accurately commented that every conflict, argument or heated discussion we have ever had has been because we did not feel seen, heard or like we mattered. The content will vary, but the core of every argument is exactly that.

  3. In order to actually feel connected to any tribe, we have to talk about the things that matter to us- we have to have at least one relationship where we get to connect with others around parts of how we identify ourselves, or we won’t feel like we belong, even if we are surrounded by loving people.  For example, I may have great friends, but if spirituality is a big part of who I am and how I see and am in the world, if I don’t connect with people sharing those parts of me, I won’t feel very connected to others.

  4. We like people who are predictable and who we feel are easy to read, because this makes us feel safe. When others share our core beliefs or world views, we tend to feel more confident that they would have our backs should something bad happen. This is hard-wired in us as a good thing, because as resources grew more scarce and we adapted by becoming a social species, it became in-grained in us that we need each other in order to survive. This doesn’t mean we don’t associate with people who are different than us, it just stresses the importance of having at least one such relationship.

  5. This has become so imprinted that science has actually demonstrated that the expression that one can “die from loneliness” is true. We now know that loneliness and isolation are associated with immune system dysfunction, higher rates of cancer, heart disease, stroke and overall mortality. In fact, research has shown that living with air pollution increases mortality by 5%; obesity increases it by 20%; being an alcoholic increases it by 30% and loneliness increases it by 45%.


We need to have reason to get up in the morning in order to be well and we need to feel capable (this is why we often feel good when people trust us with increased responsibility)

  1. This connects to the need to be accountable and the need to feel like we are contributing to the tribe

  2. It also connects to a need to feel some degree of autonomy or independence

  3. This is part of why retirement or going on disability can cause so much distress

  4. Whether it is through work, or volunteering or being a caregiver to other people, nature or animals, how we get our purpose also often connects us to like-minded tribe (and can cause distress and problems when it doesn’t) and also often helps us feel we have some sense of safety when it also provides us with an income


As humans, we need to feel like we are contributing to something bigger than us

  1. Some people meet this need through their work (this is part of the appeal of being a workaholic), their children or their art, others meet this through spirituality or religion

  2. Sometimes we are fortunate enough that our sense of purpose is also meaningful, and sometimes there are separate. For example, I may love my work which provides me with a sense of purpose, and also find it very meaningful. I may also however, work in job because it puts food on the table, when really my sense of meaning comes from charity work I do, or from parenting etc.

  3. Both of these also often connect us to like-minded communities/ tribes, whether it is through meeting parents of other kids at playgrounds, other entrepreneurs or meeting at spiritual gatherings- these also provide us with a sense of tribe


  1. We need to create in order to be well!

  1. This can be done through creatively organizing our sacred spaces, cooking, gardening, painting, pottery, music, dance, creating community initiatives or curriculum for classes, workshops etc. How you meet this basic human need doesn’t matter, what matters is that it needs to happen!

  2. This also ties into the need to learn– we are an exceptional species in that although our period of quickest brain growth is in the first 5 yrs, our brains continue to grow and form connections throughout our life. In fact, research has shown that those of us who continue to learn and exercise our brains as we age have lower rates of memory problems and better overall health as well!

  3. The need to learn and the need to create are connected because even a single new piece of information can shift how we see the world – and the ability to integrate and connect new information to old information and use it in new ways is the same process as creativity- taking information and using it in new and different ways

Here is the catch- we need ALL of these needs to be met to be well. We will always be doing better in some areas than others, but if you are lopsided in any way, you now know what you need to work on!

It is also helpful to know that it top heavy, with safety and tribe being the most important ones to address first. If we are not able to feel safe and connected to a healthy tribe, we get stuck in a fight or flight response, which makes trying to meet our other needs much more difficult. This makes sense when we think of it in biological terms, since we are wired to focus on getting away from a lion when that system is on (old brain), rather than figure out how we will contribute to the community.

For more information about old brain, follow the link. You may also want to check out Daniel Siegle’s Hand Model of the Brain for a great 5 min visual of this concept.

So how did you do on your report card? When you look at these areas, what grade would you give yourself in each? What do you want to do about that?

As always, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email at, leave a comment on twitter @DrAdrianaWilson or on our Facebook page, www.facebook,ca/InspiredLivingMedical.LiveYourEpicLife

  or just click on the Facebook button.

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