The organising idea of Human Givens starts from what we are born with. These are the templates for our species, Nature’s endowment to each of us. These givens come in two kinds:
- The physical and emotional needs evolution has programmed into us, which seeks fulfillment through our interaction with the environment
- The resources (or tools) nature provided us with to help us get those needs met
And so, what we do every minute of the day (you could say) is to use our resources as best we can to try to get our essential emotional needs met.
And so it is very simple
Individuals are emotionally healthy when their resources are working effectively to meet needs in a balanced way. Conversely, individuals will suffer – be it from depression, anxieties, addictions or psychosis – when resources are misused or have been damaged or are overwhelmed by circumstances so that all needs are not met.
The organising idea is simple, powerful and yet so different from the models to which the majority (lay people and mental health practitioners) continue to subscribe. These models either see mental disturbance as a sickness of the brain, which can be diagnosed and treated with carefully targeted drugs or as requiring long-term insight talking therapy so to uncover the assumed hidden cause.
The Human Givens approach is that both of these ways of seeing mental problems – as illnesses or requiring long-term insight therapy – are at best flawed and at worst downright wrong.
Our essential human needs
- Security — feeling safe in an environment which allows you to develop fully
- Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition
- Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices
- Being emotionally connected to others – friendship, intimacy — knowing that at least one other person accepts you totally for who you are, warts ‘n’ all”
- Feeling part of a wider community by having connections beyond your family and close friends
- Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
- Sense of status within social groupings
- Sense of competence and achievement
- Meaning and purpose — which come from being stretched in what we do and think
Want to read more of what Essential Needs means and how to conduct your own Needs Audit? click here
Nature has endowed us with the RESOURCES to ensure we can get these needs met
- Complex long term memory, which enables us to add to our innate knowledge and learn
- The ability to build rapport, empathise and connect with others
- Imagination, which enables us to focus our attention away from our emotions and so solve problems that get our needs met
- A conscious, rational mind that can question, analyse and plan
- The ability to ‘know’ — that is, understand the world intuitively through metaphorical pattern matching
- An observing self — that part of us that can step back and be aware of itself as a unique centre of awareness
- A dreaming brain that preserves the integrity of our emotional inheritance by metaphorically defusing expectations every night that were not acted out the previous day.
Want to read more of what Resources are and how to use this knowledge to better get your needs met? click here