Tao-Te-Chi - Uncovering Our Own Inner Needs

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We have all heard that we have needs and it is important that we work to fulfilling them in our own lives. This in and of itself is a great and wonderful idea. What most seem to overlook however is that we all have different needs. When we provide information only on the basic needs we seem to inhibit people from uncovering their own personal needs.

As a result we will try and give people a much better overview of the general needs then work to help find the specific ones. This is not an easy and simple journey, however always remember one important thing… no one said you have to fulfill each and every last need.

In fact, most of us will not be in a position to uncover and fulfill each and every need we have. What is most important is that we find an equilibrium or balance within our needs that makes us happy. If we can find a point somewhere within our needs that we get what is most important to us then we can at least be happy. We really do not need to become Self-Actualized when all we really want is to be safe and secure. There is nothing wrong with working to fulfill every need that we have; however it is just not required unless what we want can only be achieved by fulfilling them.

To begin we need to understand that in general there are four separate types of needs. These are Baser Needs, Common Needs, Higher Needs and Associated Needs. Baser Needs are the base needs that we require in order to simply survive and set the stage for higher needs. Common Needs are the needs that most of us spend our lives working to fulfill. Higher Needs are those generally attributed to enlightenment or higher states of consciousness. Associated Needs are special needs that inter-connect to the other needs yet are also separate from them.

Tao-Te-Chi.com Interconnected Needs Theory Picture By Devon Kirke

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As you can see from the above picture there are eleven general needs that we all have. All the needs in the rectangles are generally considered a Hierarchy; this basically means that the higher needs require that we first meet the lower ones before we can have them. This however is not entirely true.

As you can see there are three sets of rectangles. Each of these sets are connected by little lines as well as lines to the circles. It is only the rectangles that connect together that the lower needs must be met before the higher ones can be. Each set of needs is still connected to and somewhat dependant upon the other needs, however they are also separate. This interconnected yet separate nature is what makes this needs theory completely different from any of the others out there.

Before we go any further, it is vital that you understand something very important. If you try and fulfill a connected need before the lower one is fulfilled you will fail. The reason is that the higher of the needs requires the lower need. As a result you can not have the higher one till it is. This means that in order to fulfill it without the lower need met you must fulfill them together. However since the higher need can only be fulfilled "after" the lower one is then the whole thing becomes a cycle. One in which a lot of work gets put in to doing nothing… it becomes like a dog chasing it's own tail.

The reason people try and do this is that, in part, people believe that they are different and special. This means that even though this idea is not alterable, many people believe that they can do it when no one else can. Another reason for this is that because the higher need can only be fulfilled after the lower one is; then if we can fulfill the higher one it means we must already have the lower one taken care of. This is a perversion of a universal law which sadly has left many people chasing their own tails at high speeds.

The law we are referring to states "You can not do for others what you first can not do for yourself". This is important because the highest needs involve helping others fulfill their own individual needs. This law is the most abused and perverted of all universal laws for the same reason we just explained… if I can do it then I am special and don't need the lower stuff!

The reason we wanted to make note of this right away is because what we will show you next is so very easy to try and pervert. As this is about helping you to help yourself the last thing we want is for you to waste your time on lies and delusions of godhood. We want to help you find and unlock your own unique potential in this life.

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Before we explain what each of the above listed needs are we need to understand something vital about them. Most of the needs can be fulfilled from a great variety of places. They can be fulfilled from within, meaning that it comes from ourselves, they can be fulfilled by others outside of ourselves and some can be fulfilled by the perceptions we have alone. As a result it is very easy to lie to ourselves that our needs are being met or to make it so others are responsible for fulfilling them. When we do this however the needs do not get met and we go back to chasing our own tails again.

Our needs are our own… in the beginning we may need outside people to help us fulfill them. However in the end if we want to achieve the higher needs all the lower ones must be met from within; though we can certainly still have outside means to fulfill them too. In truth, the more different sources we have to fulfill each of our own needs the easier it is to fulfill them.

To begin lets look at the two Baser Needs; these are Physiological Needs and Security Based Needs. Physiological Needs are those things directly needed by our bodies simply to survive. These include food, shelter, warmth and others. Without these needs we die… plain and simple. Security Based Needs go hand in hand with our survival needs in that we also need them to survive. These however are needs such as being free from direct physical harm, emotional security, a sense of freedom and the like.

In most cases these needs must all be met before we can begin to tackle the others; however, that is not always true. There are times when we can be working on a higher need even when these lower ones are not being met. The problem is not that we cannot work on them; it is that we may not be able to survive for long without them being met.

This is important to know because there are people like the stereotypical "starving artist" who can not meet their baser needs yet can still pursue their art. The reason for this is that for these specific people the needs being satisfied by pursuing their art is far more important than mere survival. This is not true for everyone, however our specific needs do differ from person to person and for some people not fulfilling some of their higher needs is worse than death… at least to them specifically.

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Do not assume this is a permanent thing. After all, in the end the lower needs must still be met… they can only be left out for a time before they start to interfere with fulfillment of the more important needs.

This then brings us to the Common Needs; which are Expression, Acknowledgement and Achievement. These needs are more psychological in nature and can for some people become very abstract. What is important to remember before we explain what they are is that some needs in the beginning need to be fulfilled by others. However in time as we grow and evolve we can also begin to fulfill them ourselves. As a result it may take time to wrap your head around these ones because of this reality.

Expression is our need to express who and what we are in our own unique and special way. For some people this can be the way that they dress or the way they talk. Expression however is a great deal more than just that. It is also our creative outlets like drawing, writing, speaking or any number of others. It all comes down to the things we need to do in order to put forth that which is uniquely our own.

Acknowledgement is directly related to our expression in that it most often is what we get as a direct result of our expression. They can be things such as recognition, approval, support and esteem. For most people these are seen as things we get from others. However, they can also come from within… recognizing our effort put in to create what we have created and being proud of what we did are also forms of internal acknowledgement.

Achievement is directly related to acknowledgement in that it is the need to accomplish and succeed… the need to do! Achievement is why the painter paints, the baker bakes, the singer sings and the programmer programs. At the end of the day there is the need to simply "do it" and to make it happen. From this we gain satisfaction in a job well done, we feel joy and pride in our creations and others. For most this need is fed from within; however it can also be fed by others.

For most people, somewhere in among these three needs is where they find their own equilibrium or balance. There is nothing wrong with spending a lifetime getting these needs fulfilled. In fact for most people that is more than enough. For those who want more, this then brings us to the Higher Needs; which are Structure / Order, Actualization and Transcendence.

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Structure / Order is the need to know how things work and what our place is within the system; yet it also requires that our others needs are being met. This is not to be confused with control, it is the need to understand why things are the way they are and what can be done with them. This for most people is a very abstract need because it is not the same as needing to know why a clock works or who built the car we drive. It is more about the world around us and the rules and systems that govern it. The reason this is a need is that we need to know where we stand so that we can either stay there or move somewhere else.

Actualization is directly linked to Structure / Order because only once we know where we are and our place in the system can we begin to become everything we are capable of. This is really what Actualization is… becoming everything that we are able to become in all aspects of our own lives. For most people this is the "Authentic-Self" or "Higher-Self". However there is so much more to it. It is really about becoming the best that we can be - not to be confused with becoming perfect. It simply means that whatever we are and all that we do we give our best to no matter the situation.

Transcendence on the other hand is our ability to go beyond ourselves; something that can only happen after we have become Actualized. When we can go beyond the limits of our own lives then we can also work to help others do the same thing. This is really the key to Transcendence, without the ability to help others also Transcend their own lives then there can be no true Transcendence. This is really the need most people are trying to get filled by helping others. However, if we try and fulfill this need before we have ourselves Transcended then all we do is punish and hurt others while chasing our own tails… all the while telling ourselves how great and wonderful we are.

There are however another set of needs. These are the ones in the circles on the diagram and are the Associated Needs. These are very different needs in that they are connected to the other needs, are separate from them and at the same time also need them in order to be fulfilled themselves. This may seem very complex, however what matters is that they are interconnected to the other needs… how and why are not as important.

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There are three basic Associated Needs. The first is one of the most important needs there is out of all of them. This of course being Permission. This is in most simple terms the knowledge and understanding that it is okay to have or do something. In the case of needs Permission means that it is okay that we have needs, work to fulfill them and do what we can to understand them. Without Permission then all of that would become unacceptable.

Permission is another need that can be fulfilled a great many places. However if we get Permission from others then if at any time they take it away, then we no longer have Permission. As a result Permission should come from within whenever possible; or at least internal sources found as soon as possible.

Permission is a hard thing for many people in that we look to society to tell us what is okay and what is not. The problem with this is that society is simply an idea, it is not really real. Society in this regard is really a mass of people all doing the exact same thing… waiting for others to tell them what is okay and what is not. The reality is that Society is a control concept meant to limit and restrict the activities of others by people who want to be in control.

This does not mean society is a bad thing… only that what we call society and expect from it is unrealistic. We should look at society as simply the people around us… nothing more. What is right and wrong should come from within.

The problem is that all around us we see ideas of what is right and what is wrong. These are however not based on society, more often than not they are based on sales and entertainment. We see alcohol commercials that tell us it is okay to drink, we see people stealing things and making exciting fast getaways. All being shown as good and okay to do. Because of this we get lost and confused in what is okay and what is not… hence permission.

If we see our friends and co-workers doing something then it becomes okay to do it. If we do not have to fear punishment for doing it then it too becomes okay. The way we were raised, the values we have etc, etc, etc, all add to our mix of permissions. What throws this off is that if we go beyond this zone of approval then we are on our own.

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If we have Permission to do things based on ourselves then that Permission is based on us and our needs. If it is based on others then it is based on theirs. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it is not. The best way to know the difference is to look at the situation. If it does not hurt anyone or anything in truth then it is okay to do it. If it does hurt someone or something then you need to look and make your own decisions. Just remember that without the internal permission to have and fulfill your own needs (not wants or desires) then they can not be fulfilled.

This then takes us to Connection. This Associated Need is primarily only linked to the Common Needs, however also remember that the Higher Needs can not be fulfilled until all the lower ones are. The need for Connection is the need to belong, the need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It is what drives people to join clubs, find God, go to Church and countless other things.

It is a separate need from all the others, yet without it we can not fulfill some of the others. The reason for this is that we as a species were not created to be alone… we need others. We need people to talk to, to interact with and feel like we belong. Yet we also need to feel like we matter, are important and are part of something more than just our own lives.

Our ability and need to Connect give us all of these things and more; without them we would be truly alone. This is why people that are truly isolated for a long time are not always the same when re-introduced to others. The best example would be the person left alone on a deserted island for a long time. It is as if something inside of them snapped or died.

Connection does not mean going and joining clubs and being part of the group however. What it is, is the "feeling" of being part of. We can get this met by having others tell us we belong or we can allow ourselves to feel we belong… even if others may not feel we do. It is the feeling, not the connection itself. Though that having been said it is a feeling far to easy to lie about… when you really are connected you know it in your heart… not your mind!

The last of the Associated Needs is that of Discovery. It Associates generally to the Higher Needs mainly because it is the need to explore, to know and to understand. All of which is directly tied to the Higher Needs. This is the only need that can not truly be fulfilled from outside sources. Though to be honest a lot of the information we need to fulfill this need does come from outside sources… just not directly.

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The reason this need is so important is that it is the foundation need for all the Higher Ones. Without the need to explore, understand, quantify and interpret our own lives we can not fulfill the Higher Needs. Yet at the same time it is also a separate need. This is why some people crave information and understanding yet do not want to delve into their own lives; the reason why some people seek adventure and exploration. The need for Discovery is calling but not those of the Higher Needs.

Now that we have a good idea about what all the general needs are, we should take a look at how to get them through different means. Remember the more sources you have to fulfill each specific need the easier it is to fulfill. All needs fulfilled from outside sources no longer get fulfilled when the outside source stops fulfilling it; and lastly… those needs that can be fulfilled from within are the easiest to fulfill.

Baser Needs:

  • Physiological Needs: Best satisfied by having food, clothes, shelter and physical safety.
  • Safety / Security Needs: Best satisfied by being in a safe and emotionally stable and secure environment.

Common Needs:

  • Expression Needs: Best satisfied by creative expressions such as writing, speaking, drawing or other expression.
  • Acknowledgement Needs: Best satisfied as a direct extension of what we get from our expression based needs.
  • Achievement Needs: Best satisfied by taking pride in the various things that we do without shame or fear.

Higher Needs:

  • Structural / Order Needs: Best satisfied by understanding ourselves, the world around us and our place within it.
  • Actualization Needs: Best satisfied by following our own hearts to what makes us feel alive, whole and complete.
  • Transcendence Needs: Best satisfied by fulfilling all other needs and helping others to do the same.

Associated Needs:

  • Permission Needs: Best satisfied with the knowledge it is okay to have needs and work to fulfill them.
  • Connection Needs: Best satisfied by having spiritual beliefs and ideas, joining a club / group or connecting to God etc.
  • Discovery Based Needs: Best satisfied by exploring ideas, asking questions or the undertaking of a simple "adventure".
  • We all have needs and it is important to know and identify each specific one we have… at least in most basic terms. Hopefully in all of this you have learnt some of your own and new ideas to fulfilling them.

Copyright October 2005
ISBN 0-9739566-7-4


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