The Importance of Meeting our Psychological Needs

The Importance of Meeting our Psychological Needs

There are many needs which human beings have ranging from food, shelter, social connection, physical expression, and psychological needs. Assuming that our basic needs for food and shelter and some reasonable social connection are present, we are naturally freed to seek to meet our psychological needs. Now we could list a substantial number of such needs but when all are considered, three psychological needs are most fundamental for human health and flourishing. These three psychological needs are:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery (Competence)
  • Relationship

Autonomy is the ability to express our own desires and intentions into action. This need can also be referred to as agency - the capacity to be our own agent in the world with the aim of effecting change in personal spheres of influence.

Mastery refers to our need to have competence in a range of areas but especially in our natural abilities and chosen area of work. Work or vocation provides an important vehicle for human beings to make a difference in the world and to make a contribution to others. When we feel we are capable and have abilities that we can express, then it adds to our positive sense of self.

Relationship, is fairly obviously need and is about our desire to be connected with others but it is also about our capacity to engage with others. We all need good friends and family as well as healthy work relationships and wider social relationships. To have healthy relationships requires us to have good interpersonal skills and a solid sense of self.  

One of the difficulties people have in meeting these three essential needs is that our family of origin, our schools, and workplaces can, at times, quash our sense of autonomy, not encourage or acknowledge our competence, or the acquiring of it, and stifle relationships in some way.  When these needs are not adequately supported, especially in children and young people, an individual’s sense of self is diminished. Supportive families, schools, and workplaces encourage and support the meeting of these essential psychological needs.

We at HopeRPI work with schools and workplaces to enable them to be more empowering places which nurture and encourage autonomy, competence, and relationships. If you would like to know more about seminars and workshops on this topic please email or phone us at HopeRPI.