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Recovery blog

Urges & Needs

By: Lara Pence

Posted on August 08, 2016

Some of you may have participated in groups at Renfrew during which you reviewed the different types of needs that we have. Let's think about it again – since I've got your attention. So we have our basic needs – what we need to survive – air, food, water – the ability to breath – sex, sleep… all of it. When these needs are met we are able to feel secure in our survival. Then we have our needs of safety – the things that make us feel safe, that remind use that things are going to be okay. Stability and predictability are key in this department. And then we've got love & belonging and esteem. We need to know that we fit in, that we belong. As you move through treatment, or have moved through, you may have allowed this need to be met through the treatment community. Perhaps it was a place where you felt like you belonged – where you felt accepted and able to connect. And finally, we have esteem. We need to know that at the end of the day we are enough! We need to come from a place of "I'm enough!"

Urges and needs go hand in hand. When you have an urge, it's super important to pay attention – more than likely the urge is trying to tell you something – it's telling you that you've got a need! Understanding the need that is driving the urge is going to help you in your recovery. You'll be less likely to return to unhealthy behaviors and more likely to live the life that you're looking for.

But how do you know what the underlying need is? Well, it takes some digging and some expanding. Look at the following examples and see if you have found yourself making any of these comments/statements:

  • I need you to listen to me! → Need to be heard
  • I just need room to breathe. → Need for independence
  • I want you to see me. → Need for connection
  • I need to know that this is okay. → Need for validation
  • Just be there for me! → Need for support
  • Will you still be there if I tell you this? → Need for stability
Take stock this week on what it is you need. What might be driving any urges that you have and how can you get that need met through more healthy, grounded behaviors?

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