Self Care

How to Identify and Meet Your Own Needs

How to Identify and Meet Your Own Needs | Hopeful Panda

Do you have trouble knowing how to properly identify and meet your own needs? I think that’s common for people who have been through childhood abuse.

You may tend to minimize or push away your needs because that’s what you learned growing up. Or like me, you might think that your needs are a burden or that voicing it was seen as selfish. So you never learned what it’s like to give yourself care and attention.

While you’re clueless about your own needs, you’re probably really good at meeting the needs of others. And this is kind of expected if you were raised by abusive parents, especially if they parentified you.

Maybe you completely neglect your own needs and put them on the back burner like you’ve been used to growing up. Or maybe you’re searching for someone to meet them for you since your parents never did.

Regardless, the pattern started when your needs were ignored or shamed as a child. Unfortunately, that’s not something you can go back and fix. But you can do something about it now.

Learning how to identify and meet your own needs is crucial for healing and for finding meaning, satisfaction, and joy in your life. And once you can, it doesn’t just mean you’re healing, it means you’re thriving.

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How to Identify and Meet Your Needs

To meet your needs, you need to be able to identify them first.

Unsurprisingly, according to research, people who are good at identifying their needs are also more likely to have their needs met.

Being able to identify your needs means being able to evaluate yourself – mind and body – and your life at any given moment.

“What’s happening? How do I feel? What do I need right now to feel better?”

Once you’re able to identify your needs, you can attempt to meet them healthily.

“What healthy changes can I make to meet that need?”

The formula for meeting your needs is simple: Need > Solution

  • Feeling cold > put on a sweater
  • Feeling tired > rest

However, while the theory appears simple, it’s actually very complex. This is especially true when it comes to emotional needs where the solutions – good or bad – are limitless.

  • Feeling angry > Run / yell / break something / curse
  • Feeling sad > Eat / write / go to therapy / drink

For the rest of this post, I’ll discuss how to identify and meet your emotional, physical, social, and personal needs and the complexity that surrounds them.

As you go through this process, I recommend journaling each day to record what your needs might be and how you can meet them or how you have met them. Journaling can help you make it a habit.

Check out the 100 Days journal in the Shop, designed to help you explore yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, and your life.

Also, this can be hard to do on your own. So it’s okay to reach out for professional help. A professional can help you as you learn how to identify and meet your own needs.

How to Identify and Meet Your Emotional Needs

First off, I want to focus on emotional needs because emotions play a big role in our life whether we’re aware of it or not. To be able to identify any type of need, it’s important to be able to identify our emotions.

Think about the role your emotions play in giving you the life you have right now. How might your emotions, or lack thereof, be affecting your day-to-day life?

Growing up in an abusive household might’ve caused you to bottle up and push away any feelings you have that aren’t positive. Maybe you were taught that it’s wrong, shameful, or a burden.

Therefore, you must learn to identify and appropriately deal with your emotions.

Being able to properly manage and express your emotions is a need for many child abuse survivors.

Learn more about it in How to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way.

How to Identify and Meet Your Physical Needs

If you grew up with abusive parents, especially physically neglecting parents, you might’ve often been left hungry, cold, or sick.

Now as an adult, you might struggle with taking care of yourself physically.

Maybe you’ve been experiencing pain but have been ignoring it. Maybe you let yourself go hungry or thirsty for hours on end. Or maybe you’ve been putting off going to the doctor when you need to.

How to Identify Your Physical Needs

Being able to identify your physical needs means listening to your body. Are you feeling hungry? Thirsty? Sleepy? Too hot or cold? Uncomfortable or in pain?

This might sound simple, but for many of us who’s been through abuse, this can actually be very difficult.

We’ve been conditioned to doubt or dismiss what we’re feeling. Or like me, you might even feel ashamed or guilty for feeling a certain way because your parents used to ridicule you for it.

For example, when I’m feeling hungry, I often question whether it’s genuine hunger or if I’m just craving food for comfort. During times like that when I’m unsure, I try to dig deeper into what I’m truly feeling.

So if I’m questioning whether I’m truly hungry, I’ll try to see what other feelings I have. Other than hunger, what other reason would I want to eat right now? Am I upset, stressed, or anxious about something?

If nothing comes to mind, I decide that perhaps I am actually hungry. But if something does come to mind, I try to find another way to deal with it instead.

Because at that point, my need isn’t “feeling hungry”, it’s “feeling stressed” or whatever else instead.

How to Meet Your Physical Needs

Once you’ve identified your physical need, find a way to meet that need.

Again, as simple as it sounds, this is something a lot of people struggle with.

To go back to my example, even when I’ve determined that I am genuinely hungry, I still have to decide what I should eat and how much. And that itself can create other difficulties.

What I decide can be healthy or unhealthy and can affect my mind and body in different ways.

It’s important not just to meet a need you have, but to meet it in a healthy way.

If you’re hungry or thirsty, it might be tempting to go for something quick that might be high in calories, fat, and sugar. Or if you’re in pain, it might be easy to pop a painkiller in and forget about it. While that’s okay in moderation, it’s important to be able to meet those needs healthily for your well-being.

Being able to meet your physical needs requires a lot more mindfulness than people might think. But it’s also about establishing healthy habits.

Learn various physical self-care practices you can start implementing to meet your physical needs.

  • Check-in with your body
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Stay physically active regularly
  • Go for regular physical checkups
  • Seek medical help when needed
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Drink enough water
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Get enough sunlight

With practice over time, you’ll get used to it and you’ll feel better – physically and psychologically – in the long run.

How to Identify and Meet Your Social Needs

I’ve mentioned many times before, social support is crucial. Not only is it a key element in healing, but it’s also important for living a fulfilling life in general.

To identify your social needs, ask yourself:

  • Am I satisfied with my current relationships?
  • Is there anything I want to change in my relationships?
  • How do I feel when I’m with the other person?
  • Do I have enough support right now?

Your answers to those questions should give you an idea of whether there’s a current need in your social life. Maybe a relationship isn’t working out or maybe you don’t have enough support in place.

Once you’ve identified the need, think about how you can best approach it.

Social needs are a bit different because it requires a bit of courage to meet them.

For instance, you might have to learn to set boundaries or be able to voice your needs to other people to have them met. So it becomes more of an external process rather than an internal one since it involves other people.

Here’s an example: If there’s an issue in your existing relationships, you might try to communicate with the other person to figure out possible solutions. And if that’s not an option, maybe you have to reevaluate the relationship.

On the flip side, if you’re missing meaningful relationships in your life, you may look into establishing some.

How to Identify and Meet Your Personal Needs

So personal needs are a bit different. In a way, it kind of encompasses all the previous needs mentioned – emotional, social, and physical.

Many of us have shared needs for the most part that keeps us physically and emotionally healthy. We all need health and wellness, safety and security, and supportive relationships to thrive as humans.

But when it comes down to it, we each still have a unique set of needs we need to personally thrive.

Personal needs are things we require to feel fulfilled, satisfied, or content with our life.

So how can you determine what your personal needs are?

How to Identify Your Personal Needs

Everyone is different. Although our personal needs might fall under emotional, social, or physical needs, it’s still something that’s personally valuable to us.

For instance, maybe you’re someone who needs excitement, adventure, and challenge in your life to feel fulfilled. Meanwhile, someone else might need simplicity and stability to feel content. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Take a moment to think about your personal needs.

Think about what brings you satisfaction, joy, fulfillment, pleasure, and meaning. Think about what you value in life.

To me, personal needs and values are interchangeable. If you don’t value your needs, you won’t be able to meet them. And if you can’t meet them, you might always feel like something’s missing in your life.

Maybe the need was something your parents used to shame you about. Maybe you thought it was okay to let it go.

But try to stop focusing on what your parents or anyone else tell you that you need or don’t need. Think about what you need.

Here’s a list of possible personal needs to help inspire you. Please note that this list is not exhaustive by any means.

  • Acceptance
  • Accomplishment
  • Adventure
  • Aesthetics
  • Belonging
  • Challenge
  • Connection
  • Contribution
  • Control
  • Creativity
  • Culture
  • Discovery
  • Growth
  • Education
  • Excitement
  • Freedom
  • Identity
  • Independence
  • Intentionality
  • Intimacy
  • Involvement
  • Play
  • Power
  • Productivity
  • Safety
  • Simplicity
  • Social Bonds
  • Spirituality

How to Meet Your Personal Needs

For the most part, we all need a sense of fulfillment, contentment, and satisfaction in life. However, different people require different things and experiences to meet those needs.

After you’ve identified needs that are unique to you, think about how you can meet them.

Maybe you had certain experiences in your life that allowed you to meet those needs at certain moments. Perhaps you can make it happen again. If not, what changes can you introduce to your life to better meet those needs?

If you value intimacy or connection, perhaps you can start communicating more and set aside more time for activities that allows you to bond with others. On the other hand, if you value adventure or challenge, maybe create more opportunities for yourself to do it, whether that’s taking on a difficult project or traveling someplace exotic.

The thing is, only you would know best how to meet your personal needs.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done. Not everyone has the privilege to pursue what matters to them.

But if it’s something you truly value, you will find a way to make it happen, which includes learning to prioritize your needs or make sacrifices. Sacrificing might sound bad. But if it’s truly what you need, you’ll find that it’s worth it.

Here is a summary of various questions to ask yourself to better identify and meet your needs:

How to Identify and Meet Your Own Needs | Hopeful Panda


In the end, being able to identify and meet your needs is no easy feat. It takes a lot of mindfulness, self-awareness, and determination. But as I’ve mentioned before, it is also about establishing habits.

Meeting your needs means taking care of yourself. This means that you’re healing and thriving.

Your childhood needs weren’t met so you end up letting it continue whether you realize it or not. But start listening and paying attention to yourself. Start fulfilling your needs that you weren’t able to before.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we spend most of our lives attempting to meet our needs – whether they’re physical, emotional, social, or personal. And we do this because we strive for purpose and we strive to feel good. That’s just being human.

As much difficulty as there is to heal and learn to identify and meet our needs, there is also a lot of fulfillment, satisfaction, and contentment in doing so.

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Hi there, I’m Estee. Having grown up with an abusive mother, I know how isolating, frustrating, and hopeless everything could feel – back then as a child and even now as an adult.

I am always trying to better understand and manage the effects of the abuse I experienced. And this journey I’m on inspired me to create Hopeful Panda. Learn more here.

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