Unmet Emotional needs (EN)


Ever wondered ‘what happens when emotional needs (EN) are unmet?’ Failing to meet our own or each other’s EN. It can present itself either as physical stress or emotional/mental stress or both. As I discussed in my earlier post, emotions start to develop from birth, and if not properly developed, it can lead to underdeveloped emotional disorders which can carry onto the adulthood and manifests as ‘unmet EN.’


This blog post is third in series with the previous post ‘understanding EN.’

In psychology, they say ‘humans are made up of feelings rather than flesh and bones,’ so we can never avoid feelings altogether. There can never be a perfect human with only the positive feelings or only the negative feelings. It is just unnatural to think like that. What we can strive for is to understand the feelings and emotions and direct them to a productive outlet.


During my research I got to know many things about different emotions and emotional needs which came as a surprise to me.

Ok, let me ask you ‘when you are tired, what do you want to do most?’. You might want ‘to relax, take a nap or sleep, for some may be taking some moments off from the world and taking a sip of tea and watching some show on TV, may be’ you want to have a relaxing shower’ right? What if rather than one of the above options, you will be provided with lots of advices ‘how not to get so tired’, or alternatives which just do not involve relaxing at all. Rather your friends and family will ask you to try stuff related to how to not to get tired or always stay young or, taking you to a football game or asking you to help them in the kitchen. You might feel unacknowledged, unsupported, invalidated more confused, obviously violated plus not to forget, more TIRED! Now imagine a second scenario, you are tired, and you got the place to relax or one of your friends helped you to get what you needed to relax, then after a while after relaxing, you are recharged again. How will you feel now? Energetic, thankful, validated and acknowledged…right.


So, what is difference between the two scenarios? Understanding one’s feeling at right time and supporting that feeling/need for the same. That is! So simple right. In the above scenario, the person was aware of his feeling of getting tired. He expressed it and got many responses from his support group as per their own understanding but did not serve the purpose to relax. In the second scenario his feelings were understood in the right manner and thereby got support, feelings resolved. In the first scenario, person expressed his feelings, but could not find the right way to resolve it so, he got more unpleasant feelings, means he got unmet EN for getting tired. Getting tired was not wrong as such but not getting a productive way to release the feelings causes problems.

Now imagine a toddler, who enjoys a high pitch sound whenever he drops a water bottle on the ground, to us as adults it might be a nuisance or seems silly, right?


But if you look at a deeper level, how nature has hardwired a kid to do so, this is how they learn life skills. I get that sometimes learning might harm your toddler but reasoning with a toddler won’t help, then what? My experience has told me that sometimes talking out of the situation helps, but most of the time patience, is the most important virtue that can help a parent. Kids test our patience!


Kids, when their EN are not met in an appropriate and timely manner, create a trauma. Why I have put this example in the middle of the topic is because most of our emotions start developing from the time, we first open our eyes as an infant. Parents can only pass to which they have, if they have unmet EN then unless they correct this behavior in themselves, it will be passed on to their children and it can go on like this from generations to generations, till someone consciously breaks the cycle. This is what psychologists treat when they analyze the dysfunctional relationships running in families.


Unmet EN can lead to emotional conflicts, feelings which we find unpleasant e.g. frustration, anger, confusion, resentment, hopelessness or may be violated.



What happens if our EN are not fulfilled? The person tries to seek control or manipulate, by feeling superior to others, via money, power, fame, etc. he might be overly competitive and bit aggressive to get his ways. When we behave, that doesn’t address our EN but rather neglect it, creating an unhealthy pattern for us and for others. That’s why it is important for us to understand EN and also how to meet our EN so as to live as a resilient human being.



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