- By Heidi Philip
We are all unique individuals and yet we are all the same. One of the crazy paradoxes of life, right?
We are each born into this world with unique genetics, from a unique in vitro experience, via a unique labour and delivery, with a unique set of life experiences and circumstances to come. There is no one else out there, literally no one, who has had the same life experience each of us has.
And yet if we go back to first principles of what it means to be human, to what it is that each of us needs to flourish in life, we’re all the same. Many are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and then there is the 9 universal human needs model created by Chilean economist, Manfred Max Neef, that considers the socio-economic dimension of life. When these 9 fundamental human needs are fully met, without being overly met, we can move through life thriving, flourishing, and contributing to our greatest potential.
Except that never happens. Ever.
Life is messy. From the moment we are born we are watching and listening, sensing and learning from the people around us and the circumstances we experience. These imprint in our psyche and shape our beliefs about what life and living is all about; about our place in the world and what we are capable of. And because no one ever has perfect parents (remember they were imperfectly parented too) or a perfect life experience (even if they look like they do on Facebook), we all grow up with imperfect need fulfillment. For each of us, some of our needs are fully met and bring us great pleasure — they become our passions. Some are overly met and become our unrealistic expectations. And some of our needs are underserved or even ignored and these shape our personal pain points. We can carry these unmet needs, these pain points, these wounds, with us through life as a burden on our backs and live with them as our limiting beliefs, holding us back.
Or we can choose differently.
We can choose to see our pain, less as a shadow and more as a gift. We can choose to see it as inspiration for the positive impact we can have on the world — how we alone are uniquely positioned to see something that needs changing, advancing, healing, and go do it. And in doing so, we become our best version of ourselves. The power to be the best version of ourselves lies in all of us. It is a basic human right best manifested by living a passion-filled, purposeful life — by each of us doing our life’s greatest work inspired by our greatest, deepest hurt.
What are those 9 universal human needs? Subsistence, Safety, Affection, Understanding, Belonging, Leisure, Creation, Identity, Freedom.
Which ones were wholly met for you and which ones weren’t?
A way out of wondering what you are meant to do with your life, in your life, might just be waiting there for you in your unmet needs.