Emotional needs – we have them all. I call them soul cravings. And sometimes they cannot be satisfied or they get out of control. What are emotional needs and how to take care of them? You can also listen to my longer online talk below or via YouTube here.
Irrespective of your beliefs, at a fundamental level you, too, have a soul – a core. And you, too, have a hunger for things that fuel your core and keep you going, help you survive and thrive.
Soul cravings are about our needs, self-care, self-respect, self-awareness, boundaries, mental health, physical health, emotional health, soul health.
Some cravings, however, can be more destructive.
A big and important part of our life is about managing our soul cravings. At times it may feel like they are running the show. And that we are the ones out of control.
Here I’d like to share with you some key insights and strategies about looking after your soul cravings.
1. Basic and more advanced emotional needs
Our most fundamental soul cravings and emotional needs are about feeling safe and protected, to have enough to survive physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We need to be loved and feel we belong.
Some argue that mental, emotional and spiritual needs, love and belonging are more advanced needs. I can see that. Without food we starve. With food but no love, we won’t starve – physically. But the lack of meaning, purpose, love and a sense of belonging can lead to a different type of starvation and problems.
At an advanced stage we may aspire to recognition, achievement, growth, development and improvement.
Our cravings can be clean and acceptable or raw, anti-social and threatening to others and ourselves:
Love – jealousy – solitude – isolation – peace – forgiveness – retribution – anger – hate – protection – humiliation – growth – destruction to name just some.
2. When our soul cravings are satisfied we have soul energy
Soul energy is when we feel satisfied, safe, protected, liked and even loved.
When we have hope, can connect with meaning and purpose in our life.
Sometimes we cannot have it all. But we may have enough to feel satisfied.
Then we have an energy inside and aura around us that shines, makes us feel good and makes us believe in ourselves.
We are less threatened by difficulties, the impossible, the unkind and the unfair.
3. Our emotional needs can change
Life can be a constant challenge for us and our soul cravings. Difficult things happen, making our cravings grow. We may or we may not have enough soul energy in reserve to satisfy that hunger. And others may not want to or be able to give us what we need.
There may also be times of abundance, when we have more than we need.
At other times we may realise that we need a lot less than we thought.
One person’s deficit can be another person’s modesty.
4. When soul cravings cannot be satisfied
Sometimes soul cravings cannot be satisfied because they are unrealistic and extreme to start with. For example – recognition. We cannot always be recognised, and praised, and be the best and be adored. If you need such acknowledgement constantly and in excess, then I suggest you get some neutral and professional help to explore why that may be the case.
Leaving such extreme emotional cravings unaddressed can lead to more and more disappointment, destructive behaviour and experiences.
Over time we may have managed our cravings quite well – through our lifestyle, attitudes and beliefs. Yet keeping that stable can be difficult and sometimes small or great imbalances can happen.
We may lose a person, a friendship, a job, a means of income, our identity, role and status in our family or society, our health, our youth, our looks, our home, our beliefs may be called into question, our life may be at threat or coming to an end.
Losing balance and a sense of control in that way can be one of the greatest drivers of cravings. Because the way we used to satisfy and calm emotional needs may no longer work.
Finding new ways can take determination, motivation and energy. All of which we may not have enough of. Then patience and a sense of hope are of the essence.
Because raging emotional needs can lead to self-destruction.
5. Satisfying our emotional needs through addictions
It is easy to get tempted to feed our painful cravings with (initially pleasant) habits, but which in themselves can cause more problems. Drugs, alcohol, food, social media, relationships, sex … you name it. Even things which are ok, but can turn into a negative, if done in excess and for the wrong reasons.
When soul cravings are fed with addictions we can end up losing sight of the original craving.
The addiction takes over and we become enslaved to feeding it, while the real craving continues.
6. Soul food for emotional needs
Soul food is what we need for soul energy.
The best soul food is the one that comes with the purest of intentions, that is authentic, respectful and has no hidden agenda. Soul cravings need to be looked after with quality not quantity. @KarinSieger (Click to Tweet!)
It can be actual food. But you know, that there is a whole wide range of soul food out there for you:
In no particular order: Creativity – nature – companionship – silence – music – writing – prayer – singing – breathing – sounds – light – complementary / alternative / talking therapies – solitude – giving to others – physical activity …
7. Understanding and taking care of your soul cravings
To understand and support your cravings you need to understand yourself, in a way that is not punitive or judgmental.
And it really helps, if you can like yourself.
Observing yourself will help you to understand yourself, to know what does and does not work well for you.
- What are your triggers that bring on cravings? People, situations, feelings …?
- Are your emotional needs realistic and justified? Can they ever be satisfied?
- What are the more or less difficult soul cravings for you and why? Anxiety, miscommunication, lack of recognition, illness …?
- How do you manage your cravings? What works well and what doesn’t?
- Which strategies work well for you to help build up, store and regulate good soul energy?
- Are there lifestyle choices you make which increase your soul cravings and deplete your soul energy?
- Do you mostly operate at a deficit, hover around the ‘just about enough’ level or do you tend to have a high level of soul energy?
There are times when we may need to live with a deficit and learn to manage that and ourselves in a way that is not damaging.
Taking care of our soul cravings is about learning to regulate them, so they do not overwhelm us, or we are left too weak with not enough soul.
Karin Sieger is a psychotherapist, writer and podcast host. She offers support globally with motivation, personal transitions, grief, making peace and the emotional impact of cancer, with which Karin has been diagnosed twice. She does her writing and recording on her orange houseboat in London. You can sign up for her free newsletter, and listen to her podcasts ‘Soul Cravings’ and ‘Cancer and You’. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube Channel.