At the heart of NVC is the understanding that it’s our birthright to thrive, and that all human beings need the same things (“life-needs”) in order to thrive.
To download this list of Life-Need categories, including a list of individual feelings and needs, click here.
UNIVERSAL HUMAN LIFE-NEEDS:
1) PHYSICAL SAFETY & PHYSICAL SUSTENANCE/NURTURANCE: Freedom from frequent threats to physical existence from animals, nature, or other people (e.g., being eaten by an animal, drowned by a hurricane, or hit or shot by another person). A beautiful, supportive physical environment, including (nonpoisoned) air, (nonpoisoned) water, and (nonpoisoned), good-tasting food; abundant restorative sleep; comfortable body temperature (beautiful, comfortable
shelter and, in some climates, beautiful, comfortable clothing). Caring touch. Room to move and physical movement (moderate physical exercise).
2) CONNECTION WITH OTHERS/BELONGING & PARTICIPATION: being a part of, being included, being wanted, belonging.
3) COMPASSION & RESPECT (especially by SELF): “love.” Having one’s fundamental, equal value acknowledged (respect), mattering, being appreciated, being intentionally nurtured. Room to Be all that we are; acceptance.
4) CONNECTION WITH SELF: self-awareness; self-understanding — including understanding human Life-Needs,
and understanding our own unique preferred ways of meeting our own Life-Needs. Awareness of the ways our own individual Life-Needs have been chronically or traumatically unmet (our “wounds” or “baggage”). Awareness of what our defensive patterns are, when our unmet Life-Needs are stimulated. A capacity to maintain our connection with ourselves even when our defensive patterns have been activated.
5) FREEDOM: autonomy, self-governance, choice
6) Understanding: clarity, comprehending how things work; connection with both a personal Reality and a shared Reality
7) Variety & Creation:discovery, newness, invention; bringing-into-being that expresses our authentic Self
8) Play: time and activities whose sole (conscious) purpose* is our own lighthearted delight. Play has an essential purpose and role in the development and regulation of the nervous system in mammals, and includes:
* a shift in perspective to a different kind of mental or emotional “space” (mutually recognized or agreed-upon by everyone participating) that includes a sense of freedom, ease, and joy
*the temporary lifting of many social, intellectual, emotional, and/or physical constraints, rules, or expectations
* temporary or “pretend” outcomes or consequences
* opportunities for exploration, discovery, and invention
* open-ended possibilities
* uncertainty and unpredictability
9) Leisure/Idleness: rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, restoration
10) Contribution/Growth: making a difference/making life more wonderful for self and/or others
11) Flow/Connection with Life: an experience of connection with something greater than ourselves, when our everyday sense of time and of self (or identity) dissolve into an expanded consciousness, space, or field
12) Emotional Safety/Security: confidence that our (other) Life-Needs will be met. NOTE: This is a unique Life-Need. Although technically it’s not itself a Life-Need (because there is no way to directly meet a need for emotional safety or security; always some other Life-Need must be met, in order for us to feel safe), it serves an extremely important and valuable role in helping us identify and meet our other Life-Needs, and for this reason it belongs on this list. Any time we say we feel (emotionally) unsafe or insecure, what we usually mean (often without realizing it) is that one or more of our other Life-Needs aren’t being met, or that we’re afraid they won’t be met in the future. Realizing when we feel emotionally unsafe is a very effective, helpful awareness … and, it’s also extremely important to then ask ourselves, which specific (other) Life-Need(s) are we concerned about? It’s essential to do this because the only way to meet our Life-Need for emotional safety or security is by sufficiently meeting our other Life-Needs.
The following detailed list of human Life-Needs (provided by The Center for Nonviolent Communication) is neither complete nor definitive. It is meant as a starting place to support anyone who wishes to engage in a process of deepening self-discovery and to facilitate greater understanding and connection between people.
respect/self-respect (being valued)
to know and be known
to see and be seen
to understand and be understood
celebration of life
List of Life-Needs (c) 2005 by The Center for Nonviolent Communication www.cnvc.org firstname.lastname@example.org 818-957-9393