Most understand the links between our thoughts or self-talk and our emotions and feelings — not so with emotion-drives. How can they be as as real as our physical needs for food and water? In Part 1 emotion-drives were described as action-motivating factors that propel us to take action from within to matter and meaningfully connect to life within and around us.

The concept of “emotion-drives” as life shaping and connected to our health and survival is more challenging to understand. And, we rarely think of or explain our own or other’s behaviors in terms of these powerful universal strivings.

This is surprising when we consider that several top psychological theorists in the 20th century, among others, Alfred Adler, Abraham Maslow, Rollo May and William Glasser, viewed human behavior as primarily motivated or purpose-driven to meet social needs, such as love, belonging, contribution, all of which are emotional in nature.

Why the disconnect?

Perhaps one reason we experience problems in connecting to our emotion-drives as “needs” is that we have been culturally conditioned to overall ignore or regard our “love and connection needs” as signs of weakness or pathology. As a result, we generally learn to look down on those who have too many “emotions” or “needs,” perhaps, labeling them as “needy” or “selfish” or “weak.” This dehumanizes our experience.

As a result, our relationships and lives are out of balance. On the one hand, some go around believing they don’t have needs, apart from meeting the needs of others, while others hold other persons responsible for their unhappiness, thus, blame them when they feel empty, unhappy, unfulfilled.

We’ve also been taught to distort the meaning for the word “need” itself, misusing it as an equivalent to the word “want.” Thus, we say things like “we need a new TV” or “more clothes.”

Our socialization, in some ways, has conditioned us to disconnect from our core needs, and to devalue our yearnings for love and connection, or recognition and value in our relationship, as signs of weakness or selfishness. We have also been taught to misuse the word “need” as an equivalent to the word “want” and thus we say things like “we ‘need’ a new TV” and so on.

In truth, the drive to to fulfill yearnings for emotional safety, connection and self-actualization is one that shapes human behavior. Marketing strategists understand and employ this knowledge (along with classical and operant conditioning principles) to get us to buy stuff and to believe that certain products will fulfill our yearnings for love, esteem, belonging, etc. In one generation, for example, Americans were rewired as a group to shift their beliefs, from valuing frugality to valuing “shop ‘til you drop” (among other) junk values.

Sadly, this conditioning also blocks us from understanding ourselves and others more deeply, which means compassionately, the essential soil upon which mutually enriching relationships grow and thrive.

It also does not allow us to fully understand the purpose of our defensive behaviors.

This understanding frees you to become a more conscious choice maker and navigator of the direction of your life.

Exercise: Connecting to Core Emotion-Drives

The purpose of the exercise below is to identify your emotion-drives, and perhaps also one or more limiting beliefs with regard to these core yearnings. It is also an essential step in understanding your self and others as human beings, growing authenticity, “seeing” yourself as an agent and choice maker of your life.

InstructionsRead each affirmation below and, on a scale of 1 to 10, where “1” indicates “not at all” and “10” represents “completely,” rate how comfortable or connected you feel to this emotion-drive at present.

_____ 1. Feeling understood, heard, seen for who you are.

_____ 2. Feeling loved with unconditional dignity and positive regard.

_____ 3. Feeling free to express your self authentically without fear of being judged, rejected or dismissed.

_____ 4. Feeing accepted for who you are as a unique being.

_____ 5. Feeling empathy or validation for your actions, thoughts, feelings, opinions, perspectives, etc., as your own.

_____ 6. Feeling recognized and valued for your unique contributions to life and others.

_____ 7. Feeling supported in your efforts to realize your dreams or purpose.

_____ 8. Feeling safe, secure in relation to life in and around you.

_____ 9. Feeling free to give and receive naturally (out of love and joy, rather than fear or guilt)

_____ 10. Feeling free to make own choices, do own thinking, learn from your mistakes, failures, etc.


Optional – suggestions:

  • Pause for a moment after reading each statement to reflection on your connection, close your eyes, turn your focus inside, and take a few slow, deep breaths  from the belly, feeling relaxed, present and calm.
  • Go back and circle 2 or 3 emotion-drives that you want to focus on to grow your connection and awareness.