Richard Cavaliero

Human Givens

We are all born with innate knowledge programmed into us from our genes. Throughout life we experience this knowledge as feelings of physical and emotional need. They are the driving force that motivates us to become fully human and succeed in whatever environment we find ourselves in. It is because they are incorporated into our biology at conception that we call them 'human givens'.

People whose emotional needs are met in a balanced way do not suffer mental health problems. When psychotherapists pay attention to this they are at their most effective. In short, it is by meeting our physical and emotional needs that we survive and develop as individuals and a species.

Emotional needs include:

  •  
  • Security — safe territory and an environment which allows us to develop fully
  • Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition
  • Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices
  • Emotional intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are.
  • Feeling part of a wider community
  • Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
  • Sense of status within social groupings
  • Sense of competence and achievement
  • Meaning and purpose — which come from being stretched in what we do and think
    • Along with physical and emotional needs nature gave us guidance systems to help us meet them. We call these 'resources'.

      The resources nature gave us to help us meet our needs include:

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      • The ability to develop complex long term memory, which enables us to add to our innate knowledge and learn.
      • The ability to build rapport, empathise and connect with others.
      • Imagination, which enables us to focus our attention away from our emotions, use language and problem solve more creatively and objectively.
      • Emotions and instincts.
      • A conscious, rational mind that can check out our emotions, question, analyse and plan.
      • The ability to 'know' — that is, understand the world unconsciously through metaphorical pattern matching.
      • An observing self — the part of us that can step back, be more objective and be aware of itself as a unique centre of awareness, apart from intellect, emotion and conditioning.
      • A dreaming brain that preserves the integrity of our genetic inheritance every night by metaphorically defusing expectations held in the autonomic arousal system because they were not acted out the previous day.
        • It is such needs and tools together that make up the human givens, nature's genetic endowment to humanity.

          See www.humangivens.ie

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