How you feel depends on your needs

Who would have thought 2020 would bring such upheaval to our lives, and change the entire world as we know it?

Lock-down has been a challenge and a blessing, depending on your perspective. Mostly, it has created an inexplicable roller-coaster ride of highs and lows for many, as the days merge into one long experience.

Meet Mrs Guilt

If you live in a big enough space, have food on your table and fast Wi-Fi, these feelings can be accompanied by Mrs Guilt, who is quick to scold you for feeling low, and remind you of the plight of individuals facing war, or of those living in informal settlements.

Is Mrs Guilt entitled to her opinion? Or is there something deeper that can explain why you are finding it hard to maintain an even keel during lock down? Tony Robbins introduced the concept of the six human needs. He outlined how these needs can impact your well-being. These needs vary in intensity between individuals, but when they are not met, they impact us so much that we will do everything we can to meet them. So how does this relate to how you feel in lock-down?


The uncertainty of when the lock down will be over, what the world will look like, or, how many people are going to succumb and what is going to happen to the economy, means in all likelihood this need is not met, leaving you overwhelmed and feeling out of control.


We all need an aspect of variety in our lives. Endless hours of Netflix, staying at home, being with only a few individuals and seeing the same walls becomes very monotonous and our brains start screaming for new stimuli.

Love and connection

You may be getting a lot of love and connection with those living with you (or not), however, we are at our most disconnected with our face masks and social distancing. We are longing for the meetups with friends and families and the socializing we are so accustomed to. This disconnection is even greater for those living on their own.


Our ability to do our jobs really well, increase our earning potential and build our status is hampered.  Furthermore many individuals are facing retrenchment or decreased earnings, which could mean a loss of independence. Many of us feel hopeless and helpless in the face of what appear to be draconian, unsubstantiated rules we are forced to obey.


While some are using this time to read, do online courses, or learn a language, others are consumed by taking care of their families and working from home and others just don’t feel up to it. We are used to growing our careers and our education, which looks very different now.


Staying at home was considered a contribution in combatting Covid-19. However, it doesn’t seem that great when compared to those going out to work as “essential services”. Our need to contribute to society by doing something constructive or giving could be heightened at this time or it could be very low, depending on what you believe.

How does knowing this help you?

If you identify with the needs above and recognize one or all of them are not being met, you can find ways to satisfy these needs by making small changes and “tricking” your psyche into feeling like your needs are being met. For example changing your routine or Netflix themes to bring some more variety to your life. To bring more love and connection, show more love and connection. Donate food parcels or money to a worthy cause you believe in. Change your perspective on what it means to grow. Spending time with your loved ones, getting to know them, introspection and learning to manage this time is growth. As for certainty….. a routine of waking up at a certain time, and doing certain routine tasks like exercise at the same time could bring a sense of certainty.

So yes, you are entitled to feeling down when your needs aren’t being met. It is natural. If someone experienced war, but had all of the above needs met, they could have a sense of well-being more than you do. The good news though is that you can do something about it. However, this is not another avenue for Mrs Guilt to creep in. If at first you don’t succeed, try again and maybe one day you will find you can use the six human needs as a tool to improve your well-being, no matter where you find yourself.