It is true that we all have needs. According to Abraham Maslow (an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow's hierarchy of needs), theorized that people's psychological health was based on fulfilling natural human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. Maslow's novel theory opened up a new view for looking at human behavior and thinking. Specifically, the idea that human behavior, good or bad, could be motivated by the desire to satisfy a genuine need that is common to all. We all require shelter, food, water and relationships. However, our relational and psychological needs can be quite complex.

Knowing ourselves
Relational needs can vary from the holy trinity in intimate relationships: passion, commitment and trust. Some people require a high level of contact with other people, whereas others need less. Some have overemphasized needs for security and status, and others have greater needs for altruism and community.

Human behavior can go to such extremes as constructing delusions that help one escape from painful memories and life experiences. The rather subtle aspect of relational and psychological needs is that they are often invisible or hidden deep within our hearts and minds, sometimes even unknown to ourselves. They are not evident to those around us. We only see the annoying and frustrating behavior. Focusing on and being more understanding of the fact that each of us, as a human being, has personal needs and struggles, will help us to remain more calm in frustrating situations.

Pick a different lense
One aspect of family therapy is helping brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers see their family member's annoying or hurtful behavior with an additional, understanding lens, rather than a negative one. Because if we are to accept Maslow's idea, at some level annoying or hurtful behavior is an attempt to satisfy a need that we can all relate to and understand. So consider this: That special someone in your life who annoys you may be trying to fulfill a need, even if in an unhealthy and negative way; he or she may not know another way to react to his or her specific need.

Do something about it
Understand that negativity begets negativity. In other words, if you respond in like to the negative behavior, it is likely to continue the negative cycle, making you, and others, miserable. Instead, see the frustrating behavior — from your boss, spouse, child, etc. — as a fellow human being trying to fulfill a need that we would all like satisfied (i.e. friendship, status, security, hope and so on). Then help them fulfill that need in a positive, healthy manner. Take compassion on them and see their behavior in a new light. Looking upon those around us with more compassionate, understanding eyes will only improve the situation.

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