During a crisis we are in our “fight or flight mode.” This is our psychological reaction in response to a perceived harmful event that threatens our survival. The entire world is facing a humungous threat and we could neither fight nor flee!
Just imagine that. How do you fight an attacker that’s invisible to the naked eye? As a netizen wittily asked in reaction to one of the first presidential addresses, “Paano mo nga ba sasampalin ang veerus na yan?” The flight reaction also becomes tricky because we are all quarantined.
When we are in this fight or flight mode, our immune system is down as all energies are focused on combating the threat. When we are in this state for a prolonged period of time, it is dangerous to our health, as we tend to neglect our other needs.
Last Monday we were fortunate to have Dr. Honey Carandang to help us with this issue. Dr. Honey is our country’s top psychologist. If you’re familiar with the National Artist Award (the highest distinction given to a Filipino artist), there is a counterpart called the National Social Scientist Award and there are only two recipients of that award. She is the only surviving one as the other one is the late Fr. Bulatao.
Dr. Honey Carandang is also very dear to me because she helped pave the way to my writing career. She wrote the Foreword of my very first book Raising Pinoy Boys even if she didn’t personally know me yet at that time. To know the cute story how I bravely asked her for this, please click here. 🙂
Here are the Seven (plus 1) Basic Psychological Needs according to our National Social Scientist.
1. The Need for Personal Significance. We need to know and feel that we matter. This is why we would rather be engaged in a debate than be ignored. One of the most painful things you can do to a person is to treat him or her as a non-entity. Relating this need to our current crisis, the middle class is expressing their feeling of being ignored when it comes to help despite their being the highly-taxed segment of society.
2. The Need for Love (Unconditional Acceptance, Affirmation). We need to feel accepted without judgment, to be loved for who we are not for what we have or do. It’s the love a parent gives to an infant – loved and cared for no matter how he/she looks, without expecting anything in return. The challenge with love is that it’s easy, simple and gratifying when things are okay. But when they’re not, it becomes easier to choose not to love. In this difficult time when we are all cooped up together with our family members in our homes 24/7 and things are not running smoothly, it may be easier to lash out at each other instead of be loving to one another.
3. Need for Discipline (Clear and Consistent Limits). There are six Cs in doing this effectively, and this is not only applicable to a child but to every citizen, especially now that we are in crisis. They are:
a. Conviction – be sure that the rule is something your truly believe in.
b. Clarity – the rule must be clear to all concerned, communicated explicitly to those we will follow it. This is what we really need now.
c. Consistency – limits should be set repeatedly and consistently. We need to see that no one is above the law.
d. Consequences – wrongdoing must be punished. If consequences are not given, the result is a culture of impunity.
e. Care – the disciplining so people will do the right thing must come from care instead of anger and threats of killing and other forms of violence.
f. Communication – clear communication must be ongoing between the person implementing the rule and the person who is supposed to follow the rule.
The underlying core value of all these is respect.
4. Need for Sense of Competence. We all need to know that we are good at something. When we know and feel this, we are more empowered to go through adversity. It also gives you the impetus to help others specially during crisis. Using your talents to make a difference in someone’s life gives us that sense of contentment of living our purpose.
5. Need for Affiliation. No man is an island, even during quarantine. We need to connect with others, to belong to a group, family, peers, friends, church, civic, professional, sports, and other groups. We need to feel supported and appreciated by them. That is why we have to rename “social distancing” to “physical distancing.” Now more than ever, we need those social connections come alive as we combat this pandemic.
6. Need for Wide Scope of Self-Expression. We need to express ourselves in words and deeds. Aside from talking and writing, we need dancing, singing, art, music, and other forms of self-expression. Now more than ever, we are glued to our social media and we tend to express ourselves rightly or wrongly in that avenue. Let us allow some freedom and yet keep the decency so it does not become unhealthy for all of us. What’s interesting is that all forms of self-expression are happening right now, especially cooking and baking at home. As one friend said, “We have unleashed the ‘kitchen divas’ in all of us!”
7. Need for Transcendence. We need to look beyond what is physically here, to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, to believe that there is something greater and bigger than we are. When it comes to dealing with the current pandemic, we have to remember that this too shall pass. The general religiosity/spirituality of Filipinos is very helpful in fulfilling this need at the moment. We see families really gather together now and hear mass or attend their service together every Sunday or even more often for some.
8. Need for Beauty. I consider this a bonus track in Dr. Honey’s Seven Basic Needs and I am a believer in this. When we allow ourselves to be touched by beauty – we stop to smell the flowers, watch the birds, enjoy nature in general, art, and other things pleasing to the eyes and other senses, we allow the healing power of beauty. This reminds me of a conversation that my son Enrique and I had when he was still a young boy. He said he will never forget it.
Enrique: Why do you want to look good, especially when you’re going out?
Me: Because I don’t want to be a visual pollution to anyone!
Enrique: Wow! Hahaha!
We always laugh when we remember this conversation. The reality is, we don’t only need to avoid being that visual pollution to others, but we also need to feel beautiful inside and out.
To read more about these basic psychological needs, you may get yourselves a copy of Dr. Honey’s book entitled The Seven Basic Psychological Needs and also attend her upcoming online talk series starting today.
Here’s wishing you all safety and sanity! You may download this image in your handy device so you can easily refer to it when you feel like you’re overstaying in a negative emotional situation.
1. If you missed our #LiveAtFive with Dr. Honey Carandang, you can watch it here!
2. Listen to our Mom and Son Podcast on YouTube. Click here.
3. Have you read my book entitled The Emotional Cycle of Investing? You may download it now for free only during the lockdown period.
4. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to start your FQ journey. If you’ve taken this six or so months ago and you want to check how you have improved, you may take it again by clicking the link: https://forms.gle/tSHBiGtwpWHaKVzU9
5. Reading is another coping mechanism for the lockdown. If you haven’t yet, may I invite you to read any of the FQ Mom books?
Photos from freepik.com, modified and used to help deliver the message of the article.