A satisfied king with a yummy cake. The loving king kisses the queen. The king is asleep on his throne with the dragon curled up on his tummy. The king hugs the princess, who is not really in the mood for a hug. The king speaks to the wise wizard. Content and satisfied, the king strokes the dragon’s head.

''Once upon a time, there was a wise man who knew that he enhanced his self-esteem when he fulfilled his needs.''

The notion of objects of need

An object of need is the object that best meets your needs and reduces your inner tension. As described in the previous chapter on needs, there is a close link between needs, objects of need and satisfaction. The art is thus to identify your personal needs as often and as much as possible and to match them as well as possible with objects of needs – with due consideration for other people’s norms, values and morals as well as familial and social bonds. The gratification of certain needs will have to be delayed out of consideration for other people, but too many needs are pushed side due to lack of attention, an inability to sense ourselves, obstacles we put up for ­ourselves, poor personal leadership and low self-esteem.

As adults, we build self-esteem by fulfilling our personal needs. Conversely, we erode our self-esteem when we let ourselves down out of excessive consideration for other peoples’ – perhaps even unstated – needs, because we hope that they are going to like us better or because we do not to want to be any trouble.

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In the illustration, we see the king enjoying some alone time. He has his needs ­fulfilled and, thus, becomes satisfied. He eats his cake and naps on the throne. When the object of need includes other people, it is not enough that the king has a need. The person or persons that the need is directed at must also be willing and interested. Otherwise, the interaction is inherently abusive. That is illustrated by the scene where the king hugs the princess – she might be taken aback and allow herself to be hugged. But was she ‘willing and interested’? What is the king supposed to do in that situation? Sense what is going on, employ his empathy and communicate his need for a hug or maybe tell her how fond he is of her and that he looks forward to giving her a hug when she feels like it.

If the object of need is not within reach or is not interested in fulfilling the king’s need, he may instead use the tension-relieving four-step model outlined in the ­exercise section.

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