Change your life instantly by understanding problem ownership

Change your life instantly by realising who owns the problem …

Problem Ownership  

A reality of life is that no matter how appropriate and assertive our need-filling behaviour, occasions will arise when our needs or the needs of others are thwarted.  These are challenging situations, and the strategies we need to adopt to solve them can require our best creative efforts.  Others will not always share our sense of fairness and our open-mindedness.  We may need to resolve our differences with people whose patterns of behaviour are less flexible than our own.

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It is these situations that both challenge us, and teach us the most, and are also a measure of our progress towards an inner state of peace.  In the words of Martin Luther King: ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy’

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Behaviour is usually considered acceptable or unacceptable by others depending on whether or not it interferes with their needs.  This is true when a specific behaviour interferes with the needs of an individual or of a small or a large group.  Most socially vetted behaviour stems from this root.  Laws are determined by this principle, as is custom and etiquette.


There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now! There are helpful free downloads at:

More about patterns of behaviour: habitually aggressive people …

Aggressive Behaviour Patterns:

 It is an interesting paradox that the underlying motivators of aggressive behaviour are the same as that of submissive behaviour.  Somewhere along the line habitually aggressive individuals have just learned different responses to similar feelings.  Aggressive people feel as threatened and worthless as submissive people.  The only difference is that they have not lost their natural ability to fight to assert their supremacy.  Using the model we presented earlier, we can surmise that their aggression stems from a need to survive, and in their view of the world, the ‘want’ is for domination.  Aggression is a learned strategy for achieving this.  The aggressive attitude and behaviour continues no matter how often it is successful and the want is fulfilled.  This is precisely because it is a want, or displaced need and not a true need in the sense of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

The body language and attitude of habitually aggressive people suggests domination, and includes features such as arrogance, sarcasm, a strutting posture and a challenging glare.  They often point fingers, make fists, or display physical aggression.


On the plus side, habitually aggressive people often get what they want by virtue of ‘shouting the loudest’, and can find it easy to achieve success and the accumulation of material possessions.  Sadly this is often achieved at the expense of others.  On the down side, the empires they build tend to be brittle, and collapse easily.  They struggle to fulfil emotional or relationship needs, and the need for esteem from both self and others remains elusively out of range.  Habitually aggressive people build themselves into ivory towers by unconsciously repeating the behaviour that builds the isolating walls higher and higher.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now!

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Do you know anyone who is submissive? Are you?

Submissive Behaviour Patterns:  

Submissive body language is very distinctive, and in an habitually submissive person can usually be identified by posture and head position.  If we look at submissive animal behaviour it’s easy to see where these physical patterns come from.  An animal bows to the superiority of another by exposing itself as weak.  The most visible sign of this is often an exposed belly, the most vulnerable part of the body.  Lowered eyes and avoidance of eye contact is another clear sign, as is a general slinking, tail between-the legs gait.  The submissive human is also bowing to the ‘superiority’ of another, and exhibits similar visible signs. There is an avoidance of eye contact, and a hunched posture, probably in an effort to be lower than the other as a parallel to the animal lying on the ground, belly up.  It is interesting to watch this behaviour in others or ourselves in this context and to realise where and when we engage in it. We may act this way in response to a specific person, such as a parent figure or a boss, while at other times we walk tall, and respond in more assertive ways.

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Sometimes the messages of our inadequacies are so pervasive that we become habitually submissive.  We adopt a hunched posture, and find eye contact difficult. We feel uncomfortable in the presence of others, and fidget and shuffle and mumble.  But even in this ‘lowered’ state, we have needs – in fact our needs are probably more extensive and greater than the needs of others.  So, with the pragmatism and resilience characteristic of the human spirit, we may learn to adapt our submissive behaviour to get others to fulfil our needs.  In time this pattern becomes comfortable and normal for us, and we manage to get by.  We enjoy the fact that we never have to take responsibility for anything, because after all, we are inherently weak.  This weakness compels others to ‘help’ and ‘protect’ us, and takes away the need to be anything but ‘weak’.


Manipulation by guilt is one of the tools often employed by habitually submissive people, and this immediately brings to mind the elderly relative, confined to bed with some infirmity, real or imagined, who has hoards of people jumping to their every whimper.  Taken to this extreme, it is unlikely that this represents truly submissive behaviour.  It is more likely that the originally submissive person has discovered the tools for aggressive domination, and is applying them with relish.


Attractive though this model may be to those needing to exert power and control over others, there is a significant down side.  The submissive person is totally dependent on others for the fulfilment of their needs.  This means that their needs will frequently be subservient to the needs of the ‘other’.  This can result in a ‘martyr’ complex, with consequent rejection and resentment by the original carer.  Someone is usually habitually subservient because of a basic sense of unworthiness, and negative responses from others such as resentment or rejection will only make matters worse.  It can get so bad that the individual looses all sense of self, and may even loose total contact with what they need to ensure their physical survival.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now!

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How do YOU get your own way? – Look at need-fulfilment strategies

How do YOU get your own way? – Look at need-fulfilment strategies

We learn behaviour strategies at a very early age.  We soon discover that if we act in a particular way we get what we want, and if we act in another way, we don’t.  This depends on the significant adults in our lives when we are young.  The reaction of these people tends to be quite consistent towards us, even if this means that they are consistently inconsistent.  This sets up a pattern of response in us, which remains fixed unless we experience overwhelming responses that make us change, or we become aware of our patterns. 


Although there is literally an infinite number of ways in which we act to fulfil our needs, we can distil these down to three broad categories, namely submissive behaviour, aggressive behaviour and assertive behaviour.  It is important to remember that these exist along a continuum, and that we sometimes use different types of response with different people or situations. Although our behaviour may lean more or less strongly towards one of these broad categories, we will present examples of only the ‘typical’ or ‘average’ response.  Again, most of these behaviours are simply behaviours that we have ‘learned’ at one stage or other of our lives, and by becoming aware of them we gain the power to change them.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now!

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Are YOUR needs important?

Our needs are important

It is clear from what was said a few bulletins ago that if we place little value on ourselves as human beings, we will also place little value on our needs.  We will tend always to place the needs and wants of others before our own.  As we have already seen, many of our patterns of behaviour originate in childhood, in response to the impact we observe ourselves as having on our environment.  If as children, our needs were always ignored, the result will be that we do not value ourselves in general terms, but more specifically, that we do not value our needs.  Then, when we experience a need, and someone else comes along with a conflicting need, we will almost invariably step down, because after all, their need is more important.



It is very easy to justify this behaviour in our society as unselfish, or as virtuous ‘selflessness’, which is not quite the same as being able to compromise. Very few are able, or wish to live in such isolation that none of their needs will conflict with the needs of others.  On the contrary, the fulfilment of many of our needs requires the presence of other human beings.

This makes the need fulfilment a tricky social issue.  By applying certain ground rules it is possible to overcome all obstacles. The first thing to consider is the distinction between needs and wants.  The closer we come to establishing our real needs, the less energy we waste on chasing phantoms, and the more we can focus on positive strategies. Secondly, if we recognise that our needs are as important as the needs of others, and that the converse is true as well – in other words that the needs of everyone are 100% important, we can create a climate of mutual respect and foster a sense of co-operation.  Whether our pattern of behaviour places the needs of others above our own, or whether we ram-rail our needs through in an attitude of survival of the fittest, we devalue ourselves and others and our pattern pushes being in a state of Peace of Mind further and further away.

In fact, if we were to apply the ‘Why push Game’ to either of these behaviours we will come up with interesting points about the way we relate to the world, and about what our true needs are.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now! There are helpful free downloads at: See also

All about why?

All about ‘why’


The little word ‘Why?’ is a very powerful one when it comes to establishing true motivation.  The process of locking on to a specific objective or an objective to fulfil a need is primarily a subconscious one, involving sometimes convoluted paths of reasoning that take us far away from our true needs.  In Janov’s terms, we respond to wants rather than needs.  Here is an example:


Jim had a job that required him to work a long day and spend many hours on the road.  Although he received a reasonable salary at the end of the month, it wasn’t enough to meet the needs of a wife and teenage family.  He was competent at what he did, and was satisfied with the level of status within his company and among his peers.  He believed he was happy in his job, in spite of the extraordinary long hours and high levels of stress. 

In spite of a happy family life, he experienced a sense of discomfort, which he ascribed to his immediate financial difficulties, and each week he religiously bought a ticket for the lottery and fantasised about what he would do should he win ‘the big one’.  He dreamed of being able to support his family in the way he would like, and of giving up his job and opening a deep-sea scuba diving business in a seaside resort town.  Week after week he bought a ticket and dreamed his dream.

One day a friend asked for help setting up a small business.  He was glad to help, and spent the few spare hours he had planning and strategising with his friend.  The business began to prosper, and the friend offered him a partnership.  The business was still young, and joining his friend would necessitate a drop in income, and he was aware that there were no guarantees of ultimate success in a competitive market.  After very careful consideration, he decided to join his friend.

That week when he bought his usual lottery ticket, Jim made a startling discovery.  He became aware that he would not choose to change anything in his life if he won. The money he would get from a lottery win would be welcome, but it was no longer important – it was no longer a ‘way out’ for him.

Clearly Jim’s ‘need’ to win the lottery was not based on his need for financial security.  He spent many uncomfortable years believing that he needed money to change his sense of discomfort, so he worked harder and longer, and dreamed and schemed to find a way to increase his income.  He was fortunate that his solution presented itself at his door, or he may have continued, like most of us, for the rest of his life looking for the miracle of chance that would be his salvation.

 “Peace of MInd – Pathways to Successful Living” is available from:

The WHY game …

The Why Game


Consider any one of the things you want in your life.  The need for more money is universal enough to use as an example.  Let’s consider Jim’s desire to win the lottery.  Assume you want to win the lottery and ask yourself:

       Why do I want to win the lottery?’

       The answer may be ‘Because I want to pay off all my debts.’ 

       Ask again ‘Why do I want to pay off my debts?’

       Perhaps it’s ‘Because I feel uncomfortable owing money.’ 

       ‘Why do I feel uncomfortable owing money?’

       ‘Because then people think I’m unsuccessful / can’t manage my affairs / am unable to earn enough


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By following this line of questioning a completely different picture may emerge, and it may be possible to modify the behaviour you undertake to fulfil your needs.  It is important to be honest with yourself. It is of course always possible to block yourself, or to reach a point where the only possible answer is ‘because I want it!’  Check whether this is because you have reached a real NEED (use Maslow’s hierarchy as a guideline) or because you are feeling uncomfortable.  If you can be open-minded and accepting of what you come up with, you may discover some interesting things about what motivates you.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now!

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Needs: If you HAVEN’T worked it out yet, here’s how to!


(Please do this by yourself for 15 minutes or so)

(What do we mean by needs?  A need = healthy condition for a healthy life).

meeting needs

Think to yourself, and write down the answer to the question:

“What do I want?”

Then think, and write down the answer to the question:

“What will that do for me?”

Work through this process until you get to what seems to you to be the
“bottom line”.

Look through the exercise

 (Do the best you know how!  I want you to be able to benefit from the answer).

Sometimes, what the basic WANT is does not match the underlying need.  Sometimes there can be an alternative method to get that need met … see what you can discover about yourself …

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There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at:

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What is YOUR difference between a need and a want?

As with all our behaviour, the greater our awareness of the why behind our needs or wants, the greater the influence we can exert on our own destiny.  It can be compared to shooting towards a target.  If it is dark and we have only a general idea of where we should aim, we have very little chance of hitting the target.  By understanding our motivations, we shed light on the outcome we desire, and we have a greater chance of aiming true.

What is the difference between a need and a want?  A want is the way we have chosen, perhaps unconsciously, to satisfy a need.


  I need reliable transport; I want a new car or a yearly bus pass etc.

 I need love; I want a monogamous relationship, or I want a baby etc.

 I need to feel I belong and am part of the crowd; I want to dress fashionably, or

 I want to join a group like a church, a sports group etc.

By posing the question “What will that do for you?” or “What will that satisfy?” we can get below the want level and begin to find the need level underneath.

Example:         I need to get some qualifications.      

         “What will that do for you?”

                         It will mean I can get a job.

“What will that do for you?”

I will be able to earn and contribute to the family finances.

What will that do for you?”

I will feel more equal in my relationship with my partner.

“What will that do for you?”

I will feel powerful and a person in my own right.

This is a very useful process to go through.  Having started with one solution, a quite different need has been uncovered at the bottom.  There are MANY ways to satisfy that need.  Even if the person concerned still goes on with their original plan, they are much more aware of why they want to do it.  Sometimes, because of the choices open to us at the time, we may have chosen a way to satisfy is a need that could in fact be better met another way.  Sometimes choices we made don’t turn out the way we thought and hoped they would.  Being aware of the need allows US to choose the most useful and fulfilling path.

It may be that you already get your own needs met. If so, WONDERFUL!

“Peace of MInd – Pathways to Successful Living” is available from:

A continuation of the needs : wants debate … Do you know the difference for you?

A continuation of the needs : wants debate … Do you know the difference for you?

I spoke about Maslow on 26th August.  American analyst and writer of ‘Primal Scream’ and other ground breaking works, Arthur Janov has an interesting explanation for this, disagreeing with Maslow.

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He includes the need for love as a level 1 need, perhaps even more fundamental than the need for food and safety.  As proof of this, he cites hundreds of examples of the way institutionalised infants fail to thrive when not handled and ‘loved’ by staff, in spite of having all their other needs fulfilled.


Regarding the needs : wants debate, according to Janov’s theory, when a need is not fulfilled in early life, the individual experiences what he calls Pain, with a capital P.  There is a certain logic to this because the non-fulfilment of level 1 needs poses a survival threat to a young organism, which must result in considerable stress, and we know from numerous studies that stress has a profound and potentially fatal effect on the body.

Janov goes on to suggest that this Pain is stored as a memory in a cumulative fashion.  Each time a need is not met, Pain is the consequence, and is stored.  There is only so much Pain an organism can process, and a point is reached when a ‘split’ occurs, and the individual is no longer aware of their needs in an immediate and organismic sense. Henceforth Janov contends we respond only to wants, and these wants are subconsciously driven in the direction of fulfilling our originally unfulfilled needs.  Because we are no longer responding to our original impulses but to a shadowy memory, we will never be satisfied, no matter ‘how much’ of the desired outcome or object we achieve.  That could explain a lot in our society, couldn’t it?

According to him, this process of disconnectedness accounts for the obsessive nature of much of society, and the inability of many to reach a point of inner peace.  The inability to satisfy Maslow’s level 1 needs clearly makes it more difficult to move on to the fulfilment of higher order needs.  Although the specifics of this theory are not universally accepted, it does draw attention to the distinct differences between needs and wants.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now!

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