I'VE OFTEN JOKED with my good friend Neil that if I'd endured one more year of my needs being out of balance, I probably wouldn't have survived long enough to be working on this project. I was severely bullied as a child and teenager with no one to turn to for help. One of those bullies is currently serving life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder. I lost a full scholarship because I fell in love and quit school to pursue the wrong kind of gal for me. I've ruined my credit twice, been on food stamps twice, and all before the age of thirty. Of course then there's that whole Benzo ordeal I spoke of earlier, not to mention several embarrassing and sad events I'd rather not mention yet.

Yes, one more year of imbalance in my human needs department and I don't think I would have made it. Can prolonged unmet needs lead to catastrophic outcomes?

If Adolf Hitler hadn't endured both physical and mental abuse at the hands of his father, would he have turned out different? What if his drawings had actually gotten him into the art school that he was so passionate about? What if his mother, whom he was extremely close to, hadn't passed away that very same year? What if more than one of his five siblings had lived past childhood? What if more of his needs had been met in his formative years. Would it have prevented him from turning into arguably one of the world's worst human beings?

Have you ever seen an animal that has gone too long without having it's needs met? Never quite the same are they?

Then there's Genie: The feral girl.

In 1970 a young girl who looked to be about six or seven limped into a welfare office in Los Angeles. She was emaciated, shoulders stooped, and held her hands up in a strange way, almost like a kangaroo. Her mother, suffering form cataracts and seeking the office with services for the blind, had accidentally walked into the wrong room.

The welfare workers were stunned and transfixed.

At first they assumed autism. They soon discovered she could not talk. She was incontinent and salivated and spat. She had two nearly complete sets of teeth - extra teeth in such cases are known as supernumeraries, a rare dental condition. She could barely chew or swallow, and could not fully focus her eyes or extend her limbs. She weighed just 59lb. And she was, it turned out, thirteen years old.

Her name, or the name given to protect her identity, was Genie. Her deranged father had strapped her into a handmade straitjacket and tied her to a chair in a silent room of a suburban house since she was a toddler. He had forbidden her to cry, speak, or make any noise and had beaten and growled at her like a dog whenever she did attempt communication.

It made news as one of the worst cases of child abuse in the United States. How could a quiet a sleepy Californian town, produce a feral child – a child so deprived of basic human needs?

Authorities initially arranged for Genie's admission to a children's hospital where a team of physicians and psychologists managed her care and well being. It is during this time that she actually began to show signs of improvement in her language and behavioral skills. Her subsequent living arrangements became the subject of debate. In 1971, she left the hospital to live with her teacher from the hospital, but a month and a half later, authorities placed her with the family of the scientist heading the research team, with whom she lived with for four years. Soon after turning eighteen, Genie returned to live with her mother, who decided after a few months that she could not adequately care for her. Authorities then moved her into the first of what would become a series of institutions for disabled adults. However the people running it subsequently cut her off from almost everyone she knew and subjected her to even more physical and emotional abuse. As a result, her physical and mental health severely deteriorated, and her newly acquired language and behavioral skills very rapidly regressed.

In 1978, Genie's mother abruptly forbade all further scientific observations and testing of Genie. Little is known about her circumstances since then. Her current whereabouts are unclear, although she is believed to be living in the care of the state of California and is about 67 years old.

Was having her essential human needs unmet for too long at the root of Genie's tragic story? Absolutely. Yes, too many human needs, left unchecked for too long, can be catastrophic.

Feel Good? Feel Bad? & CBT

In a world laden with stimuli, our emotional response to people, situations, and circumstances often dictates the path we choose and significantly impacts our personal and professional success. Feel Good Feel Bad is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which has long been a beacon for those seeking tools to manage trauma, addictions, anxieties, phobias, depression, and more. Yet, its most profound gift to humanity may just be in teaching us to navigate the choppy waters of our needs, habits, and routines, through the lens of our real-time honest emotions.

Listening to Our Inner Emotional Compass

At its core, CBT champions a simple truth: understand your thoughts, and you can understand your emotions. But what happens when this process occurs not in therapy sessions, but instantaneously in the moments that make up our daily lives? Emotional honesty emerges as a crucial life skill, a compass to guide us through a maze of endless choices.

Real-time emotional awareness is the act of identifying and accepting our emotions as they happen. Instead of repressing feelings, or allowing them to ferment into something unrecognizable, these principles teach us to acknowledge these emotional responses, understand their roots, and decide how they will shape our actions. This continuous loop of feedback and decision-making is a dance: the dance of emotional agility.

Proactive Emotional Intelligence: A Bridge to Success

Our ability to recognize emotions as they arise equips us with proactive emotional intelligence—a superpower in the arenas of personal development and interpersonal relationships. Consider the ramifications in the workplace: leaders with a keen sense of their emotional shifts are better poised for conflict resolution, nurturing effective teams, and steering their organization with a sense of moral clarity.

Conversely, in our personal lives, the significance of such acute self-awareness cannot be overstated. Spontaneous emotional honesty helps us set boundaries, express genuine needs, and develop deeper relationships. It shapes our decision-making process, helping us to discern between fleeting temptations and our long-term values and goals. It's not hyperbolic to state that our emotions, when maturely understood and respected, can drive us towards healthier options both seamlessly and swiftly.

Modern Technology to Support Emotional Wellness

In a new twist, we find technology entering the realm of emotional health with an invigorating promise. Mobile applications now integrate CBT principles, while wearables track physiological markers of stress or excitement, blending human experience with data analysis. This interplay of tech and emotions promises to catalyze our journey toward greater emotional agility, enhancing our real-time responses and overall mental well-being.

Such innovations foster a new culture where personal emotional data is not just stored but actionable. They serve as an extension of our own self-awareness tools, reminding us to tune in to our emotions, to embrace a moment of introspection, or even provide a tailored set of strategies to manage our reactions on the spot.

Cultivating Honesty in a Masked World

In a society often championing a stoic face, real-time honesty can feel vulnerable, almost revolutionary. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy does not merely suggest we acknowledge our emotions—it empowers us to consider them valid, useful, and essential navigational aids. This is not the trivial “go with your gut” advice; it's a profound, studied approach to utilizing our most honest emotions to live a richer, more aligned life.

Feel Good? Feel Bad? The Journey Towards Emotional Fluency

Therapists, seekers of personal growth, and individuals focused on their overall well-being can all attest to the transformative power of real-time emotional understanding. It is more than just an approach to therapy; it is an ongoing lifestyle, a soft skill with hard impacts, leading us towards ever-healthier decisions. By embracing Emotional Agility for navigating through life and our needs with honesty and integrity, we are not merely coping; we are thriving.

In this age of information, where opinions are swift and judgments quick to form, those who have incorporated the skill of real-time emotional understanding into their lives acknowledge that the most crucial conversation is the one happening within. As we continue to traverse the contours of daily existence, let us do it with emotional truth as our guide—forever equipping us to face the challenges of meeting our needs with resilience and grace.

- Grady Pope Needs Coach