Module 17: Building a Good Life

What are my primary goods (needs)?

The following exercise will help you identify some of the things that are important to you, the needs that your offending might have been trying to meet and start the process of identifying the parts of your life you want to improve.

Exercise 1 - Understanding your Needs

Download printable version of this exercise, with space to fill in answers >

Consider your life right now. Scale how well your essential needs are being met by giving a rating for each question between 1 and 7. 1 = the need is not being met; 7 = the need is well met.

For each question, write down one specific example that justifies your response. Additionally, make a note if you feel that this need is/was in some way being met through your illegal online behaviour.

  1. Do you have a sense of achievement?
    Do you have activities in your life that you feel good at? What is your general feeling of accomplishment from day to day? 
  2. Are you satisfied with how you spend and divide your time?
    Are you satisfied with your job? Do you have a range of other worthwhile activities in your life that you enjoy and give you a sense of fun, excitement and challenge?
  3. Are you spiritually connected?
    Do you feel secure with an understanding of your meaning and purpose in life?
  4. Are you at peace and feel comfortable with your life?
    Do you feel free from difficult feelings and know how to deal with these feelings when you have them? Do you feel physically and emotionally secure?
  5. How healthy do you feel?
    Do you take care of your body physically? Are you emotionally healthy?
  6. Are there people who are important to you and to whom you are important?
    Is there at least one person with whom you can be yourself? Do you have a sense of belonging and fitting?
  7. Do you have a sense of autonomy and control?
    Are your views heard and do you feel that you have a healthy influence over events? Can you manage the way you behave and the way you feel?
  8. Are you secure in your knowledge and understanding?
    Do you feel as though you know what is needed in order to feel ok in the world?


Although all of these needs are important, some will be more important to you than others. This next part of the exercise asks you to identify which needs you feel are priorities in your life.

Take a look back at the above needs. For each need, write the number 1, 2, or 3 with 1 being a high priority and 3 being less of one.


Select your highest priority need that was being met through your offending behaviour. Focusing on this one need, answer the following questions:

  1. What specifically makes this need important in your life?
  2. Do you have any ideas of how you could meet this need without the illegal online behaviour?

Meeting your primary goods (needs)

Ward also describes the role of secondary goods. Secondary goods are the means in which the primary goods are obtained.

  • For example, a primary good example of happiness may be achieved through the secondary good of a positive personal relationship.

People who have offended online were often trying to meet primary goods but in a harmful way. The most common primary goods that people try to meet online are:

  • Inner peace
  • Pleasure
  • Relatedness
  • Knowledge (curiosity)

(but some people might identify they were trying to achieve other ‘goods’ too).



You need to identify the need (primary good) that is important to you and healthy ways (secondary goods) of meeting those needs.


For example, consider, Tony, he is a man who has previously been convicted of internet offences. Tony lives alone and is quite isolated. However, he places great emphasis on the ‘primary good’ of social contact/activity which he used to meet through online chat. Tony has decided to meet this need through volunteering to undertake work in a community garden where he would meet a lot of new people.


Beware of obstacles!

Sometimes it can be really hard to meet your needs and there can be things that get in the way. 

If this is the case then it increases your chance of trying to meet them through unhelpful ways - particularly if these are things that you have done before (we often revert to old habits, particularly in times of stress!). 

Continuing with the example of Tony - if his way is blocked; for example restrictions due to previous convictions means he can’t volunteer in the garden because a lot of young people spend time there. Tony has the potential to relapse into inappropriate use of the Internet in order to meet other people again. However, Tony was aware this might be a problem and had planned ahead, so he had a back-up plan. He thought that if he was unable to do voluntary work in the garden he would be able to do work for the local animal shelter. Tony was able to start walking dogs for the charity and met other volunteers so still got a chance to meet his need for socialising, plus he started doing more exercise so felt healthier.


How do I plan for obstacles?

Some obstacles are easier to overcome than others, and to overcome some you may need to get help or support from professionals or specialist organisations (such as counselling to deal with grief or other negative life experiences). Some obstacles can take a long time and will be hard work to overcome (for example building self-confidence) but obstacles can be beaten and it is important to keep positive when tackling obstacles. See the problem solving section for advice on how to overcome obstacles.



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