According to Human Needs Psychology, every single human being on the planet — no matter his or her nationality, race, cultural or spiritual background, age, gender, sexual orientation, role in society or socio-economic status — shares six basic human needs.
These needs control every action we take, every decision we make, and every emotion we allow ourselves to experience. No exceptions. And we will strive to meet these needs in either positive, productive, constructive ways or in negative, unproductive, or even destructive ways.
These six needs can be divided into two categories.
Needs of Survival
Also known as “needs of the personality”, these are needs we all MUST meet in order to survive or at least maintain some semblance of mental and emotional stability, even if we’re not completely fulfilled in life. That’s where the Needs of the Spirit (below) come into play.
The first need is for CERTAINTY – to be comfortable and avoid pain, to feel secure, assured of some level of consistency in one’s life. Certainty is a powerful survival instinct in all people and animals, but in people, this need may be more powerful for one person than another. For some, the second need may be more important.
The second need is for UNCERTAINTY (variety, risk, adventure, inconsistency) – to have stimulus and change, and surprise in one’s life. We need to feel a variety of emotions, have a variety of experiences, and do a variety of things every day. If we live completely by routine, doing the very same thing every day of our life and feeling the same emotions all the time, life can become extremely boring, unproductive, or even depressing.
The third need is for SIGNIFICANCE – to feel special and worthy of attention, appreciated, important (if only to one other individual). If we don’t get a positive sense of significance from others, we will find it within ourselves through our job, our involvement in organizations, our religion, our mistreatment of others, our mistreatment of ourselves.
The fourth need is for LOVE and CONNECTION. Most of us find connection with others in one way or another, but fewer truly find love.
One of these first four needs (possibly two) will serve as the primary driving force in our life, and may even help determine how we meet the last two.
For example, I may volunteer a few hours every weekend at the local homeless shelter or food bank, or with my church or synagogue or other organization. In doing so, I will certainly be meeting or both of my spiritual needs of growth and contribution. But what is the driving force behind my volunteering? Is it to meet my need for uncertainty or variety in my life because of my mundane 9-5 work life throughout the rest of the week? Does it give me a sense of significance and appreciation? Is doing so and being around other people helping to meet my need for love and connection?
If any action or emotion we experience meets at least two of the six needs at a high level, it can become addictive — in a positive or negative way.
Needs of the Spirit
The final two needs are ones we must meet in order to be fulfilled, to feel complete. Everyone will find a way to meet each of the first four needs, and meeting one or more of the first four in positive ways can lead to us meeting one or both of the final two; but many never find ways of meeting these last two, and so never find true fulfillment in life.
The fifth need is for GROWTH. It is a fact of nature that if we are not growing we are dying.
The sixth need is for CONTRIBUTION, the need to feel that we are contributing to someone or something other than or greater than ourselves.
Although all of us have the same needs, we can meet them in ways that are positive or negative.
I can meet my need for significance by being courageous and creating the life of my dreams, or I can feel significant by having a big problem that I’m not able to solve. I can meet my need for certainty by deciding to believe in myself, or I can try to feel certain by deciding never to leave my house again. I can feel connection through giving love to others, or I can feel connection by feeling self-pity. Whatever behaviors I’m noticing in myself, whatever emotional patterns I’m struggling with, I must ask, “Which of the six human needs am I meeting through this behavior?” When I understand that, I’ll understand the deeper reasons for my behavior.
How are you meeting your
Six Human Needs
Take a few moments to ask yourself . . . Out of these six needs — certainty, variety, significance, love and connection, growth, and contribution – which do I focus on most? What do I do to meet that need?
That top need — whatever it is — is the single biggest factor that controls your life. What do you do to meet that need? What emotions do you engage in? What actions do you do?
Then ask yourself . . . Are there better ways I could be meeting my needs? Are there things I need to let go of that are holding me back from better fulfilling my needs?
Understanding these needs and how we meet them on a daily basis can be absolutely key in knowing how to make needed changes in our life, as well as in our relationships . . . even in our financial success.
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