Part of being a human is having needs. From that stems the wanting to fulfill or satisfy those needs in whatever way possible. We identify the six human needs as being the need for certainty, the need for uncertainty or variety, the need for love and/or connection, the need for significance, the need for growth, and the need to give. The first four fall under the need for human personality, while the last two are considered the needs of the human spirit. There are two different sides to fulfilling your needs. They can either be fulfilled in a true sense or in a false sense. Explore how you can satisfy all six needs and the difference between true and false fulfillment.
Oh So Needy. Fulfilling The Six Human Needs
We’re going to talk about what you really need in life, what drives behavior in general, and how to get it. There are a couple of different ways of looking at human needs. We’ll go over the two most famous ones. We’ll talk a lot about how to apply it in your life and how to use this information to start seeing massive transformation in your life.
We’re going to be talking about two different worlds. We’re going to be talking about the world of psychology and the world of personal development, which are the two most popular models of human needs psychology. The first model, for those of you that are more familiar with the psychological perspective on this, was developed by Maslow. Maslow talks about the different types of needs that every individual has starting from your basic needs to your psychological needs to your self-fulfillment needs. His concept is in order to start to work towards those higher needs, like the needs of self-fulfillment, you must first meet all your basic needs and psychological needs first. It’s like a hierarchy, so you have to have the base before you can move into these other levels.
The model that we go into in the personal development world is very well-known and used by Tony Robbins. Tony Robbins talks about the six human needs. He identifies these as being the need for certainty, the need for variety or uncertainty, the need for significance, and the need for love and connection. These first four are what he calls the needs of the personality. Every human being finds a way to meet these first four needs whether it’s through gambling, whether it’s through drugs, whether it’s through going out and dating people. We all find a way to meet these needs. The last two needs are what we call the needs of the human spirit. These are the needs for contribution and growth. It’s about getting beyond the personality and stepping into almost like a spiritual place where you are wanting to contribute. You want to grow yourself, so you can give back to the world.
The first one that I like to start with is safety, security, and comfort because this one is the most primal of our needs. It’s hard to think about anything else when you don’t feel safe. That can start off with physical safety in terms of, “Are you in a place where you feel like you’re going to survive?” However, survival also goes emotionally. That’s where the security and comfort comes in. The body affects the mind, the mind affects the body. They’re in a circular relationship, so feeling emotionally unsafe can often make the body feel like you’re going to die. It’s important to satisfy this need and make sure that what you’re doing gives you that sense that you’re going to make it and that you know you’re going make it.
That’s where the certainty comes in. Think about relationships when they start to fall apart. A lot of the times, it comes in because one partner suddenly becomes uncertain that the other partner loves them, that the other partner trusts them, or that the other person is faithful. They lost that security, and so the comfort there has started to dwindle. On the opposite side, think about when relationships start feeling amazing. It’s when people start feeling safe, like they can do anything, and the other person will be there for them, that they can say anything and the other person’s going to be there for them and support them and trust them and love them and whatever happens, they’re there.
That sense of certainty develops that amazing sense of comfort, and from that comes a gorgeous relationship. The same thing happens at work. If you’ve ever been in a work situation in which you’re uncertain, “Are you going to get fired? Is your job going to lay you off even if you’ve done everything right?” If you’re a business owner, I know starting off, my whole life was going completely crazy because I had no idea whether I was going to be able to pay the bills the next month. I was totally uncertain. That’s the very first need.
What happens when you’re in a relationship or marriage for an extended period of time, you know exactly what’s going to happen every single day, you know how you’re going to wake up, you know how you’re going to go to sleep, you know the conversation or the argument, depending on the relationship that you’re going to have. You go to work, you do the same job, the same routine every single day and it’s been ten years now and nothing new is coming into your life. You start to feel this uncomfortable feeling of being bored with all the certainty in your life.
This is where we step into in the second need, the need for uncertainty or variety where we want to feel surprised, we want to feel on edge, we want to have that sense of not knowing that gets us excited about life because then we’re like, “What’s next?” This is where things where you can think about adrenaline or wanting to do things that are out of the norm for us. It’s like, “What are you doing? You’re going to go jump out of a plane.” It’s because you want to get that feeling in your body to release some energy. It’s understanding that the second need for variety is also very important. How we meet this need for variety can vary. When you’re coming from places like being in a job that’s very consistent, you’ve been doing it and making the same amount of money for X amount of years, and you’re doing the same routine every single day and nothing’s changed.
Oftentimes people will tend to develop certain addictions or habits because there’s a lot of variety in addictive behaviors. You don’t know what’s going to happen and you go out and you go gambling and you put $10,000 down and the adrenaline that you get when you’re sitting on your seat waiting for them to flip those cards feels so great. When you go out and you’d go drinking and you don’t know what’s going to happen because who knows who’s going to show up when we take this next shot. It’s understanding that how you meet these needs is also very important. Understand that the second need in contrast to certainty is the need for variety and/or uncertainty.
[Tweet “Even though you love something, if you do it a lot, you’re going to get bored of it. “]
Something that plays against all of us is called the Law of Familiarity. That is simply the more you experience something, the more bored with it you get. Something to keep in mind that even though you love something, if you do it a lot, you’re going to get bored of it. Have you ever listened to a song that you’re obsessed with? It’s so good and you’ve listened to it a hundred times in a row and you can never listen to it again. If you had your favorite dish, if you have pizza every night, you’re going to get bored of it. If you keep on going, you’re going to hate it. It’s important to understand that it can happen with anything and it’s important to keep that need satisfied.
The next one is love and connection. If you want to get a little bit more in depth about love, visit episode five. We all need love down to a very physical level. There was a research done by a Professor of Neuropsychology at the Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv. Her name was Ruth Feldman who studied premature babies who were born ten weeks early. She had their mothers touch them, caress them, and love them. They called it kangaroo care, for fourteen hours a day for fourteen days. They found out across the board that these babies who experienced that much love put on more weight, we’re healthier and performed better on all sorts of other biomarker tests than babies who were in incubators.
They tested these people again when they were ten years old and they found that they had a better stress management, better sleep, and better cognitive performance. They found out that love is a very real need. It’s not just an emotional thing, but it’s also an emotional thing. We need love, we need connection, we need to feel that coming from other people, even most importantly, from ourselves. It’s a driving force. Remember that the cosmic definition of love is to create life. How funny is it that when you go through a rough breakup, have you ever had that experience of feeling like you’re dying? That lack of love is very profound. On the other side, when you’re doing something you love or when you’re with someone you love or you’re in a place that you love, it’s like the lights get turned on, like colors are brighter, everything is better, food tastes better, air smells sweeter, the birds sound better. This love and connection is something that we all seek and it’s a very powerful driving force.
The reason why it’s love and/or connection is that oftentimes, when people have a lot of negative experiences with love where love becomes painful, instead of seeking that love, they’ll settle for that connection because that connection is safe. Instead of putting their heart out there and meeting somebody, you can think about when you were a teenager and you had a teenage crush, it was like, “This is the love of my life and I’m going to marry him even though I’m only sixteen.” Then you have that heartbreak and it’s like, “I don’t ever want to love somebody like that. I don’t know if I can handle that again.”
You settle for that connection of knowing people, meeting people, but never getting that close. It’s understanding that it’s finding a way to meet it, but it’s not meeting at the same level. There is a difference between love and connection. You can love somebody and you can also be connected to somebody. You can love your husband or your spouse or your wife and love them deeply and you can be connected to your brother, your mother, your father, your sister. It’s understanding the different dynamics of that.
The fourth and final need of the human personality is the need for significance. Please do not take this as being a negative need. There’s no such thing as a negative need. It’s part of our human needs. We want to feel special. We want to feel like we matter, we’re important, we’re significant. This is something that is encoded in all of us. It’s very important to make sure that we do feel this need of, “I matter. I’m important. I’m special. I mean something to someone.” How we meet that need for significance can be through a variety of ways whether it’s through being the best, having the highest achievements, doing more than anyone else.
If you’re living in an environment where the only way that you know to meet that need for significance is through violence, how quickly can you meet that need for significance through violence when you have total control over somebody else’s life? Not only that, but there’s so much variety because you don’t know what’s going to happen in that moment. This is understanding that that need for significance can go many different ways. It’s understanding how you are meeting that need for significance because we all need to feel unique, to feel special, to feel like we matter, to feel like we are important. If we can understand that that’s the foundation behind the need to feel that way, then it makes it a lot easier to figure out other vehicles to meet that same need.
Think about how good it feels when somebody else makes you feel so important. One of the beautiful things about being in a loving relationship is having someone who will go out of their way to make sure that you feel special. It’s an amazing thing. Each one of these needs can go a little sideways depending on how you satisfy them, like violence versus love. There’s a lot of wonder and a lot of amazing goodness in that need for significance. That covers the first basic four.
Growth is the constant need to get even better. That can come from so many different ways. Growth in your job could be getting even more responsibility. Growth could be learning even more or growing in a relationship of growing together as people and as a couple. Growing as a family or growing as an individual. Picking up wisdom, you’re going to be doing a lot of growing. You’ve probably already done a ton of growing during listening to this podcast. Growth is important because when people feel like they’re at the same level all the time, that starts also violating that need for variety and novelty and uncertainty.
They feel like they’re at the same level so they’re getting the same things and things are not progressing. In order to get different things in your life, you’re probably going have to grow. You’re going to have to know different things. You’re going to have to experience different things, go different places, taste different foods, all of these different ways in which you can grow and add even more to your life. They create this beautiful sense of motion in your life of going somewhere, of having a purpose, that’s amazing.
The last and final need is going into the needs of the human spirit. It is the need for contribution, the need to give. This is one of the needs that you can tap into once you’ve met those basic four of your human personality. This need for contribution, it’s this feeling like, “I’m here for something more. There’s got to be more. I’m here to give back.” When you do, when you finally figure out whatever it is that you were put on this earth to give back to the world, to the people, it’s almost like a feeling of fulfillment where it feels amazing to be able to, “Now that I feel so loved and special and I have a purpose to help other people find their purposes and that’s my contribution in the world.” It feels amazing to give the gift back to others. That’s the best way that you can think about contribution. It’s giving a gift to others.
We’ve gone over the six needs. Let’s talk a little bit about how to fulfill them. There are two different sides to fulfilling your needs. I like to think of them as true and false fulfillments. Let’s say you have hunger. You’re hungry, you need to eat something. A false fulfillment would be eating a potato chip or going for a bag of potato chips. You might think that it’s satisfying your need. You might even feel in the moment that it’s satisfying your need, but after you eat one potato chip or even a handful of potato chips, you feel great for a split second and then the void opens up again, and so you need to fill it again.
You reach for another hand of potato chips, and it gives you that satisfaction for that second, and it opens up again. It’s a false fulfillment because it’s almost like an illusion. It’s like a trick. The more you fall into it, the more you start creating an addiction. Have you ever eaten an entire bag of potato chips and still been hungry? Or you can eat a whole fast food meal, you ate 2,000 calories, how is it possible that after an hour, you’re starving again? Because it was a false fulfillment. On the other side, a true fulfillment for hunger would be eating a nice, big, delicious, home-cooked, nutritious meal where you eat it and you feel great for hours. That’s how you know it’s a true fulfillment. Each need can be fulfilled in a true sense and in a false sense.
What I want you to do is not just listen to it as we go through, but use these examples, see whether they apply or have applied in your life. Maybe there are some other ways in which you have fulfilled your needs in a true sense or a false sense. Why don’t we start off with the very first one? Safety, security, and comfort. We’ll go over the false first. If you’re in a relationship and you want certainty, then you could threaten your partner, you could try to squeeze them into doing something you want them to do. By applying that kind of pressure, you can become certain, “This person doesn’t want me to break up with him. I know if I bring this up, if I give him the ultimatum, because they love me, I know that they’re going to do this.” That could be a false fulfillment of certainty.
Another way of adding safety, security, and comfort is through running away from everything instead of going out. If you feel like you might be a little socially awkward, an easy way to be certain that you’re going to be okay is by never leaving the house. At least there, you know you’re king of the castle. There are ways that you can eject from life and therefore feel certain. I added certainty to my life by breaking up with people before they could break up with me. I was uncertain of how this person felt for me or whether I was doing the right things or not, and so I made it very clear, “I could not be hurt. I’m going to break up with you first.” That felt safe for me because being in the relationship and thinking, “Is this going to go south? Is she going tell me something I don’t want to hear,” that felt very unsafe. As weird as it sounds, I opted to be alone.
A big one for a lot of people is if I take this drug, or if I drink this drink, then I’m certain that it’s going to make me feel a certain way. You know that every time that you take that, whatever it is for that individual, whether legal or illegal, that it’s going to give that feeling. In a sense, it is a false feeling because it’s something external providing that internal change, but it’s not going to be lasting. The false isn’t something that’s going to last. It’s not sustainable whereas something that is truly fulfilling is going to be much more sustainable for a much longer period of time.
When an individual is seeking to relieve stress through drinking, they know that every time they drink, their problems are going to disappear. They’re not going to think about them anymore. They’re going to become incoherent, but it’s only sustainable to the extent that they’re drinking. As soon as they’re done drinking, it’s no longer sustainable. Those feelings come right back. In and of itself, that behavior, that vehicle, is not sustainable. It’s a false fulfillment for that need. How do you shift from a false fulfillment to one of a true fulfillment to one that is sustainable? How do you go from seeking outside of you that need and starting to go inside and say, “How can I feel this and create this need inside of me without having to seek external fixation?”
In contrast, it’s developing this place of, “Let me relieve the stress through sitting with my thoughts and meditating.” Instead of going out and drinking, it’s “Let me meditate, let me get my head clear, distress, take a nap, or go work out,” or something that is more sustainable where you’re releasing endorphins. It’s not something that you’re ingesting. It’s something that you’re literally changing the chemistry in your brain and your body. Now you’re meeting that need for certainty because every time that you do this thing and you’re doing more and more, your body has become conditioned in this and it’s going to be much more sustainable.
I love meditating. I love going to yoga. I love going to the gym. I’m certain that’s going to make me feel even better. That’s where it comes from. It comes from being certain, “My whole life can be falling apart, but I get that steel in my hands and I get into that zone. I’m certain I’m going to feel freaking good.”
[Tweet “Live in a place of love rather than fear that are moving you towards the reality that you want to experience. “]
It’s finding these different vehicles. When I say vehicle, what I’m referring to is a behavior. Finding a different behavior to meet that same need that is enabling you to move towards, in a sense, the compelling future or the life that you want to have. Do you want to experience that hangover and those bad choices and having to hear from your friends all the things that you did last night that you don’t remember and the hours of living with regret? Or do you want to create feeling peace and creating joy and going out and building your business and making sales? Creating those vehicles, living in a place of love rather than fear, that are moving you towards the reality that you want to experience.
A lot of these also come from yourself. One of the things that I love working on for myself and for other people is become certain of yourself. A lot of us are business owners and sometimes work is uncertain. Sometimes you don’t know how much money is going to come in or when it’s going to come in or what’s going on. However, you can become certain in yourself. You can learn that, “I know money might be tight this month, but I’m certain that I can learn. I’m certain that I can adapt. I’m certain that I can overcome anything that I put in my way.” That’s another true way of developing this certainty within yourself.
Finding something internal rather than external that can overcome the externals. Let’s go to uncertainty as the next need for variety and novelty. There is the false fulfillment. We’re talking about drugs and alcohol, that’s another way. When things become super monotonous, it’s very easy to switch things up. “Who knows what’s going to happen if I take sixteen shots of tequila, let’s go find out.” It can be going into different relationships with people who are unstable or putting yourself into situations that may even be dangerous to get that variety, to get that novelty. It could be sabotaging yourself when things go well for a long time. I know it sounds silly, but I’ve done it. When things go well for a long time and they become boring, why not sabotage it?
Let’s see what happens if we break things just for gigs. We’re on the other side on the true sense of variety and novelty. It could be finding different ways to love what you’re doing. I love cooking, that’s one of my hobbies, especially since I became a vegetarian and had to restart. It was almost like I knew nothing anymore in the kitchen. About every week, I tried to learn a different dish. I tried to learn new things all of the time, go to different restaurants, listen to different music, hang out with different people, all adding different varieties of positivity in my life, adding different experiences that add to me rather than take away. That also gives me the sense that my life is changing all the time. Even if every Sunday I cook, if I’m cooking a different thing, it keeps it new and fresh for me.
Identifying in your own lives what are the vehicles or what are the behaviors that you are currently using or that you have used up until this point or in the past to meet these needs because we all have that. We all have the needs for connection, for love, for certainty, for significance, for variety, and it’s looking to see and identifying up until this point, how have I met this need. Is this moving me towards or away from what I want to experience in life? As you start to identify and see the different vehicles that you’ve been using and start to conceptualize if this is moving you towards or away, then you have the ability to take back your power.
Diving into this concept of instead of going external and expecting things outside of us to change how we feel inside of us, we go internal. Because we have the ability to meet these needs all within ourselves, especially this need for significance. This need for love and connection where we can say, “Regardless of what happens outside of me, I know that I am so special. I know that I am more than enough. I know that I have some amazing freaking gifts, and I know that I make a difference in this world whether or not anyone else believes it.” Instead of seeking that external validation, we’re able to go internal and have this knowingness, this sense of abundance, where you were literally tapping into love.
You were tapping into your frontal lobe, and you are creating and expanding within yourself what it is you’re wanting to feel and meeting those needs within you, especially with love and connection where you’re able know that you are loved, that you already are this incredible human being, and you have all these amazing relationships. Everything outside of you becomes an extension of you. It’s no longer “If I lose this person, I’m going to die. I don’t know who I’m going to be without them” It’s, “Here’s another amazing person who is so fulfilled and so full of life and so loving and so admiring that when we’re together, we create a beautiful world. I love them whether or not they’re with me. I’m able to let go of trying to control it. I’m no longer having to be afraid of whether or not it’s here, I can step into a place of love and appreciate what it is.”
This brings up an important concept that we’re seeing more today, which is the role of social media, especially the Gen Z’s. Where we’re finding out that their needs for significance and love and connection are being falsely fulfilled left and right because they go online and they see, “How many likes did I get? I got 100 likes. I’m significant today.” Then the next day, “I only got two likes. I’m worthless. No one wants me. I’m not important.” When they get used to attributing their significance to this completely external factor that doesn’t even come from people, it comes from a phone or a laptop.
What they do is instead of seeking real love from people that they can touch and look at eye to eye, they settle for this false connection that they get from chatting with people on Facebook or feeling connected to people because they look at each other’s pics on Snapchat. It’s not real. That’s not real love and connection. That’s not even real connection at all, but if feels like it could be. Because of that false fulfillment, what we’re seeing is a very significant rise in depression in Gen Zs, loss of motivation and inspiration.
A lot of them have much less social lives and much fewer social interactions. They’re much more socially unconscious and awkward. We need true significance and true love and connection. If you find yourself falling into the social media trap, know that it’s a very real thing. You got to go out there and get some more real love and connection. Start with yourself first and break free from the need of significance coming in through how many people laughed at your joke online, how many laughing faces you got on your status or how many hearts you got.
To tie it all in so beautifully, it’s understanding to become unshakeable. To become the greatest version of yourself is to no longer be dependent on your external environment to meet your needs. It’s to be able to go internal and have a knowingness, to be able to tap into your frontal lobe, to activate that part of your brain, to step into a place of love, of creation. Know that no matter what happens outside of you, it has absolutely no control over what happens inside of you because your personal reality does not create your personality. Your personal reality is created by your personality. Own all that you truly are, own your greatness, step into the highest versions of yourselves, know the truth, and who you truly are. From that state, go out and cause an effect on the world, create what you want to experience, and learn how to live a life that you can love and enjoy.
That’s where the last two needs come into place beautifully. That’s what they’re for, growth and contribution. We want to add as much of this as possible into our lives because how better can you truly get to know your own greatness than by growing, by learning as much as you can, in skill, in wisdom, and getting as much as you can of that goodness of life into you and then sharing it with someone else. That’s something that’s important to us as coaches. I spend half of my day just about every day reading, studying, watching, listening to things, so that I can give back. That’s how I know about myself. I’ve learned so much about myself in this process and grown so much as an individual by helping other people grow. If you want to tap into your true greatness, that’s the way to go about it.
Look into your own life. What I like to do is start by going through the six needs and ranking them. Where are you? How satisfied are you in each one of these areas? Let’s say from zero to ten, with zero being you’re getting none of this, I feel none of it at all. Ten being so certain, feeling so safe and comfortable that nothing, not even a crack, can get in there. Give yourself a ranking on each one of those and as you’re doing it, think about how you’ve been satisfying those needs. If you have been satisfying those needs, are they true fulfillments or false fulfillments? Start coming up with ways that you can add even more true fulfillments in the places that seem like they need it. A good rule to go with is seven and above, you’re good; below it, needs some work. Anything five or below needs very special attention, and that’s okay.
I’ve been in a place in my life where I had like threes or twos across the whole board. You got to know where you are so that you can get to where you want to be. Be honest with yourself. No one else is got to look at that. You’re writing this stuff for yourself, but it’s important to find out where you stand with each one of these and start coming up with action plans. They don’t need to be massive. You don’t need to go from a two to a ten, but step it up. If you do find that you’re at a two somewhere, can you get yourself to a three or four? Move your way up the ladder and get yourself so that you’re even more fulfilled on each one of these progressively improving your life.
The first step to any real transformation to lasting transformation is truly becoming aware. That’s what this is all a process of, that’s you becoming aware of your own unconscious behaviors, your own unconscious pattern, your own unconscious programming, and being able to understand it and then reprogram it. Rewire your mind, and master your mind, and being able to manifest what it is you want to create in your life. We hope that you enjoyed this episode. You probably got more than you ever wanted to know about human needs, and we cannot wait to dive into spiral dynamics on the next episode. Stay tuned and we will see you all there.