The 6 Human NeedsMay 25, 2021
Have you ever caught yourself snacking in the pantry for no reason? You weren't actually hungry, yet something habitually brought you there.
Most often when we hear these types of stories come from our clients, there is one simple question taht get down to the root of what caused the unconscious behaviour:
"What need was not being met?"
There are 6 core needs that every human has. Without awareness around what those needs are and how we strive to fill them, it is easy to feel a lack of fulfillment.
If you are feeling unfulfilled, you may find yourself reaching for sugary treats, snacks, or something else to binge such as television or alcohol.
What Are The 6 Human Needs
The six human needs are:
1. Love & Connection
5. Uncertainty & Variety
Certainty, uncertainty & variety, significance, and connection & love all shape personality, and can give some insight into who you are as a person.
Whereas, growth and contribution shape our spiritual needs.
In each phase of your life, you can rank these six human needs from 1-6, or which is most important to least important.
The ranking will change based on the circumstances in your life, but there will likely be a common through line in the way you prioritize.
In childhood, as humans begin to discover their needs, and what they should and should not do in order to have them met, the initial ranking is formed.
The priority of needs often changes as you move from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, even though the initial prioritization may be quite deep-seated.
The Six Human Needs Explained
Love & Connection
Having love and connection as one of your top needs means you prioritize real, abundant relationships with others.
You easily and often give love to the people in your life, potentially even when you have not given the proper love to yourself.
Intimate relationships fuel you and give purpose and meaning to your life.
You have deeply fulfilling connections with others and you are always looking to find a deeper relationship with someone or something in your life.
To ensure you are meeting the need for love and connection in your life, be willing to be more vulnerable with the people in your life, and communicate this need to friends, family members and intimate partners.
Ask the people in your life how you can support their needs of love and connection as well.
Significance means your desire to be recognized and seen in your life.
When you are recognized through your work, achievements, impact, and acts of service, you feel fulfilled and important.
If this is one of your top needs, you want to feel validated and unique in comparison to those around you.
You may be perfectionistic, competitive, or potentially overcommit in order to have a high opportunity for success.
If not channeled properly, you may seek significance by starting arguments, taking shortcuts to recognition, or by finding peers to surround yourself that you view as less skilled or less accomplished, so that you seem more important in contrast.
When channeled properly, the desire to be significant can lead to great success in your career or endeavours.
With the understanding that everyone desires to be significant in some way, notice how you can compliment and give recognition to the achievements of others.
You are independent, with an ongoing desire to be better and achieve more in your life.
Additionally, you are most likely great at everything you set out to do in your life, and often are searching for the next level.
Although you are constantly pushing boundaries around what you are capable of, you may not always finish everything you start.
It is also common that someone with a high priority of growth in their life will find one area of growth more important than others. This may lead to having great success in one area of your life, but being in a place of lack in others.
Finding ways to control your emotions, continually learning new skills and constantly challenging yourself are great ways to fulfill the need of growth in your life.
You prioritize contribution to others, and being in service to the world around you.
It is important to you that you are able to make a big difference to the people and things you are of service to.
You focus on acts of service, but may neglect to be in service to yourself first. Your cup must first be full before you can truly and consistently fill up the cups of others.
If contribution is one of your top needs, you may find yourself volunteering often, and finding new and exciting ways to give more fully to the people that need you.
Be cognizant of keeping strong boundaries, as it may be easy for people take advantage of your deep desire to show up for others.
Having strong boundaries allows you to avoid burnout, while still being devoted to contribution.
Uncertainty & Variety
If uncertainty and variety is one of your top needs, you are often looking for new experiences, meeting new people, and searching for that next adventure.
Even if you prefer familiar friends, places and experiences, the need of uncertainty and variety is in everyone.
It can be fulfilled in other, less extreme ways, such as taking a way while driving home, trying a new recipe, or exploring books, resources, or content that you are unfamiliar with.
People with uncertainty as a top need are always up to do something new, and are often outgoing.
They may end up having poor planning skills, or having overcommitted in the excitement of new things.
Be aware of the potential for avoiding intimacy or being seen with this need, as it may feel easier or more comfortable to lean on the desire for variety and fall into a negative pattern.
You need to feel safe and certain about your future. You may be a "home body", preferring steady income, interacting with the same people, and following a comfortable routine.
If this is one of your top needs, you feel best when you have a plan, and know everything will (for the most part) stay the same.
When certainty is a top need, your actions are based on avoiding pain and gaining pleasure.
Although you are very organized, and great at scheduling, you likely avoid scheduling in anything new or that you are not totally comfortable with.
On the far end of the spectrum, the desire for certainty can lead to obsessive behaviours.
You may struggle to take risks, meet new people, or have new experiences, and changes in your plans may feel like the end of the world.
To ensure this need is met, find a healthy balance of having an empowering routine, while still finding subtle ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
How to Use the Six Human Needs
Every single person has all six human needs, but the difference from person to person is how they are ranked based on importance.
If you are lacking fulfillment in your life, it may be time to check in with all six needs.
The ranking of your needs may have changed, without a shift in your behaviour and routine, which may be causing you to feel unfulfilled.
Additionally, when you are cognizant of the ways you fulfill each need in your life, you can get to a deeper understanding of why you do what you do.
Often, when a need is not being met, especially one that is a priority in your life, you may use unconscious coping patterns.
Thinking back to the original example, if one of your top needs is certainty, the desire to reach for sugary treats may be coming from an unconscious lack of certainty.
Perhaps your whole routine was thrown off due to a kid or partner being sick, and that left you unplanned and ungrounded.
Without the awareness that certainty is important, you may continue that feeling of being ungrounded all the way to the pantry.
You may feel certainty in the dopamine that is triggered when you consume sugar, so you find a way to create certainty habitually.
Once you understand what your needs are, it is easier to feed them in a healthy way.
How to Determine Your Top Human Needs
Take a few moments to rank the six human needs from one to six, with one being the most important.
When you have them ranked, write down one or two sentences explaining why you ranked them in that order.
Be honest with yourself in this practice, as it will only truly be helpful if you are in truth.
This practice should be done again after major life changes, or when you feel stagnant and unfulfilled.
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