Have you ever thought why the **** did I say that?
Why do I keep doing X when it makes me feel crap?
Why on earth did they do X when the better choice is clearly Y?
Sometimes human behaviour can be a little confusing or even extremely frustrating. Whether it be our own behaviour or the behaviour of those around us.
Well, I have a gift for you.
I want to remove that confusion and frustration and introduce you to a concept that changed the entire way I look at my life and the world. Not only did it assist me to understand myself at a much deeper level and find a lot more balance in my life, but it helped me to realise that my results in life simply reflected my level of awareness.
When I grew my awareness, I quickly changed my results.
Most importantly, this concept allowed me to have so much more compassion for myself, which in turn gave me more compassion for others. And because deeply fulfilling love cannot grow without compassion, guess what? My relationships skills and my ability to bring more love into my life, went to a level I never thought possible.
OUR 6 CORE HUMAN NEEDS
The 6 Core Needs were first described by coach Tony Robbins. With more than 40 years experience in the personal development industry, he’s somewhat of the godfather in this space. Tony has coached presidents, athletes, famous businessmen and women and many other highly influential figures around the world.
He explains that every single thing we do, every behaviour we exhibit is just an attempt to meet one or more of our core needs below. In brackets are a few variations that resonate with different people.
Connection & Love
Throughout our lives, we experience or choose different vehicles to meet these needs. Interestingly, any vehicle that meets 3+ needs has the capacity to be very addictive. Some popular addictive vehicles in our society include hobbies, exercise, work, travel, food, money, socialising, drinking alcohol, family, friends and intimate relationships.
Our mission in life is to choose multiple vehicles to meet our needs and to be conscious not to favour one vehicle too much.
Let’s look at how drinking alcohol and relationships meet our core needs as two examples. Both seemingly very different vehicles but both meeting four or more of our core needs.
Alcohol not only offers us certainty and comfort by allowing many of us to relax or “switch off” quickly and temporarily, but activities that involve alcohol generally offer a lot of variety, a chance to connect with others and an opportunity feel significant through talking. In other words, four of our core needs are met very efficiently, making it a highly addictive vehicle.
A new intimate relationship is another good example of an addictive vehicle.
There is a reason we call it the love bubble. The rush of a new relationship or even just the possibility of one is like winning the needs jackpot!
We generally get a pretty quick hit of our first four needs, to varying resourceful or unresourceful degrees. Very often we will also experience significant personal growth through our relationships, and in many cases a relationship might also be a vehicle for contribution through having a family, growing wealth together or sharing mutual goals that benefit others or the greater good.
So how can knowledge of these needs help us navigate life and love more skillfully you ask?
Firstly, a few key things you need to know:
- The first four needs Certainty, Uncertainty, Significance and Connection are like oxygen. We absolutely must meet these needs for survival. How sustainably and resourcefully we meet these first four needs will determine our daily disposition, contentment and general experience of life.
- In the absence of resourceful and sustainable vehicles to meet these needs (a healthy relationship, career we love, exercise, having savings etc), we will choose less resourceful or unsustainable vehicles to meet these needs (dysfunctional relationships, careers we don’t love, shopping, alcohol, drugs etc).
- Many less resourceful or unsustainable vehicles are ok in moderation but if they become primary or permanent vehicles, it’s time to reassess. Hence having multiple vehicles to meet our needs is the best way to navigate life. You may have heard the saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
- Certainty and Uncertainty are complementary needs. If we experience too much of one, the solution is to embrace the other. We often do this very unconsciously. E.g. if we’re experiencing a little too much comfort or certainty in life we might naturally seek a little more uncertainty or variety to balance things out.
- Significance and Connection are dependent needs. How resourcefully we meet our need for significance will determine how well we’re able to meet our need for connection and love.
- Meeting the last two needs Growth and Contribution is optional, but doing so is the key to experiencing more peace, happiness and fulfilment in life.
- We tend to favour one or two needs over others. These needs drive our decision-making. For example, some of us need to experience a little more Certainty or Comfort in life while others need a little more Uncertainty or Variety. This balance will look unique to everyone.
- We’re generally very attracted to people whose top one or two driving needs match our own.
- Regardless of which needs drive our decision making, if we do saturate or overly neglect any one need for too long, we won’t feel too good.
- Our needs can be met
– proactively through behaviour choice e.g. choosing to enter a relationship, choosing a career that suits our strengths, choosing to exercise or save money etc
– reactively through unpredictable life events, e.g. a job loss, natural disaster, perhaps a break-up or the death of a loved one.
RESOURCEFUL & UNRESOURCEFUL VEHICLES
Remembering the first four needs are like oxygen, we must meet them, let’s dive a little deeper and look at some examples of sustainable and resourceful ways to meet our needs versus some not so sustainable and resourceful ways. Please note the below examples are just that, examples, and do not form an exhaustive list, so open your mind and be curious about what resonates or doesn’t resonate with you.
The most sustainable and resourceful way to meet our need for certainty is to grow our self-esteem or self-belief. In other words, we are the primary vehicle to meet this need. We can do that by raising our self-awareness – exploring our gifts and strengths and focus areas for growth, uncovering what truly energises us, what we value, who we want to be and be around, and what we might want to achieve in this life. In short, we do some inside work.
Other common and resourceful ways to meet our need for certainty can come from our external environment. Most significantly, as mentioned earlier, healthy relationships with family, friends or an intimate partner can bring us a tremendous sense of security and comfort. Having a stable job, savings and comfortable living arrangements or healthy routines around exercising, eating, cleaning and being organised also help us feel a sense of comfort, security and safety.
Behaviours such as excessive over or under eating or exercise, excessive alcohol or drug consumption, excessive couch time or gaming, having strict and inflexible routines, trying to overly control or change others, staying in unhealthy relationships, jobs or living arrangements that don’t serve and support us, might all be examples of unresourceful ways to meet our need for certainty and comfort.
When we proactively stretch ourselves emotionally, mentally and physically, we meet this need. We might learn something new, embrace our fears, take calculated risks in love, life and career, book travel, socialise, exercise, take up new hobbies or sports, listen to music, or simply be more playful in life. Generally, anything that stimulates or challenges us and is often unpredictable in a healthy and non-harmful way, will help us meet our need for uncertainty and variety.
Jumping quickly or erratically between jobs, partners, friends, living arrangements, not committing to things or seeing things through appropriately, creating drama in our lives or our relationships, picking unnecessary fights, excessive eating, alcohol or drug use all meet our need for variety and uncertainty.
The most sustainable and resourceful way to meet this need is often misunderstood and underutilised. It’s by giving it to others! What does this look like? It means celebrating and validating other’s success, building people up instead of bringing them down, genuinely complimenting others from the heart and looking for the greatness in people, recognising people’s efforts. The assumption here is that when we make others feel good, by default, we feel pretty good! I know I do. Wouldn’t you agree?
On the flipside, it is perfectly healthy and normal to want to get significance from our external environment. In other words choosing jobs, hobbies or sports that we enjoy and feel skilful in or want to be skilful in. Choosing healthy relationships is an enormous source of significance. Within them, we’re able to give significance but also get significance. Jackpot. Surrounding ourselves generally with people that build us up and make us feel good is extremely important for our wellbeing and to meet our fundamental need for significance. Think about the first thing you do when you have good news. You reach out to your loved ones to share! Those we know will be proud of us, validate us, celebrate and share in our achievements.
When we continually blame, complain or default quickly to anger or arrogance, we’re exhibiting un-resourceful ways to meet our need for significance. When we keep telling our sad story to whoever will listen yet do nothing to change our situation is another example. At the extreme end, we might lie often or continuously judge others, even put others down in front of people to boost our sense of importance or superiority.
*An important reminder – as mentioned earlier Significance and Connection/Love are dependent needs. When was the last time you complimented, thanked or validated someone? If it’s been too long to remember, then you are likely meeting your need for significance in un-resourceful ways and will be struggling to connect at a deeper level with others. If so, it’s time to do some inside work and most importantly start giving more significance to others immediately. Making others feel good will make you feel good.
As humans, the need to connect and love is at our very core. We will go to extreme lengths to meet this need and should we be starved of it for too long, or not know how to cultivate it, we will hurt.
Learning to connect and love and champion ourselves is the most sustainable and resourceful way to meet this need. Much like our need for certainty and comfort, this is about taking the time to connect with who we are, who we want to be, and our higher purpose in life. Being conscious of our behaviour and actions towards ourselves and others and resourcefully acknowledging where we need to grow. How well we demonstrate compassion, love and kindness for ourselves will impact how much we can offer others. Connecting with animals and nature is also a wonderful and resourceful way to meet this need.
When we’re in a state of low self-love or lack self-esteem or love from those around us, we might attempt to meet our need for connection through excessive drama, neediness, drug taking, alcohol consumption or sexual promiscuity. We might choose to stay in unhealthy or even toxic relationships with partners, family or friends that are void of love, just to feel some level of connection. In the absence of love, we will settle for connection.
Growth and Contribution
This brings me to our two most important needs. The need for growth and contribution. We choose here to assume that there is no un-resourceful way to grow or contribute.
There is a saying “You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting.”
Proactively choosing to learn new things, stretch ourselves intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually makes us feel alive. When we stagnate or get into a meaningless routine, our heart and mind stagnate too, and it’s a fast track to feeling pretty bloody depressed. It’s not rocket science. Hence this need heavily dictates our happiness. Personal growth comes in many different forms and is unique to everyone. From taking up a new hobby to going for a promotion, to choosing to do some personal development work. Growth is also often experienced as we weather difficult or challenging times.
Contribution much like growth comes in many different forms. From volunteering to giving away your millions, to refining your strengths or starting a business you’re passionate about. It might simply be putting your heart and soul into your front garden so your friends, family and neighbours’ can enjoy it.
Choosing multiple resourceful and sustainable vehicles to meet our needs will greatly assist us to enjoy and find balance in life. More specifically, when we address our first four needs resourcefully and sustainably our capacity to open our hearts and minds to ways to meet our need for growth and contribution is greatly amplified. Above all else, we must be kind to ourselves and have compassion and patience for our and others behaviour. We are all trying to meet our needs the best way we know how, based on the level of awareness we currently have. I trust this insight might guide you to make more resourceful decisions moving forward when it comes to your needs.
Some questions for you…
What vehicles do you have in your life to meet your needs currently?
Are they predominantly sustainable and resourceful?
Or perhaps unsustainable and un-resourceful?
Are there any areas that need a little attention?
How could you more resourcefully and sustainably meet your core needs?
What next if you’re noticing unhelpful behaviour…
1) Find certainty and comfort in learning more about human behaviour. Read a personal development book, watch a video, do a course or go to a talk about this stuff! Take personal development up as a lifelong hobby. It is a very addictive vehicle. One you will not regret I promise.
2) Look to your network of family and friends and find models of more resourceful behaviour. If you feel comfortable reach out for support and guidance.
3) One of the fundamental ingredients we must offer ourselves if we want to make progress in life is compassion. You are doing the best you can with the awareness you have, so keep learning and having compassion for wherever you’re at. Without compassion, progress is neither fun or sustainable.
4) Consider getting out of your head and giving more to others. It’s a free and easy way to feel pretty good, pretty quickly. Respectfully, you are NOT the only one with problems. Giving to others generally reminds us of this, which in turn helps us meet our need for comfort, variety, connection, significance, growth and contribution! Did someone just spy an extremely addictive vehicle?!
5) Get in touch with a coach, therapist or counsellor for extra support to do some inside work and uncover more helpful behaviour.
Most importantly please remember that someone is sitting here feeling identical to you right now. Hence this model was created in the first place! So give yourself a break and choose to keep getting better at life.
If you found this content valuable and think it may help someone you know or love then please share it. Together let’s raise awareness, get more awesome and create ripples!