According to human needs psychology there are several basic truths that are shared by all of mankind, all over the planet, regardless of sex, color, or creed. Tony Robbins, my primary mentor in the field of Strategic Intervention, teaches that there are six human needs that every person must meet in order to feel fulfilled at even the most basic levels.
People will use different words, at different times of their lives, to describe their need to fulfill each of these essential human needs; and the order which they might prioritize the fulfillment of these needs will change throughout their lives; however these words serve to describe the basic category of needs, which can then be expanded upon as sub-categories that exist within the basic premise that is defined as The Six Human Needs.
I learned about the Six Human Needs as taught by Tony Robbins, while attending Robbins-Madanes Training, where I trained as a Strategic Intervention Coach, under the Mastery of Tony Robbins, world-renowned psychologist Chloe Madanes, and Strategic Intervention Coach Mark Peysha.
Certainty is the feeling of security that comes from knowing that things like your home life, relationships, and employment situation are stable. When you feel confident that key elements of your life are certain, you are more comfortable and able to enjoy a better sense of stability.
Uncertainty is the need for variety, to experience new things that are different, whether it is a stimulating conversation, dining out at a new restaurant, reading a good book, watching a new movie, or jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.
Significance is the need to stand out from the crowd and be recognized as the unique and special person that you are; it is the feeling that comes from being recognized and respected by your partner, family, friends, and other people who you come in contact with.
Love / Connection is about feeling like we belong to something bigger than just ourselves; every person on earth wants to be accepted and loved to some degree.
Growth is about improving ourselves, learning new things, stimulating our senses, expanding our understanding and experience of the world around us.
Contribution is the need to do things that improve the lives of others, without expecting anything in return; it is about being selfless and contributing to the betterment of the world around us.
The desire to meet each of our basic six human needs is the unconscious driving force behind practically all of our behavior. If you begin to stop and observe the things you do, and really begin to examine the reasons that drive that behavior, you will quickly discover that everything that you do, you do in an attempt to meet one or more of your six human needs.
And if you stop for a moment to observe the behavior patterns of other people, you will quickly discover that practically everything that they do or say is an unconscious attempt to satisfy one or more of their six human needs.
When you look at a couple that is arguing, do you ever wonder what they are fighting about? Or more specifically what they are fighting for? Don’t bother asking them, because they aren’t likely to tell you the truth; they’ll just provide you with a cover story that is designed to protect their real feelings, and which serves to justify all the emotion that they are feeling at the moment.
Regardless of what a disagreement, argument, or fight seems to be about on the surface; the odds are that each person involved in the dispute is fighting to protect one or more of their six human needs.
Imagine for a moment what role the man and the woman involved in this “heated debate” are playing; are they acting out in the role of husband and wife? Or perhaps it is an ex-husband and wife…
The two adults might be acting out their roles as father and mother; step-father and mother; father and step-father; boyfriend and girlfriend; but one thing is clear, the children are caught in the middle, and they are also going to play their different roles in the outcome of this scenario, unwittingly or not.
What is the fight about? And does it really matter what the fight is about if the two people involved in the argument are merely trying to protect their need for Certainty, or Significance, or Love and Connection?
And what if everything that is being said, is merely a cry for help, that is being made out of fear, because they are afraid of losing their sense of certainty, significance, or love and connection?
Or perhaps one or both of the people involved in this argument have learned that the fastest way that they can feel like the most significant person in the room, is to start a fight? Whichever one is screaming the loudest, automatically becomes the most significant person in the room…
And this sort of thing can also fulfill our need for Variety because we never know what is going to happen when two people start arguing, do we? And then there is always the possibility that they might have great make-up sex when the fight is over… or perhaps they will break up, she will throw him out of the house, he will leave, and they can both be right about the fact that the other person never loved them; that they were never right for each other; and that all of this was a big waste of time!
And for a while, they might feel certain about all of this; they might decide that this is the kind of instability (variety) that they don’t need in their lives; that they sure showed him/her (significance); and then they will seek the love and connection of their children, to fill the void created by the loss; as a reflection of their feeling unloved and insignificant; and their children will make them feel significant, they are certain about that; children provide unconditional love, for a while, until they become teenagers… and then perhaps they will act out this cycle of trying to fulfill their six human needs also.
Whether we deem an action or behavior to be positive or negative, is largely determined by how it makes us feel, the impact that it has upon our lives, and the impact that it has upon the lives of the people who we interact with.
For every negative action or behavior, there is an opposite action or behavior that we can deem to be positive; but in order to choose whether we want to fulfill each of our six human needs in a manner which is positive or negative, we first have to stop and evaluate our behavior and determine whether it is affecting our lives in a positive or negative manner.
This can be a challenge since about 95% of what we do happens without conscious thought; we tend not to stop and think about how we’re going to respond to an emotional stimulus before reacting to it, we merely react to it… and then all too often find ourselves in the midst of a situation that we might not know how to get out of or stop.
But what would happen if the man or the woman pictured above, simply decided to stop arguing for a moment, and be completely honest about what they are fighting for? For instance, what if the man stopped and said “Honey, I’m really sorry, I don’t know what we’re fighting about, and I certainly don’t want to fight with you, because I love you, and I love our children, I love our family, and all of this scares me, it makes me feel like I might lose you, or that I might lose the love that you have for me…”
And to be honest, she might not hear a single word he’s saying, at least not right away, because the odds are that in her subconscious mind, she is fighting for her survival, to protect her family, to protect their way of life… and she’s not thinking logically about it, she’s merely responding to the rush of chemicals that began to flood her system, and she’s not likely to hear things clearly at first.
Now we can get into a deep discussion about the difference between men and women, how their brains are wired differently, how we experience different chemicals, and how men hear words while women feel the meaning of the words; however the truth is that it practically all human behavior boils down to an attempt to meet each of our six human needs, and the manner in which we have learned to go about getting it done.
The purpose of this article is to merely introduce you to the basic concept of the six human needs as defined by Tony Robbins, we’ll explore specific instances of how to proactively fulfill each of our six human needs in future articles.
Please take a moment to comment below, let me know what you think about the Six Human Needs and how they have affected your life in the past, or how you think understanding the Six Human Needs will help to improve your life in the future, and possibly even what you would like me to write about next…
Is there something that you struggle within your life that you would like to improve? Contact Todd for a private coaching session.