Have you ever taken a moment to reflect on why you do what you do?
Human behaviour is a fascinating subject, and I have been studying it for years. One thing I’ve discovered is that underlying every behaviour is a powerful force, a feeling, an energy and this being an emotion. These internal forces drive our actions and behaviours, and often, they stem from a core need and whether that need is being met or not. The fulfilment or lack of fulfilment of these needs directly impacts our feelings, which, in turn, shape our behaviours. Understanding this connection is essential in navigating our lives and making conscious choices that support our well-being. Failing to fulfil these needs can lead to unresourceful and self-sabotaging behaviours that have a negative impact on our lives, while meeting them leads to inner happiness and fulfilment.
Life is, ultimately, about the connections we make, the relationships we foster, the joy we experience, and the memories we create. Gaining a deeper understanding of your human needs can help you establish meaningful goals and align your behaviours to support your journey. It’s about living consciously, recognizing these needs, and making decisions based on fulfiling them.
In my experience with coaching, when we want to change a behaviour we need to look at the underlying feelings, beliefs, or core needs, to get to the root cause that is driving the behaviour.
Often we look to change the behaviour, which in most cases doesn’t last long, for example a 30 day diet or joining a gym to lose weight. Or using nicotine patches to stop smoking.
Let’s explore the six core human needs, that have an impact on why we do what we do. It’s important to recognize that there are positive and resourceful ways of getting these needs met, just as there are negative and unresourceful ways to fulfil them. These core needs have been modified from the ideas proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow and presented by Life Coach Tony Robbins.
1. Certainty: This is the desire for comfort, stability, security, and safety. However, it’s important to recognize that seeking certainty through unresourceful behaviours can hinder our well-being. Such behaviours may include overeating, turning to addictions, engaging in emotional eating, or seeking excessive control. Instead, we can fulfil our need for certainty in positive and resourceful ways. By having a consistent healthy routine of sleep, exercise and nutrition enables you to have a solid foundation to feel secure.
2. Uncertainty/Variety: This need includes spontaneity, adventure, excitement, new experiences, and change. However, when we seek uncertainty through unresolved behaviours, such as emotional eating, addictions, creating drama, or engaging in conflict, it can be detrimental to our health and relationships. To fulfil our need for uncertainty in a positive manner we can learn a new hobby, engage in spontaneous date nights, travel, or join a club.
3. Significance: We all want to feel important, unique, and special, to know that we matter. However, seeking significance through unresolved behaviours like consistently talking about your illness or pain, engaging in self-sabotaging behaviours, bullying, or seeking validation through violence or failure is not beneficial. Positive ways to fulfil our need for significance include learning something new, developing a talent or skill, contributing to humanity, engaging in meaningful work, or volunteering.
4. Love and Connection: We are wired for connection and require love, care, and togetherness. However, seeking love and connection through behaviours such as dominant and controlling attitudes, helplessness, focusing solely on personal problems or illness, emotional eating, or addiction can lead to failed relationships and loneliness. To fulfil our need for love and connection in a positive manner, we can create deeper and more meaningful friendships, communicate our needs to our partners, connect with nature, practice spiritual rituals like prayer or meditation, and engage in acts of kindness towards others.
5. Growth: If we’re not growing, we’re stagnating. Personal growth and development encompass various dimensions of our being—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Seeking growth through behaviours like sliding back into destructive habits, being controlling or manipulative, lying, or giving in to bad habits is counterproductive. Positive ways to fulfil our need for growth include studying and learning something new, personal development, learning a musical instrument, or taking up a new hobby or sport.
6. Contribution: The desire to give, donate, make a difference, and serve others without expecting anything in return. However, seeking contribution through behaviours such as gossiping, bullying, engaging in destructive activities, or contributing to the harm of others is detrimental. Positive means of contribution include volunteer work, community service, supporting charitable causes, visiting nursing homes, and making meaningful donations.
These six fundamental human needs drive our behaviour. I invite you to reflect on these needs and consider whether you are meeting them in a resourceful or unresourceful way. By consciously choosing positive ways to fulfil these needs, we can lead lives of purpose, happiness, and genuine connection.
Wishing you a fulfilling and rewarding journey ahead!