Understanding the 6 Core Needs: Why We Do What We Do

February 27, 2019

Categories: Need

Why do you do the things you do? For most of us, we aren’t sure. Day to day, we pretty much do our thing and go through the motions. We might have certain goals, like to get married or make a lot of money. But most of us haven’t done an in-depth analysis of what we ultimately hope to gain from our daily activities.

Tony Robbins says we have 6 core needs as human beings. The first 4 needs are basic or foundational. Almost everyone has these needs to some degree. The last 2 needs are less foundational, but still important. Some people don’t even think about the last 2 needs, but they can be game-changers for our life satisfaction and sense of meaning.

As I walk through the 6 needs, think about how each one shows up in your life. How important is this need to you personally? What activities are you doing that are trying to meet this need?

6 Core Needs

  1. SecurityWe all need to feel safe and secure. This is perhaps our most basic need. We all have a need to feel safe from danger and protected from the outside environment or other people who might try to harm us. We have a need for certainty—we want to know what to expect tomorrow, next week, and next year.
  2. VarietyThis is the flip side of the first need. When things are too certain, there’s a possibility for boredom to set in. We also have a need for variety. We need new and different experiences. We want to change, shift, and experience new people and places.
  3. SignificanceWe all have a need to feel significant and important. We want to feel as if our lives matter and mean something. We want to feel valued and respected. We need our work and daily activities to contribute to something important.
  4. Love/connectionWe all have a need to give and receive love. We need connection with others. We need relationships where we can be open and honest about our struggles. We need people to support us when we are struggling. It’s difficult to go through life alone. We need a team. For many of us, this need involves a committed sexual relationship with a spouse or partner.
  5. GrowthMany of us have a need to grow and expand ourselves. We want to learn new things and improve. We need to push our boundaries, grow, and develop as people. We want to create, and expand our business or work life.
  6. ContributionMany of us have a need to contribute or give back. We don’t just want to hoard our money or resources, but we want to use what we have for the good of others. We want to help those people who are less fortunate than we are, and make the world a better place for everyone.

What do you think of the 6 core needs? Are all the needs important to you? Are some more important than others? Why do you think that is the case for you?

What Need Are You Trying to Meet?

Also, think about something you’re really trying for in your life. For example, maybe you’re trying to make more money. Why are you trying to do that? What need do you hope making more money will meet? It’s important to really think about this, because sometimes we try to do something to meet a particular need, but it doesn’t actually work out very well.

For example, many people try to make more money because they want to feel significant. They think that if they make a million dollars, or drive a fancy sports car, THEN they will feel significant. Unfortunately, money doesn’t often work to meet the need of significance. We always need a little more. Make sure the activity you are doing will actually meet the need you are hoping to fill.


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