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The 6 Human Needs: Why We Do What We Do

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Perhaps one of the most timeless questions in the area of psychological sciences or therapeutic medicine is why do human beings do the things they do? Esteemed life coach Anthony Robbins attempts to answer this question in the form of the 6 human needs. While it is true that every individual is unique, he explains that we all share these six common needs that drive our behaviors.

1. Certainty: the need to be assured that you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for adventure and exploration of the unknown; the need for change.
3. Significance: the need to feel uniquely important, special or needed
4. Connection/Love: the need to connect with others and feel a sense of closeness with someone or something
5. Growth: the need to broaden one’s capabilities, capacity or understanding
6. Contribution: the need to feel a sense of giving back to others and/or the community; supporting and helping others.

What differs with each individual is the way in which these needs are met. For example, a person striving to meet their need for certainty may adopt a controlling lifestyle where they must be aware of and in charge of every aspect of their life. Others may achieve this need by relinquishing control and adopting a philosophy of faith. The desire for human significance can likewise be met in either constructive or destructive ways: some may achieve significance via healthy competition while others can only attain it by tearing down the people around them. Essentially, all dysfunctional behaviors emerge when one or more of these needs are inconsistently met. In fact, gang violence for example, follows from destructive drives intended to meet each of these needs. An individual that joins a gang is made to feel significant, as if his contribution to the gang is important and he is needed; he lives with the certainty of his place in this newfound family that makes him feel loved and also achieves uncertainty from the violent, variable lifestyle that comes with being in a gang.

With this in mind, it becomes important to understand these needs and consider how you choose to meet them. If you find they are destructive then you can choose to change them to healthier behaviors that will ultimately lead to patterns of lasting fulfillment. Start by asking yourself:

1. Which of these six needs do you focus on and value the most?
2. What are the ways (good and bad) in which you meet these needs?

Nicole Daniel
Summer Intern
Forensic Chemistry/Psychology Double Major
Loyola University New Orleans Class of 2017

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