The six human needs

What are the Six Human Needs?

Originally presented by Anthony Robbins, it’s now globally accepted that our lives are determined by what are called ‘The 6 Human Needs’

1. Certainty/Comfort.certainty

We all want an amount of certainty in our lives. We need to be sure that particular things will, or won’t happen.  We want certainty that the car will start in the morning, that we can fulfil the requirements of our career, that all of our windows and doors are locked at night so we don’t get burgled, etc.

But certainty can also refer to things like our relationships with people, or concerns about our health, etc. Anything we need to be sure about, come under the certainty banner.

2. Uncertainty.

UncertaintyAt the same time, we also need an amount of UN-certainty.  We crave variety, or surprise (providing the surprise is a good thing. We obviously don’t like surprises like unexpected illness, or disease, etc.).

In fact Tony Robbins holds that the amount of excitement in your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with. The uncertainty in your life is what provides spice and adventure.

Uncertainty can come from extreme sports, or visiting a different bar, or restaurant each week. It can come from having many sexual partners, or ‘risky’ hobbies and pastimes.

3. Significance.

SignificanceDeep down, we all want to be important to someone. We want our life to have meaning and significance.

But don’t think that significance has to come from just those sort of things. If you point a gun at someone,you can bet that you’re significant to them. An extreme example, I know, but the point is, significance can be gained in many different ways.

4. Connection/Love.

Connection/LoveAt some level we all need to be loved and to love others. We want to feel part of a community. We want to be cared for and cared about.

Connection can come from work colleagues, romantic relationships, or even family and other people who have a role in our lives. Connection comes when you ‘just click‘ with someone.

5. Growth.

GrowthEvery living thing either GROWS, or DIES.  To become a better person, to improve our skills, to stretch and excel in our careers and personal lives requires us to grow as a person. It may be more evident in some than others, but it’s there for everyone.

Growth can come equally through learning a skill, or trying to be a better person generally. If you’re trying to be better today, then you were yesterday, then you’re growing as a person.

6. Contribution.

ContributionThe desire to contribute to others, to help others, to make the world a better place. For them to be effective, our actions must not only benefit us, but also benefit the people around us.

Try to ask yourself three questions about every action. You’re contributing if what you’re about to do is good for you, good for others and good for the World generally.

So, contribution can be something as simple as giving money to charity, or becoming a passionate environmentalist, or ‘eco-warrior’.


Everyone’s lives are determined by their requirements for these 6 needs, but which needs are most important will vary greatly.

If you were to ask someone who’s most important need is certainty, if they’d like to go skydiving with you, you’d most likely get a resounding NO! Ask the same question to a person who’s greatest need is uncertainty and the answer would most probably be the exact opposite.

Whatever your goals in life, it’ll be helpful to evaluate this list to better understand your personal motivations and examine which ones seem the most significant to you.

Then, look at what you do to fulfil those needs. It’ll help explain why you do what you do. It’ll also help you to understand why other people act the way they do.

It’s quite likely, that if you’re suffering from low self-esteem, or problems with confidence, then certainty and connection are probably quite high on your list.

Almost all your decisions will be made using your top two needs as a guiding force. Which two are top for you?

Once you’ve found your top two needs, then you can start to develop a strategy to make them work for you.

Let’s say, certainty is your top need. And you find it impossible to speak in a group of people you don’t know. The certainty you’re experiencing is probably the ‘certainty’ that you’ll mess up and make yourself look like an idiot.

So, make it a goal to say ‘hello’ to three strangers each day, for a week. After you’ve done it once, you can now be certain that you are capable of speaking to a stranger with out looking stupid.

Then, resolve to add “how are you today?” to one person each day. Immediately, you’ve started a conversation, another thing you can now be certain of. And, on top of that, you’ve added some unexpected growth as well.

By understanding your needs, you can formulate plans to help you improve any area of your life.

Got any thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

Steve, who's also the Founder of Teen Anxiety UK, has been writing books and articles about various aspects of Psychology since 2006.

For the last five years, he's main focus has been in helping build confidence and self-esteem.

His formal qualifications include Clinical Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, NLP and CBT.

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