Everything we do, we do to meet one or more of the six human needs.

According to Human Needs Psychology, developed by world-renowned psychotherapist Chloe Madanes and Anthony Robbins, there are 6 needs that are universal. They apply to you, me, and everyone we know. Although we all have these needs, we have them in varying degrees of importance and we all use different ways of meeting them.

Why should we stop to consider these needs and the vehicles we use to meet them? Because life as it unfolds is a reflection of our attempt to have our needs met, therefore if we wish to change a situation or even ourselves, we need to become aware of what drives our behaviour and interactions with others. From dysfunctional relationships to addictions and weight issues, the 6 human needs drive what many of us believe to be out of our control. Here are the six human needs:


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This is the need to feel secure, to have our basic needs met (shelter, food, clothing, a sense of knowing you have the resources to provide for your family), and the ability to avoid pain. Think comfort, security, stability.


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The need for different experiences; change, newness, surprises, fun and excitement. Variety can be negative (some surprises are “bad”).


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This is the need to feel special, to be unique, valued and to feel important. The need to be needed or respected.


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The need to connect to self and others, to relate and ultimately to give and receive love.


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The need to develop, learn and grow as a person. Self-improvement.


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The need to contribute or give back. Based on a connection to the world and something bigger than yourself. Making a difference. True contribution is selfless (not about leaving a legacy).

Now ask yourself, which of these six are your top two needs? Which two stand out as those that make you do the things you do? These drive your life! These are the two that give you meaning and satisfaction. You can rate from 1-10 how well each of these needs is currently being met in your life in order to get a picture of why you’re not feeling fulfilled in certain areas of your life and where you might want to place more attention. You can also see what’s working well.

It’s important to know what the first four needs, certainty, variety, significance, and love/connection are the basic needs of the personality (the human part of us). The last two needs, growth and contribution, are the needs of the spirit and need to be met in order for ultimate fulfillment. As Tony Robbins reminds us, “success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure”.

Human Needs psychology can be used to shed light on our patterns and choices. Let’s take someone who is depressed. They can’t seem to do anything to get out of this state and they keep going back to it. When in this state, this person may feel certain because they know what depression is; as awful as it is, it feels safe to stay there. In a subconscious way, it gives this person a means to connect with themselves, to turn in and give themselves love and attention. It also enables them to receive attention from others; loved ones rush to their side to help in any way, pick up the slack at home, etc. The need for significance is therefore met. Here we have a situation where three human needs are being met: certainty, love/connection and significance. And take this in:

Any time a behaviour or situation meets three or more of the six human needs, it qualifies as an ADDICTION.

Here’s the good news: You can choose to meet your needs in different ways. Someone who smokes to satisfy their need for variety and pleasure (a change of state) can choose a more positive vehicle such as an adventurous sport or infusing deliberate laughter into their daily life.

Most of us live our lives trying to meet our need for certainty (the safe, the known, the “sure”), but consider that the quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can tolerate. Why? Because ultimately, in this physical reality, nothing is certain except for change. So you might as well get comfy with uncertainty now! I know, uncertainty can be scary; but have no fear! If your needs for love (real, unconditional love), growth and contribution are met, you don’t even have to worry about meeting your need for certainty, variety or significance. These will be encompassed by the more spiritual needs automatically.

The bottom line is you can consciously choose which needs to put at the top of your list if your current top needs aren’t conducive to your happiness and fulfillment. You have control over what you prioritize. It takes some self-examination to do this work, but the results can be life-changing.

May all your needs be met in the highest and best way possible,