The 6 Basic Human Needs


Aug 30

The 6 Human Needs We All Share

Deep at the core of our behaviours, thoughts and feelings lies one thing: a human need that we must fill.

These needs are what drive all our actions. They are the reason we do what we do, why we make the choices that we do. They aren’t necessarily ‘bad’ or ‘good’, but can influence our behaviour in both negative and positive ways.

For true growth and fulfillment, it’s essential that we understand what particular needs are driving us. 

Over his nearly 40 years as a personal performance coach, Tony Robbins has discovered the 6 core human needs behind everything we do. 

Tony Robbins’ 6 Human Needs

1. Certainty: assurance that you can avoid pain and gain pleasure.

2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli.

3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed.

4. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness with someone or something.

5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding.

6. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others.


What do these mean?


If your core driving need is certainty, you need to feel safe and secure. 

“In order to live a life filled with certainty, your life has to stay the same—a nearly impossible expectation to fulfill.” says Tony.

“So, you artificially control your environment by changing your expectations or by avoiding new situations or people. You find ways to positively motivate yourself and you aim to consistently deliver the same or better results to receive more recognition.”

While this process reassures you that your actions with either avoid pain or gain pleasure, they can also set you up for failure. 


If your core driving need is variety or uncertainty, you may be constantly moving on to something new.

You won’t be afraid of taking risks and facing the unknown, but you run the risk of not being able to commit to a job or relationship—and it can be hard to be satisfied when you are always looking for the next thrill.


If significance is one of your two core needs, then you probably crave recognition.

“Recognition provides you with a sense of validation that makes you feel seen, special and/or needed,” says Tony. “Recognition is a major driving force behind human behaviour because it provides us with a measurement system to analyse and track our significance.”

And while seeking recognition can be a good motivator, it can also lead to drastic measures if you can’t find a positive way to fulfill this need, such as substance abuse, picking fights, or causing drama in relationships.


If this is your core need, you are always striving for a closer connection.

While this can lead to deep and meaningful relationships, it can also cause you to put everyone else’s needs before your own.


If this is your core need, you are always striving to be better and do more.

You are probably seen as successful by those around you—but there is a danger that you may not be able to recognise your own achievements and you may be always moving on to a new challenge as a result. 

A constant need to keep growing can also make it difficult to properly relax and manage stress effectively.


If this is your core need, you are likely a generous and thoughtful person.

As Tony says, “the secret to living is giving,” and you likely understand this on a deep level and seek to make valuable changes in your community. The risk here is that you may neglect your own needs, and the needs of those in your immediate vicinity, such as your family.

All of these needs have both a positive and negative side. The key to using them effectively is not to judge yourself for what you see as your needs, but to understand how they motivate your behaviour and use that understanding to more effectively set goals and implement positive changes.

“Understanding these needs, and which ones you are trying to meet in any given moment, can help you embrace the power of growth and create new patterns that lead to lasting fulfillment,” says Tony.

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More from Tony:

Toy Robbins Performance Coach

6 Ways to Stay Motivated

How to Prepare Your Children for Success

The One True Key to Happiness

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