The 6 Core Needs You Didn’t Know You Needed

Uncategorized Sep 01, 2020

We tend to think we know what we need in life: food, water, and shelter. Or, to take a more enlightened view, we know we need meaning, love, and fulfillment.

On a daily basis, we know we need to get the kids ready for school, send out that email that’s been nagging us, get to the doctor’s on time.

But there are actually six core needs that many of us aren’t even aware of – or rather, we might be aware of them, but we don’t how much they drive our actions and determine our level of happiness.

These six needs operate at the most fundamental level of our being. They drive us toward certain goals and behaviors and away from others, causing us either deep joy or deep frustration and sadness.

What are these six needs, you ask?

Let’s take a look at them now.

1. Certainty. We all need some level of consistency, predictability, knowing what to expect – especially when it comes to money, home life, and core relationships.

2. Significance. We all need to feel like we’re important – that our presence in the world matters.

3. Variety. Balancing out the need for certainty, we also need novelty, excitement, and unpredictability.

4. Connection, also known as love and belonging. We need to feel connected to the people in our lives.

5. Contribution. Knowing that we are giving back, that what we’re doing is helping others and making the world a better place in some meaningful way.

6. Growth. We need to experience expansion – of ideas, understanding, our own capabilities and thoughts.

While everybody on this planet does need all six of these, there are some that we tend to seek out, unconsciously or consciously, more than others. When we take that too far, we fall into pattern of stress, depression, failure, feelings of frustration and despair, and “not-enough”-ness.

The good news is, when we begin to recognize our own tendencies, we can choose to shift our focus, and get all our needs met – in a way that will ultimately bring us happiness.

Here’s how that works.

The “lower” needs

The first four needs on that list – certainty, significant, variety, and connection – can easily turn into trouble spots.

This can be a tricky subject, because we do need these. The trouble starts when we rank those four needs more highly than contribution and growth, or when we take them to an extreme.

I learned this in a big way soon after I moved to LA. I spent my days auditioning and rehearsing and working my butt off, and begging the acting gods to get me a role on TV. Meanwhile, I was stressed out – not only from all the rejections actors get, but also from my frenetic schedule and my desperation to “make it.”

Around that time, I began studying mindset – and that’s how I discovered these six core needs. And I learned, to my shock, that I was caught in a vicious loop of Significance and Certainty.

At first, that didn’t make sense. Significance, that was obvious – I wanted to be a star. But certainty? I’d just gambled my whole life – my relationships, my career, my savings – to try to make it in acting. But the truth was, I was trying to control the uncontrollable – namely, my chaotic schedule, and how others saw me.

Soon, I began to understand. In order to feel secure, I tried even harder to attain significance. But all that did was create angst and frustration, and it totally robbed me of my energy.

Suddenly I had a new understanding of exactly WHAT was stressing me out – which meant I now had the power to change it.

So I began to reframe. I looked at my crazy schedule and my goal of acting as an opportunity for growth and contribution, not certainty or significance.

How did I do that?

I adjusted my self-talk.

Instead of saying, Why don’t these people like me? Will I ever be famous?, I asked myself powerful, mindset-shifting questions like, What can I learn from this? How can I use my time in the car more productively? What are some ways I can improve myself and help others?

After that, I still drove across town for last-minute auditions; I still worked as hard as I could to succeed. The change was almost entirely internal – yet it made a huge difference. I felt my energy return, and my stress level soften. I felt good again.

Which, paradoxically, made me better at acting.


The fact is, all four “lower” needs have their pitfalls. Significance can be dangerous because it’s based on what other people think about us. It’s entirely external, which leaves us powerless. (This is often why obsessive passion can be so painful. If you missed last week’s blog on that, check it out here.)

Certainty is dangerous because it keeps us well within our comfort zone – and we all know, that’s not where we reach our fullest potential. As Tony Robbins, the originator of these six needs, said, “All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone.” Or, more darkly, “Comfort zones are plush-lined coffins.”

An unchecked need for love and connection can result in staying in relationships that aren’t serving them, which at best can make things stressful, and at worst can keep them in cycles of abuse.

The need for variety, when taken too far, can lead people to seek out extremes, to avoid commitments to things or people that could benefit them.

(If you want to go deeper into what it means to seek out those needs too much, scroll down to check out my special offer.)

The “higher order” needs

The way I broke my cycle of stress was to shift my focus toward growth and contribution.

Seeking out these two will always bring us the most fulfilment. They bring us harmonious passion (again, from last week’s blog), which gives us peace, joy, and satisfaction.

Our needs will shift over time. As we grow, many of us learn that chasing significance doesn’t fulfill us, and we naturally learn to pursue something more meaningful, such as personal growth. The older we get, though, the more likely we are to fall into the pitfall of security. We stop taking risks – and then we stop growing.

That’s why it’s so important to be aware of these core needs, and to understand the role they play in our lives.

So how can you put this to use in your life?

Which of the six needs stand out to you?

Which one or two seem to be pulling you, right now?

What if you were to more deeply seek out growth and contribution?

What would you do differently? How would that feel?

Naturally, there’s WAY more to be said on all these needs, and how they impact our actions and feelings. If you want to go deeper into who you are and what you need, I’m offering a special one-on-one session where you can do just that. For a limited time, you can sign up for Transform Your Life: Tap Into Your Core Needs, a single coaching session where we’ll take a deep dive into how these needs are impacting you, and how you can shift into the higher needs so you can perform better and feel amazing.

Don’t wait, because this offer is only good until September 15! Reply to the email to schedule your session now.

Go out and shine.


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