6 Basic Human Needs

We have all read and heard about Maslow’s Hierarchy of human needs. In 1943 Abraham Maslow proposed an idea in his paper “A theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review journal. According to his proposition, our behaviour is governed by the level in which we are in different stages of our life. Human motivation, according to his theory moves through a pattern starting with “physiological needs”, “safety needs”, “Need for belonging and love”, “social needs” or “esteem needs”, and “self-actualization need”

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

It is indeed true that unless we aren’t well-fed and secured we won’t bother about recognition or esoteric needs. Love and belongingness is placed rightfully in the centre of the pyramid as that is required whether we are in the survival mode our spiritual. Maslow’s idea was fully expressed in his 1954 book, Motivation and Personality.

There is a constant overlapping between needs and one cannot say certainly that one need has to be completely fulfilled to move to the other. Going by holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl‘s Logotherapy which he introduced in his marvellous psychological memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning, which is a reflection on what the terrifying experience of Auschwitz taught him about the primary purpose of life: the quest for meaning. Those who found a meaning in life sustained the sufferings and survived. Dr Victor Frankly aided the injured and sick in the camp and always dodged the gas chambers almost magically. He recounts various incidents where he witnessed unexpectedly heroic actions in the camp by certain people.

Despite the challenged physiological and security needs, being torn apart from family and scraped off dignity, some found fulfilment in the highest human need of contributing and service. The transcendence need became primal at the Nazi’s death camps for many who finally survived in those ghastly situations. According to Victor Frankl, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”

In his later years, Abraham Maslow explored a further dimension of motivation-one finds the fullest realisation in giving oneself to something beyond oneself—for example, in altruism or spirituality. He equated this with the desire to reach the infinite. This is refered as the “transcendence need“.

Many parallel theories evolved on human needs like the ERG theory by Alderfer or Three Needs Theory by David McClelland, Human Givens, a theory of needs in psychotherapy by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell and so on.

Tony Robbins propounded the “6 Human Needs” theory after his years of experience and working closely with people using the blended therapy of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) which explains clearly why we do what we do.

1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli, adventure
3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed
4. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union 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

While the first four needs are personality needs, the last two are spiritual needs.


The needs are similar to the psychological needs discussed above however there are some fundamental requirements like the need for uncertainty or variety which was mostly overlooked in many theories. We all have an innate need for doing something different and unique and that is pattern breaking. So next time, you change your grandmother’s recipe you’ll acknowledge the need you have for creativity and uncertainty.If a job or a relationship isn’t fulfilling this need of creativity or adventure, one tends to constantly switch jobs or get into multiple relationships. This also, to some extent, explains the youth today getting addicted to gaming and substances. If only, education processes could be more stimulating the growing dependency on virtual gaming and the like could have been curtailed.

Hence, it is important for us to become aware about ourselves and our environment and make sure that our fundamental human needs are being fulfilled by healthy and ecological choices.

Categories Inspiration, Life, NLP, Psychotherapy, Spirituality

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