6 human needs – Why do you behave the way you do? 

by Self-Development and Personal Growth

Trabaja con angie ramos

Angie Ramos

Clinical Hypnotist , Havening Techniques® Certified Practitioner, Somatic Practitioner

The 6 human needs is a concept that I learned in my life coaching training and it’s a concept that was developed by Tony Robbins and Cloé Madanes. And it is, in fact, something I really use during my coaching process because I find that it allows the person to know himself/herself a lot better and helps them to really understand why they behave the way they do and how can they improve on the areas they want to.

So in this post, I’m going to share with you a little bit more about the 6 human needs and I will give an exercise to identify yours.

What are the 6 human needs?

According to human needs psychology, there is always a reason why we behave the way we do, and this is based on our basic needs. These basic needs are six and they can be interpreted in thousands of ways, but we all have them. And the difference between one person and another is that we value them differently. So, the top two needs that you value the most are the ones that will drive and lead your life.

As Tony Robbins puts it:

The first four needs are the fundamental human needs – every person requires to meet at some level. The last two needs, however, hold the secret to human fulfillment and are the spiritual needs. We all find ways to meet our needs in positive, negative or neutral ways. Any activity, action or emotion that fulfills at least three needs at a high level becomes an addiction. Likewise, people have positive, negative and neutral addictions.

You have to realize that the negative ways you express these needs work only in the short term, there is no way you can be happy and fulfilled if you continue to think, act or do the way you do in a negative way. For example, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or food might make you feel good for a certain period of time but afterward is not really fulfilling and might lead you to act in more negative ways.


This is the need we all have to feel secure and certain that we can obtain comfort and avoid pain in life. This represents the stability, safety, and comfort in both a physical and emotional level. This is how your brain says you need to make yourself feel certain or secure.

Everybody needs stability about their basic necessities – food, shelter and other material resources, but there are different levels of satisfaction in each one of us. Some might be happy with just the essential and others might need more luxuries to feel certain and secure.

This certainty can also be translated into a state of mind, for example being very religious or being positive. Think about the kind of words you use the most. If this is one of your firsts needs you might say these words or similar words continuously:

Keywords and phrases: safety, comfort, peace, routine

“The Universe has my back.”

“I am enough.”

Negative patterns: Lack, over control, anxiety

Uncertainty / Variety

This need represent the variety we need in our lives. Think about it, how would you feel if you knew what would happen every single minute of your life? would you be happy? The answer is that most probably you would be bored to death of being certain about every single thing that happened in your life.

This is why we all need some kind of uncertainty or surprise in our lives. Once we have our safety and certainty baseline, we need some kind of stimulation, change, and different experiences that will lead us to have a range of various emotions.

People will find different ways to meet their need for variety, it could be by having a change of scene, by exercising or doing some kind of physical activity, find new ways of entertaining, having mood swings, eating different kinds of food, and so on.

Keywords and phrases: excitement, uncertainty, exploration

“Life is an Adventure.”
“Through the unknown, I connect with everything.”

Negative patterns: addiction, instability, ungrounded, flighty, dangerous


We all need to feel unique, special, important, needed or worthy of attention.  People will seek significance through obtaining recognition from others or from themselves.
Sometimes when people feel insignificant they may do negative things to get some attention from others, like getting angry or treating people badly so they feel better. It is also very common that if this is one of the two top needs, the person would be attracted to extreme sports or activities that require him/her to take a high level of risk and in this way satisfy his/her need for significance.

And even though it looks weird, some people may get attention and meet their need by talking about their problems and having,  without noticing it, very complex problems. It is important to remember that for many, helplessness is power.

Keywords and phrases: important, lasting, acknowledged
“I matter.”
“I’m valued.”

Negative patterns: low self-esteem, attention-getting, egotistical, dependent on material success

Connection and Love

People need to feel connected to someone or something – a person, an ideal, a value, a habit, and a sense of identity. The connection may take the form of love, or merely of intense engagement – for instance, one can feel connected by means of aggressive interaction.

This need of connection means the importance of belonging to a group, connecting to other people, and giving and receiving love.

A negative way of translating this need is by unconsciously creating problems and then having a connection with someone else that may have the same problem or someone that gives them some kind of attention or special treatment.

Keywords & phrases: appreciation, romantic love, friendship, self-love
“I am the world (or one other person).”
“I love 10,000 things.”
“I see the good in the details.”

Negative patterns: dependent on outer love, sense of never being satisfied, unable to receive, unable to give without receiving back.


Is a very important that we acknowledge that if we are not growing we are not living at our full potential. Or as Tony Robbins says “If you are not growing you are dying”. An interesting concept is that people are not spiritually satisfied unless their capacities are expanding.

The purpose of having a goal is not to achieve it, but who you become in order to achieve it. When you do this you expand yourself beyond your current limits and become more than you were yesterday.

Everything in the universe is either growing or dying – there is no third alternative.

Keywords & phrases: expansion, adding in, evolution
“Each day life offers me new experiences.”

Negative patterns: boredom, sense of impatience with what is right now, never feeling complete, doubting one’s strengths and knowledge.


The need to step out of ourselves. Just as people cannot survive without others contributing in some way to their welfare, they cannot be spiritually fulfilled unless they are contributing to others as well.

Keywords & phrases: giving, believing in others, leading, serving
“I want others to be well.”
“I can make a difference.”

Negative patterns: when a contribution is only in one area of life it might not be very fulfilling, focusing a lot on the external contribution that leads to feel drained, or become thinking of being a martyr.


Based on these descriptions ask yourself these questions and try to reflect on them so that you can change the behaviour or the situation that is currently keeping you from achieving all the things you want to.

  1. Think of the biggest problem you have right now in your life.
  2. How is this problem affecting you, is it costing you something or those around you?
  3. Is it constructive or destructive?
  4. Which needs are you meeting by having this problem?
  5. Which are your top two needs?
  6. If this problem disappeared, what would you do? how would you behave? who would you be?
  7. What are you determined to do to change the problem? Make an action plan
  8. Think of some solutions or other things you can do if you find yourself reacting or behaving in the same way, what can you do to interrupt this behavior?
  9. Imagine yourself solving this problem, what can you do with your body, your way of thinking or your language that could support this solution?
  10. Who in your life could support you to make this change?

I hope this post helps you to find a different point of view of your current situation and gives you some light to find a better way to solve it or improve on it.

If you want to know which are your top two needs I invite you to do this test.

More tools for your personal development on Tony Robbin’s website

Tony Robbins’ Video

Watch the following video where Tony Robbins explains the 6 human needs.


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Hi! I'm Angie

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