And so we come to the 6th and final week of our series on The 6 Core Human Needs. We’ve had a close look at the deep-seated human need for Certainty, Uncertainty (or security), Significance, Love & Connection, and Growth – and we’ve examined how meeting these needs governs every decision we make. We’ve also elevated our awareness of the kinds of behaviours we produce when these needs are unmet. Last week, we noted that the first four needs are needs of the personality whereas the last two are considered needs of the spirit. If all your energy is taken up trying to manage the first four needs and you’re unable to attend to the last two, true satisfaction will always elude you.
Today, we reach our final Core Human Need – the need for Contribution. Running through the first four needs, it seems evident that they build towards us being whole and ready to meet the fifth need of Growth. It’s Growth that acquires us something of true value, that makes us develop the strengths, talents and purpose we were uniquely gifted with into something that…we can give away.
Almost like playing a computer game, figuring out how to successfully meet each of these needs means we can level up to the next. Once you’ve satisfied your need for Certainty, you can ground yourself with enough security to establish a base from which to continue. From that base, you can start to look for a little motivation, inspiration and variety in life – meeting your need for Uncertainty. Venturing out from our stable base to find that variety allows us to relate to others and the internal question of how we stack in that interaction presents itself. We look for what sets us apart and makes us unique and valuable to the whole – what makes us feel Significant.
With that significance ascertained, we feel worthy of extending ourselves towards the rest of the group and making that Connection with a greater community, hopefully finding ourselves Love. Being accepted into a community and being loved for who you are is a powerful source of strength and energy, and with that strength and energy, we push ourselves to develop further and to Grow. We grow our positions, we grow our surroundings, we grow our knowledge, we grow our connections, we grow our spirituality.
With this growth, the next step seems obvious – you give it away. If you’ve successfully fulfilled all of the previous needs, then there is no need to hold on to everything you produce. Our human instinct is to build our community with the knowledge that we’ve gained, to help others better meet their needs, to build better and stronger relationships and to help elevate our surroundings. With the value and product of our growth, we Contribute.
Throughout the world, there are many, many people who have amassed great wealth and great success, and yet they are unsatisfied and unhappy. They use that money to search for satisfaction that always seems slightly out of their reach and they are restless in that search. And then there are those who have little in terms of financial wealth who live lives of great peace and fulfilment. These are the people who can tell you that you do not require great financial means in order to contribute.
Money IS a game-changer, and most of us spend our lives in search of it because we recognise the choice that it brings. Money can most definitely help to meet the needs we’ve spoken about here. Without a doubt, it provides us with certainty and security. There’s a reason people go 0 – 100 when their salary isn’t in the bank on the day it’s expected. Money can buy us fun and variety and challenge and risk. It can also make us feel pretty significant. The world is full of great examples of people throwing their financial significance around. Tagging along on this Significance Train are normally enough people to meet the need for Connection – at least superficially. Money is also a fabulous source of Growth – it can grow business, education and communities. Once you get that far down the road, the only way that money can truly satisfy a human is when you give it away. When you look at the leaders in any environment, especially on the world stage where their significance and growth loom large, there is a distinct difference between those who have discovered true fulfilment in life and those who are still throwing their weight around, unsatisfied. That difference is governed by whether they have been able and willing to genuinely contribute back to their environments, to their families, to their teams, to their communities, to their countries. There is a serenity that comes with giving things away.
Having been born and raised in Southern Africa during a time of war and sanctions where people had access to little outside of what they already had, I’m genetically predisposed to hoard. We were raised to look after what we had because it had been hard-earned and because there was a general assumption that it wouldn’t be easily replaced. Everything had value and could be used again for something. My Grandmother taught me to clean, fold and store the tin foil for reuse, and to use every container available to store something. Biscuit tins contained buttons and sewing materials in my youth….never biscuits. Our toy box consisted of toilet rolls, small boxes, hairspray lids and a few dinkies – and from these, we built towns that we lost ourselves imagining in for hours. Afternoons at Gran’s house were endless entertainment with not a lot, in retrospect. Where I come from, we’re bred to conserve and curate, and that everything must be good for something – great values to live by in a world where waste has reached detrimental proportions. It’s also a land of great uncertainty, where it’s easy to grip onto what you physically have in search of some stability.
Therefore, watching and helping my Mum clean out and close up the home my parents built nearly 50 years ago was a lesson in letting go. Out of the crevices of our family home came suitcases of second-hand wrapping paper, every school report ever written for my brother and I, several lifetimes of lampshades and many bags of foam rubber and other useful squirrelings. The process required to clear a family home is extensive – and the memories and energy attached to every little thing is weighty. That weight meant that momentum gathered slowly and that every little thing had to be surgically removed from a heartstring before it could be allowed to leave. But, I believe a large part of what allowed momentum to build, and eventually to clear that house with its rolling was the feeling of freedom, gratitude and satisfaction of giving things away. The weight of craved security lifted, needy homes were found for useful things, and a lifetime of illusive certainty physically represented, left by the truckload to various worthy destinations.
There could not, in my opinion, be a truer demonstration of what we all struggle with than the process my Mum has just followed – shedding a lifetime of the physical representations of certainty, uncertainty, significance, love and connection, and growth – and leaving this country with three suitcases. When we do it right, when we truly live with awareness of ourselves, of others and of our place and purpose in this world, then we start to realise that everything we need is within us. We arrive ready and capable of meeting all these needs we’ve discussed. It’s only our humanness that gets the better of us and we start to doubt ourselves. It takes courage, enormous courage, for us to realise that we have everything we need and that we are powerfully significant and loved without all the physical representations we like to cocoon ourselves with. My Mum is one of the bravest ladies I know.
How can you meet your need for contribution this week, and how can you encourage others to experience the feeling of it too? How can you give back knowledge of what you’ve learned to someone that needs to take the next step? How can you contribute to your team as they navigate the week ahead? How can you give back to your community? What do you walk past every day that no longer gives you joy, that could be of use to someone else? Place it by your front door and then help it leave. What’s lurking in your fridge that will be useless tomorrow, but that could provide someone with lunch today if you find them along your route to work? What time can you give today to someone who will value it? When was the last time you read to someone or played Monopoly? Where can you give your most valuable commodity – your time – to someone this week? Let the leading question in your head today be “What can I give?”.
The children in the picture are some of 140 schoolchildren that Elizabeth Masishaba Mlotshwa feeds lunch to every day in Soweto, South Africa – out of her own kitchen. She runs the AMISH Community Development which stands for Action, Mission, Mentoring, Impact, Society, Homebased. Contact me if you’d like to help or find her directly through her website.
Photo Credit: Andreas Selmeczi
By Christen Killick
July 22nd, 2019
Next article in The 6 Core Human Needs series:
6 Core Human Needs – The Bottom Line