Two years ago, we entered a fascinating time in human history. Over the past two years, almost everything we thought we knew for certain, had planned to do, or considered normal has been challenged. There has, and continues to be plenty of change and challenge, mixed with the uncertainty of never quite being able to predict what comes next. If you have been able to predict what’s coming, it’s likely you said it in jest at some stage.
I’ve written previously about the 6 Core Human Needs that we all spend our time trying to balance – each need being a spectrum that each individual needs more or less of. Whether we balance them consciously or unconsciously, these needs are the root of much of our human behaviour. Sometimes our behaviour is a result of today’s needs, and sometimes our behaviour is the result of a build-up of imbalance over time which has brought us to a level of discomfort and dissatisfaction we can no longer tolerate.
The greatest gift of the last two years has been that they have sparked many questions in each of our minds about what we want and believe, presenting us with an incredible opportunity to reconsider how we move forward. Conversely, they have continued to throw enough shrapnel at us to prevent us from reconfiguring with any focus.
When the world first ground to a halt and locked down two years ago, we thought it would blow over in 3 weeks. We watched with wide eyes as an unknown threat stalked the globe spreading itself through new cities every day. As the weeks passed by, we also watched incredible feats of human spirit as communities drew together, finding new ways to support and communicate with each other. Life as we knew it paused. We watched the planet breathe in ways we weren’t aware she could or would without us. And we breathed. Some of us for the first time in a long time.
We started to feel the first strains of confinement, of uncertainty, and of separation. We became bored with our own space and our own heads and started to reconsider our needs. The first four Core Human Needs were either well out of whack, (Certainty & Uncertainty) or being reconsidered in ways we hadn’t contemplated in a long while (Significance, Love & Connection). The last two Core Human Needs (Growth & Contribution) were either on hold or demanding to be satisfied in entirely new ways.
We went from lacking certainty at the beginning of lockdown to having too much of it as the weeks rolled by. We went from recognised degrees of uncertainty in our lives to it being off the charts and unpredictable. Our need for love and connection was challenged front and centre when we were either locked down with our nearest and dearest, or locked down alone. Our need for significance was rewritten as we questioned our roles, not only in our homes, but in our workspaces. The world screamed for growth and contribution – for us to figure out new ways of running our lives, our homes, and our businesses – and we did our best to meet those needs, even while we were consumed with trying to balance the first four.
Two years later, we’ve pressed through continual reconfigurations on every level – yet I’m not sure many of us have paused again at any stage to take true stock of how we’re doing.
In the craziness that is currently the world, our 6 Core Human Needs remain constant – and they demand to be satisfied and balanced. We, as functioning human beings, are powered by the balance of these needs. When our needs are balanced, our lives feel aligned – streamlined even – and our energy can flow to the two “higher needs” – Growth and Contribution. Growth and Contribution are where our satisfaction comes from, and they are only fueled when we have the first four needs taken care of.
Our minds are clever things, and they won’t let us rest while we are out of balance. They will continue to draw us towards decisions, actions and behaviours that seek to balance our 6 Core Human Needs, starting with the first four (Certainty, Uncertainty, Significance, Love & Connection). If we can’t find healthy ways to satisfy our individual need for balance in each of these (some of us need more or less of each than others), then we will balance by finding less healthy ways to satisfy our needs.
If we group the 6 Core Human Needs into their two “accepted” groupings – the first four being referred to as Needs of the Personality, and the last two as Needs of the Spirit – then we get a glimpse of the two areas in which many of us seem to be crying out for satisfaction.
The Needs of the Personality (Certainty, Uncertainty, Significance, Love & Connection) speak to our need to be part of something greater than ourselves. To belong. To feel security balanced with a zest for life. To feel needed, appreciated, and worthwhile.
The Needs of the Spirit (Growth, Contribution) speak to our need to expand ourselves, our thinking, and our effect on the world around us. To grow and to give back.
Wrapped up in these two groups of human needs are our happiness and fulfilment.
They have been challenged over the past two years. Whether it feels to you that they were placed in a proverbial jar and shaken, or merely turned over as a gardener would turn the soil with a pitchfork to aerate it – the need for balance in all of us remains.
We all need to feel part of something greater than ourselves. Be that a significant relationship, a partnership, a team, a project, an idea, a culture, community or country. And we all need to grow, to progress, to elevate and expand.
If you’re feeling unsettled or uncertain at the moment, ask yourself where those needs have been shaken up over the past two years and what you’ve learned about your needs in those areas. I can almost guarantee that you’ve learned more about your own needs in the past two years than perhaps many years previously – or at least that you have questioned more. The next question is whether you’ve listened. Whether you’ve practised self-leadership. Whether you’ve paused to diagnose your needs with accuracy before deciding how best to satisfy them moving forward.
If you are the leader of a team, look out across that team and ask yourself whether what you see is streamlined and energetically efficient (everyone is aligned with their needs), or whether there is dis-ease and grinding of gears. If there is dis-ease, consider where peoples’ need to belong to something bigger than themselves, their need for trust, connection and significance are not being met. Ask yourself when the last time you fed your own growth was. And ask yourself how many opportunities the people in your team are being given to grow.
We will all wriggle until we satisfy our need for balance. When we are aware of it, we can make healthy choices towards positive and sustainable outcomes.
by Christen Killick
March 21st, 2022
For previous articles on The 6 Core Human Needs, start here:
#1 – Certainty (The First in a Series of Needs)
#2 – UNcertainty
#3 – The Need For Significance
#4 – The Need For Love & Connection
#5 – The Need For Growth
#6 – The Need For Contribution
6 Core Human Needs – The Bottom Line