Why you are the way you are

Human Needs, an understanding of these are as important as our values. Many years ago, I went to Unleash the Power Within, with Anthony Robbins and later did Mastery University. He writes powerful personal development books and there are some good articles on his company website.

I enjoyed reading his article – Why you are the way you are and there is an accompanying podcast.

In the article it says there are reasons behind everything we do, whether it is to overeat or overspend, take drugs, crave attention … and these reasons tie in to the 6 human needs.

Let me give you an overview of these, and then give you a link where you can access a short survey to find out which is most important to you.

Human Needs 1 – The need for certainty

This is the most basic human need – to avoid pain and have some comfort. It can relate to our health or our career. People get certainty in different ways, for some it is to lower expectations, for others to have more control, some rely on faith and prayer.

Human Needs 2 – The need for variety

Too much certainty can lead to boredom. So, we seek variety to make us feel alive. We can get this from adventures, from a new goal, from a conversation. We need to understand ourselves, and how we can get variety in our lives.

Human Needs 3 – The third need is significance

In what way is your life special and how do you meet your need for significance? It could be down to knowledge and knowing more, or working harder or standing out through your clothes and things you own. Generosity to others does not have a downside, but some will focus on violence which clearly can have a negative impact on others.

Human Needs 4 – Love and connection

This can be with a significant other, but it can also be through friendship, nature, pets or the church. Some people will crave attention. Often, we settle, our relationship is ok, not so bad that we leave and at some point, we may realise that it is not enough.

Human Needs 5 and 6 – Growth and contribution

There is a saying: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying”. Contributing gives our life meaning. Tony says, “The secret to living is giving.” When we contribute freely to another person or a cause outside ourselves it can make us feel great.


These 6 needs are like values. As people we are different, we will differ in our top need (or top values). How we then find e.g. certainty will also differ between people.

It’s helpful to understand your top needs, and how are you meeting that need. This need will provide direction for your life.

If you would like to find your top needs this quiz will help.


I’ve completed this assessment and my top need is for significance. Some key points from my report are:

  • A sense of purpose: You know what you’re doing and why. Maybe you gain purpose through earning money, academic success, or a massive Twitter following.
  • Accomplishments: You set goals and achieve them. Then you set more goals. You can do anything you set your mind to, no matter if it’s tough.
  • Care and compassion: Another way to get significance is through commitment to community, charity, and other kinds of causes.
  • Uniqueness: Whether it’s your personal style or signature incredible talents, you stand out from the rest.

But of course, there is also a downside, and these ae areas me, and others with a highest need for Significance would need to work on. My kryptonite includes

  • Perfectionism: The dark side of significance, you can get overly judgmental of others as well as yourself.

And you get suggestions for development, mine include

  • Relax: Instead of always thinking about what you need to achieve, indulge in pleasurable experiences just for the sake of the moment. Try things that won’t give you special respect or admiration. You don’t have to be an expert at something to enjoy it.

If this is interesting for you, take the quiz and make a note on my blog of what you think.

Published On: November 10th, 2017 / Categories: Personal Development /

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