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Do you need to feel significant?

The need to feel important and why it makes you sabotage your own success

Why do human beings do the things they do? How is it that one person will sacrifice his own life for another, while another will go out of their way to hurt someone for seemingly no reason at all? What creates a Charles Manson or a Nelson Mandela? What is the force that drives and shapes all of our emotions, actions, qualities of life, and ultimately, our destinies?

While each human being is unique and is shaped by their individual life’s events and corresponding emotions, we also share behavioral systems that generally function in the same way. On top of this, there are also 6 human needs that everyone has in common, and all our behaviors are simply an attempt to meet those fundamental needs. And the means by which people choose to meet these six human needs are unlimited; we seek fulfillment through our relationships, careers, personal interests and more.

The 6 Human Needs

1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli
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

Everyone ranks these needs differently, and the way they are ranked are why you are the way you are as a person. The top four needs in the list above are really what shape our personality, while the last two (growth and contribution) shape our spiritual needs. If certainty and feeling significant are among the top two needs in your life, then you may face difficulty in finding fulfillment.  

Here’s why: In order to live a life filled with certainty, your life has to stay the same – something that it does not do. So, in order to maintain certainty and keep your life the same, you have to artificially control your environment, control the people and control yourself. The only way to achieve that is to change your expectations or just be stressed out all the time, neither of which is a good option.

If living a life of significant meaning is one of your top two needs, then part of your need includes recognition. This may translate into a desire to be seen, heard and listened to – in short, you want to be noticed. If you don’t devise a positive way to feel significant, you may end up taking drastic measures to make yourself feel good. Maybe you’ll surround yourself with people that you view as less skilled or accomplished than yourself. Or you may display negative and irresponsible behavior, like turning to alcohol or engaging in frequent arguments.

All dysfunctional behaviors arise from the inability to consistently meet the six needs mentioned above. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By better understanding which of the 6 human needs drives you and where you rank them, you can set goals for yourself and implement positive behaviors to help you achieve those goals.

Understanding these needs, and which ones you are trying to meet in any given moment, can help you embrace the power of growth and create new patterns that lead to lasting fulfillment.

Header image © Bocman1973/shutterstock

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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