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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 we do the things we do? Why is it that we measure success and value by attention and status, yet frown upon complacency? What force drives and shapes all of our emotions, actions, qualities of life and, ultimately, our destinies?

While each of us is unique and shaped by our individual life events and corresponding emotions, we also share behavioral systems that generally function in the same way. Tony Robbins has discovered through over 40 years of experience that there are 6 human needs that fundamentally affect the way we make choices. Each of us prioritizes our needs differently, and our decisions are based on which needs we put first.

What are the 6 human needs?

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 shape our personality, while the last two (growth and contribution) shape our spiritual needs. 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. Here’s why:


If significance is among the top two of your six human needs, then part of meeting that need includes receiving recognition. This may translate into a desire to be seen, heard and listened to – in short, you want to be noticed. You measure significance by what you believe makes you unique compared to everyone else around you. Recognition provides you with a sense of validation that makes you feel seen, special and/or needed. Recognition is a major driving force behind human behavior because it provides us with a measurement system to analyze and track our significance. Recognition is also an extremely important part of keeping up employee productivity.


When you receive positive recognition, it may be accompanied by a need for certainty. This is because you allow subconscious patterns to make you believe that you must maintain that feeling of importance. In order to live a life filled with certainty, your life has to stay the same – a nearly impossible expectation to fulfill. So, you artificially control your environment by changing your expectations. You find ways to positively motivate yourself and you aim to consistently deliver the same or better results to receive more recognition. This process provides you with assurance that your actions will either avoid pain or gain pleasure, which then fulfills the basic human need for certainty.

Those who don’t devise a positive way to feel significant may end up taking drastic measures to make themselves feel good, like turning to alcohol or engaging in frequent arguments. Others surround themselves with people that they view as less skilled or accomplished to provide contrast to their own achievements. Either scenario can result in increased significance – but neither behavior is particularly healthy.

All dysfunctional behaviors arise from the inability to consistently meet the six needs mentioned above. But you don’t have to resort to these types of behaviors if you understand your own needs and psychology. If certainty and feeling significant are among the top two needs in your life, then your main focus should be how you plan to feed those needs and recognize people around you with the same needs. By better understanding which of the 6 human needs is your driving force, 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.

Want to learn more about the 6 human needs and how you prioritize them in your own life? No matter what you want– significance, certainty or love and connection – Unleash the Power Within will give you the momentum to achieve it. Embrace the life you desire and deserve today.

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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