knowing our needs

Why Knowing our Human Needs Makes a Difference

I had received a call from school the day before, saying one of my children [name/pronoun withheld to not reveal which] had vomited and needed to be picked up. This child’s sister had been sick the day before so I just assumed it was making its rounds through the family. Said child seemed pretty tired for about the first thirty minutes and I encouraged them to rest on the couch. However, they quickly began acting “normal” again both in energy and attitude. Within an hour, my child was running around the house chasing the dog and continued to have a normal healthy demeanor through bedtime.

Fast forward to this morning upon waking, this same kiddo says their stomach is hurting again. This child has never enjoyed school and has also been known to cry wolf or over-dramatize quite often. We literally had two back to back days just this last week where we were nearly convinced we needed to go to the ER for x-rays over what turned out to be minor injuries. My mind began to spiral with thoughts:

“Is my child actually sick or crying wolf again?”

“How is this going to impact my day of work?”

“I’m going to have to cancel all of my plans if this child stays home.”

“WHY does it have to so hard to know when to believe this particular kid?”

“What is the school going to think of me if I send the kid who they think vomited in the bathroom yesterday (because the kid told them so) back to school less than 24hrs later?”

“Now my child is saying it’s not really hurting that bad. Is it really not or just because they are sensing my frustration?”

“The bus is arriving in less than 5 minutes, there isn’t even time to get the kid ready and out the door at this point – is there?”

This entire situation took place over the course of maybe 20 minutes start to finish. If you’ve read my last post on my core values, you’ll know that my connection to others is very important. You’ll also remember that I highly value well-being and encouragement so you’d think the solutions would have been simple and obvious. And yet, I think it’s very quickly noted that I wasn’t super attuned to those values at the moment. Why not?

Here is where I’d like to introduce the importance of understanding human needs. Many have defined what they believe to be the core needs of every human and a quick online search will provide many alternatives to consider. One of my favorites is an adapted version of the six human needs made popular by Tony Robbins. He argues that all people have six human needs. He calls the first four, the needs of personality (I tend to call them Needs to Survive). They are:

  • Certainty
  • Variety
  • Love/Connection
  • Significance

The last two he calls, the needs of the spirit (which I call Needs to Thrive) and are:

  • Growth
  • Contribution

Tony argues that while all humans have these needs, we tend to value them differently from one another and that’s important. I thought through these needs and specifically looked at the first four. Whether I want to admit it or not, I definitely value the need of Certainty above the other four. At first glance, I thought my need for Significance came second as I love the opportunity to speak from a stage or lead a group of people. While I think I do indeed get and enjoy the Significance that comes from those opportunities, I’m realizing that even more so, I thrive off of the Connection I feel in those roles. Speaking gives me the opportunity to connect with others in ways that make me feel alive. And honestly, when I have the opportunity to speak and teach, my needs of Growth and Contribution are also greatly enhanced.


What does all this have to do with the situation I described with my child earlier? Why was I not following through with my values as well as you’d think I would be? My core need of Certainty was being rocked, shaken, and stirred. Tony says that we will always meet our core needs but we may do so positively, neutrally or negatively and in spite of our values if need be. I was struggling to find anything positively Certain to hold on to this morning. As a result, I grew impatient, frustrated, and even confused. I struggled to make decisions (fortunately I was able to get my husband involved). I was not gentle with my words with my child as I wish I had been. The only thing I was Certain of at that moment was that I was frustrated.

We may find it helpful during times like this to first change our state (physically and emotionally). Then we can ask ourselves why we’re responding the way we are by being curious about our needs and values, acknowledging we may have a deeper story behind our initial reaction, and determining if there is another way to meet those needs more positively. As a Christian, I could have chosen to find my Certainty in Christ and His goodness, knowing all things work together for good. I could have taken a deep breath and made a decision, knowing that the worst thing that could happen is still not that terrible. I could have accepted the fact that some things in life simply aren’t certain and variety adds beauty and joy to life. Many times when my schedule is “forcibly” changed, it ends up being a blessing in disguise. Rather than immediately considering ourselves failures, thinking we’ve “blown it again,” we could rest in God’s grace, learn from our new awareness and plan accordingly for the future.

Interested in learning more or determining your own needs or values? Schedule your free 30-minute Discovery Call with me today. I’ve love to chat with you about your personal desires and goals.

Until next time…

Take care,

Terra