Did you know that human beings have six basic human emotional needs? For example, all humans have a need for love. Without love, we would die as infants. Believe it or not, this need for love doesn’t die with age. It actually becomes more important with age. Without love, we age faster, and we turn into a Mr. or Mrs. Grumpypants. But let’s leave out the lofty concept of love, and break our needs down into some basic psychological facts of our human emotional needs.
All of our decisions are governed by the subconscious. Our behavior is driven by our emotions, not by our logic. It’s hardest for us to get over our bad habits because, underneath each habit, we are combating our basic human emotional needs. So let’s talk about these 6 human emotional needs.
Human Emotional Need #1: We need certainty
We all need to feel a certain level of certainty or predictability. We need to know that the sky isn’t falling and it won’t fall tomorrow. We need to know that, if we have a job, that the job will be there for us next week (at least in theory). Sometimes we derive a sense of certainty through our beliefs, our faith, our attempt to control things, and more. We like to be able to predict what’s going to happen, at least somewhat. It helps keep our fears at bay. How do you create certainty?
Human Emotional Need #2: We need Uncertainty
What would life be like if we knew what was going to happen every moment of the day, every day, for the rest of our lives? We would die from boredom, wouldn’t we? We also have a need for uncertainty. We need variety. We like to spice things up now and then. We don’t always want to know what’s going to happen every single second of the day. How is variety the spice in your life?
Human Emotional Need #3: We need Significance
We need to feel needed. We want to feel useful. We want to know that the contribution we are making is an important one. Maybe we don’t need a giant spotlight on us with crickets chirping in the background, but we do need to feel like we “do” something. We can derive this sense of significance any number of ways. We can get a college degree, a high paying job, some body ink, have some unique spiritual beliefs, you name it. It doesn’t really matter what it is, so long as we feel we can gain a sense of identity from that which what we choose to do or be involved. What makes you feel significant?
Human Emotional Need #4: We need Love and Connection
As much as we might not want to admit it, we all need love and connection to other people. It’s important for each of us to feel unique and significant, but not to the extent that we completely isolate ourselves from other people. Ever hear the phrase, “Too spiritual to be of any earthly good?” It means that, if we are sitting so high on a mountain top, we might be closer to God (literally), but at the great expense of sacrificing our everyday human social connections with other people. We all want to be significant and yet stay connected and yet be loved by other people. We need love and connection, and yet, we need autonomy and independence. How do you connect with others?
Human Emotional Need #5: We need Growth
If we do not grow on a consistent basis, we start to wither or become bored. Growth nourishes us and keeps us sharp. We need to feel like we are expanding. The first four needs might be more important than growth, but growth is still important, especially as we mature in the long term.
Human Emotional Need #6: We need Contribution
In my opinion, giving back is perhaps one of the most important human emotional needs. Something magical happens in the psyche when the mind contributes back to the whole. I don’t mean to sound philanthropic. I simply mean that we do our own best learning when we are teaching and serving others. That is why I chose the service industry. I love people, I love watching them grow and develop, and contributing to them helps me grow and develop as well. Here’s a philosophical tidbit on that: What we give away grows stronger within ourselves.
The nature of our human emotional needs is somewhat complex, but not hard to understand. By keeping an eye on which needs are being met or not met, we can better learn how to “fill ourselves up,” avoiding pitfalls and taking a proactive part in our own process of emotional fulfillment.