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Feeling a bit 'off'? Review your human needs to find out why...




There are various models that describe our fundamental human needs.


The needs that, as human beings, have to be met for us to feel content.


If these needs are not being met, we’ll feel something else, like stress, discomfort, depression, anxiety, frustration etc.


Our environment and what we choose to do, both contribute to how well our needs are met.


When it comes to our part in satisfying our needs, we may choose healthy ways to satisfy them, which don’t negatively impact on others or the environment (‘ecological ways’)…or not.


Why should you care about human needs?


If you’re feeling at all ‘off’, it can be very useful to review your human needs:

  • How well are they being met, and

  • Are you meeting them in a healthy, ecological way?

Where you feel they are not being met well, or recognise you are meeting your needs in an unhealthy or un-ecological way, have a think about what you could do to improve how to meet your needs, so you can be more content.


Why now specifically?

As you well know, the coronavirus pandemic has interrupted our normal environment, and in many cases, our tried and tested ways of meeting our human needs.


Coming up with some new imaginative ways to meet your needs (given the restrictions), is likely to make you feel better.



Human needs review exercise


I’ve combined my 4 favourite models of human needs (listed out with references at the end of the blog), and added ‘self-care’ to the list, to come up with my list of human needs.


I think self-care is a key need for maintaining balance and resilience.


List of human needs

  • Self-Care - Doing things that are fun, that make you happy, give you joy, ‘feed your soul’ and restore your energy.

  • Certainty - Safety and security. In terms of health and environment.

  • Significance - Status, praise, recognition.

  • Achievement - Doing something you feel competent at.

  • Connection - Giving and receiving attention.

  • Emotional intimacy - Spending time with someone who you can totally be yourself with, however you are feeling.

  • Feeling part of a community.

  • Control - Having some responsibility and autonomy.

  • Variety - Doing different things.

  • Meaning and purpose - Feeling as if you are contributing, achieving or working toward something that is important for you.

  • Growth/Self-development.

  • Privacy - the opportunity for time out to think or reflect.


The exercise

  • How well is each need currently being met, on a score of 1 (not at all) to 10 (need is being met completely),

  • How are you meeting each need? Are you meeting the need in a healthy, ecological way?

  • Which needs do you feel are below average or need attention?

  • What are all the different ways that you can think of to improve how well you can satisfy those needs, given any environmental restrictions? What could you do? What could you say to yourself that would help? Would a different focus or perspective make a difference?

  • What needs to change in your life to be able to adequately satisfy all your needs?


Be as creative as you can be!!

Small things can make a big difference.


This exercise is a great way to increase self-awareness. The results can be a really useful starting point if you want to work with a coach to help you make changes for a more content life.


If you’d like to explore how coaching can help in this area, please book a free call.

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For reference: Here are my four favourite models of human needs. Spot the similarities between them. Tony Robbins and Maslow's hierarchy are in a specific order, with the core/most important need to satisfy at the top.


Tony Robbins – 6 human needs

  • Certainty

  • Variety

  • Significance

  • Connection/Love

  • Growth

  • Contribution

Mia Kelmer Pringle’s – ‘Needs of children’ – from her book of the same name

  • Love & Security

  • Praise & recognition

  • Responsibility

  • New experiences

The Human Givens

  • Security — safe territory and an environment which allows us to develop fully

  • Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition

  • Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices

  • Feeling part of a wider community

  • Emotional intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”

  • Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience

  • Sense of status within social groupings

  • Sense of competence and achievement

  • Meaning and purpose — which come from being stretched in what we do and think

Maslow's hierarchy of needs (excuse the Wikipedia reference)

  • Physiological: e.g. food, water, warmth, rest

  • Safety and security

  • Belongingness and love: intimate relationships, friends

  • Esteem: prestige & feeling of accomplishment

  • Self-actualisation: achieving one's full potential, including creative activities

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