Dealing with tough times and the six human needs

Today I'm taking a break from my coaching business to discuss dealing with these strange and challenging times from an emotional perspective.

This is a video I shared on my personal social channels last week. I needed a break from creating my business videos and I thought it was a good opportunity to share something from a more personal perspective.

I received some positive feedback on this video from people I know personally.  I hope it resonates with some of you too.

This video is part of a challenge I was nominated for, to raise awareness for mental health and the prevention of suicide. I don't usually participate in these challenges on social media but it's a cause I feel strongly about and to be honest, I enjoyed the challenge (and even some of the attention for myself).

In the video I discuss the concept of the six human needs that we all need to satisfy to feel happy and fulfilled. The priority that we place on these needs and the way in which we satisfy them has a significant impact on our state of mind and happiness.

Video Version

The six human needs

The last few days have been a bit of a struggle for me, partly due to the isolation in lockdown and partly due to certain issues I have been dealing with at work that haven't been going my way. It got me thinking about why the last few days have been so difficult when the first week of the lockdown was really good. I was really enjoying it actually.

It got me thinking about something I learned recently at a conference presented by Tony Robbins, that I was fortunate enough to attend last year - the concept of the six basic human needs. The theory goes that any human needs to satisfy these six needs to feel happy and fulfilled.

But people place these needs within a hierarchy differently which can lead to disharmony where one person's hierarchy conflicts with another's.


Certainty.  This need could be satisfied by maintaining a routine or having certainty about the outcome of your day - eg going to work for the day. It might be knowing that you've secured your future. It may be having the knowledge that in two weeks' time, you're going to be able to go back to work because the self-isolation will finally be over.

Unfortunately at the moment, certainty is not something many of us are experiencing.  A lot of people are struggling with this lack of certainty.  If certainty is a high priority in your hierarchy of needs you will understandably be feeling insecure and unfulfilled at the moment.


Variety is in many ways the antithesis of certainty. It includes the need for surprises or spontaneity.

I'm quite big on variety. It is near the top of my hierarchy.

Many people who prioritise variety enjoy extreme sports or may be entrepreneurs who would prefer to create their own businesses.  There is variety in the uncertainty of these pursuits. These people thrive on uncertainty.

Variety is a big one for me.  I have struggled with the lack of variety in the last week of lockdown.  I would usually enjoy a range of sports in my spare time including cycling, surfing and paddling.  Life in lockdown has been restricted to running on the roads around our neighbourhood and wind training.  I have found this particularly difficult in the last week due to the repetitive nature of it and the lack of variety.

Love and Connection

Love and connection are critical to all of us to maintain a sense of happiness.

Connection is often manifested in personally and physically connecting with friends and family members.  For those people that place the greatest value on this need, the physical isolation over the last three weeks has been particularly challenging as we are isolated from people we feel closest to.

This need is not high on my priority list because I'm a bit of an introvert, but they are important to everyone.

Last night was great, thanks to my good friend and early adopter customer, Mikki Williden who hosted a virtual quiz over Zoom. Not only was it fun, but it enabled us to have a connection with others and also included variety during life in lockdown.  Thanks Mikki!


Growth is a  big one for me. I don't feel fulfilled if I feel like I'm not making progress either in life or in business, and ideally both.

Improving myself personally, whether it's mentally or physically, or improving my business or just being better than you were the day before is critical to my personal sense of satisfaction.

It has felt difficult to maintain growth during the last three weeks, but I'm at least conscious of this need and working on trying to maintain growth even where it feels challenging. 


Significance is a little bit about ego, but not necessarily in a bad way. Everyone needs to feel significant, to feel like they matter to someone.

Significance is closely linked to contribution, the last of the six needs so I will discuss them together.


The last need is contribution. What do you do to contribute to others? 

People can unconsciously contribute as a way of seeking significance.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Take, for example these videos that I'm posting. I might say that the video of me doing 25 push-ups is contributing by raising awareness for the prevention of suicide and promoting mental health. But that would only be half true because I'm also doing it for significance.

Significance and contribution both significantly impact us if we feel we are lacking in either or both of these needs.

How does this help?

Hopefully, this video offers some insight into our basic emotional needs and makes a difference to you.   

During this uncertain time, if you are wondering "why am I feeling this way"? And "what can I do to intentionally to get myself out of this mood?", it might help you to understand these six needs and to consider the order in which you prioritize them, to figure out how it is affecting you.

Want to learn more? Schedule a 1 on 1 demo


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