Determining The Needs That Drive You The Most 

 October 7, 2019

By  Kristin Rivas

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the past decade helping thousands of clients, it would be this: No matter where we come from or how we’ve been raised, there are certain needs we all share as humans. It’s important to know what those are and how you’ve been meeting them or neglecting them. It’s like providing a road map to your fulfillment.

All of us humans are consistently seeking to meet our basic needs. Knowing what those are and which are most favored by your personality can shed light on what drives you the most. We all tend to value two of our driving needs more than the rest. 

When you realize which needs you value most, you’ll better understand your behaviors, decisions, and emotional patterns. You’ll also learn how to navigate through life in ways more rewarding to you.  It’s easy to experience dependencies, addictions, depression or dissatisfaction if you don’t. 

There is always a way to fulfill a need. The skill lies in finding ways to meet your needs sustainably, in ways that give you more benefits and less consequences.  

The nine main driving needs (as I see it) for us humans are: 

  1. Well being - Our mind, body and spirit are so interconnected, it’s amazing how off balance we will feel or how our health suffers when anyone of these parts of us is not being supported. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (culturally appropriated from the Blackfoot tribe)  is a prevalent fundamental theory of sociology and psychology. It prioritizes the requirements of care for the body based on the belief that physical needs take precedence when seeking to improve health and well being. This is why it’s important to consider how your health is being affected and your feelings are being triggered due to your environment, intake of nourishment, light, water, and oxygen first and foremost. When clients come to see me for stress management, anxiety, or anger issues, I’m always checking to see what contributing factors are at play in their health, environment, behavior, and relationships. That way I can make sure they are able to really put effort into making a change where it is most needed. 

  1. Mattering - Because humans depend on others in order to survive from the moment of birth, mattering to others is one of our most fundamental human needs. The fear of not being lovable or loved are complexes humans have inherited as social beings. They are as natural to us as the fear of pain and death. These innate complexes have to do with our ability to survive. We all want to matter to others. Maybe not to everyone but at least someone. Or to a few people who may be important to us for some reason. Determining the reason why a relationship is important to you, why a person’s opinion is of any value to you, can allow this mattering need to play a healthy role in your life rather than a fear based complex. If you don’t keep this driving need in check, it can turn into an all consuming paranoia that results in an insatiable hunger for power, fame, approval or control...no pressure.

  1. Meaning - We use our curiosity to avoid the discomfort of confusion and the unknown. We also use it to discover what we think may be of value to learn or experience. Animals may be curious but they do not ask “Why?” like humans do. When we are seeking, when we learn and discover, research shows the pleasure centers of our brains can be stimulated in the same way we anticipate receiving a reward. When something doesn’t make sense to us, if it contradicts our current understanding or perception of reality, we can feel the kind of irritation that is triggered by conflict. It compels us to scratch an intellectual itch to find relief. If you think about it, the pain and pleasure of curiosity has greatly aided our ability to continue and advance as a species.

  1. Love or connection - Because humans are highly dependant on each other and extremely social from the time we’re born, we share a massive need to be loved and experience connection. Even if we have a tendency to be highly introverted, we all need companionship, intimacy, friendship, and community. To one degree of another. We help each other survive and thrive when we take these needs seriously and focus on having healthy, quality relationships.

  1. Certainty / Security - A sense of certainty will usually tend to make us feel more secure (unless we are certain that something “bad” is going to happen). For the most part, feeling certain can mean we feel more in control or  a sense of safety. When there is stability and predictability in our life we can feel a sense of certainty and or comfort. This is a huge driving need within the human personality because it’s seeking to help us avoid the risk of a threat found in pain and the unknown. It’s usually one of the strongest needs within the human personality since it is linked to our primal operational modes for survival. This is one reason why a person who has been in a horrible situation may stick to the devil they know rather than the one they don’t. Their need for safety becomes highly linked to their needs for certainty and predictability. 

It is also a driving force towards meeting our need for well being, pleasure, and in some cases meaning...the need to know. Depending on how great your need to feel a sense of certainty and desire to avoid risk and discomfort, the desire for certainty can be the deciding factor in many areas of your life - what you do to earn money, how you show up in relationships or avoid them, what you’ll do for excitement. The more certainty you crave, the less of a taste you will have for risk. The less change, confusion, or discomfort you will feel like you can handle. 

  1. Uncertainty / Variety - Facing uncertainty helps us grow. Variety keeps us from getting bored or depressed. It can be entertaining. Doing something new or different can be rewarding. If you like a lot of change or variety, you may also have a strong desire for freedom and autonomy. So much so, you’re willing to pay the price of unpredictability. You may even enjoy the uncertainty and associate it fondly with spontaneity or adventure. The more you can handle unpredictability, the more flexible and adaptable you can become.

  1. Significance - It makes us feel seen, needed, special, powerful, important, validated, or unique in some way. We will seek to achieve it in our relationships, careers, or hobbies to one degree or another. Especially in our identity. Some of us try to meet this need and by earning fancy degrees, awards or trophies while others will attempt to do so by accumulating tons of money, fame, or “success” however they see it. It could be done by developing a noticeable “style” in the way you dress or alter your body with tattoos or piercings. It can be done over the course of a lifetime of leadership - within your family or as an activist or philanthropist within your community. And my goodness gracious, how it can be done with money or by being a zealot. Think of sports fanatics or the number one fan of anything. It’s also noticeable in the case of religious and political fervor that seeks to police the world.

  1. Growth - In times of uncertainty, adversity, and learning we are expanding our consciousness and our ability to contribute. We have something of value we can offer others in this world who need our help. Who need our growing strength, wisdom, and empathy. Which leads to last but not least…

  1. Contribution - While we exist, it is our responsibility to help ourselves, and life on this earth, to continue to the best of our ability and to have fun doing it. As far as I can tell, that’s what life is all about. Narcissists and sociopaths may disagree. But nature has ensured that anyone who has the ability to feel empathy will feel unfulfilled if they are not, or do not feel like they are providing any value to those around them. We are driven to feel like our time on earth matters, like our life matters and what we choose to do matters. So it has meaning. What gives people the most meaning? Feeling like their life was worth something - worth living and worth remembering. Not just for themselves but for the world they know they will leave behind.

In fact, all of our needs fall into one or more of the following three categories: meaning/mattering, love/connection, and well being. When you can recognise how a need you have relates to one or all three of these categories, you can understand why it’s so important to you. You can also determine whether or not it’s a need you can be flexible with meeting or should compromise on meeting. 

Determining your top two most valued needs will help you see why a career, relationship, habit, or hobby, is more or less fulfilling and sustainable for you. It’s also important to consider the top needs of a person you’re getting into a relationship with, be it professional or romantic.

Someone who values Certainty / Security above all else will lead a completely different life than someone who’s top value is Uncertainty / Variety or Growth.  Just how someone who values Significance more than love or contribution will interact with others very differently, especially in romantic and professional relationships, than someone whose life revolves around the need for true love and contribution. 

The more needs, or greater degree a need is met, by any one thing in your life - be it a person, career, behavior, hobby, or substance - the greater the likelihood for dependence on that thing. Meaning there is a greater chance that an addictive relationship may be developed and it will take intentional effort to be replaced. It’s best to keep track of how you are meeting your driving needs in healthy, sustainable, balanced ways. In ways that don’t cause greater consequence than benefit. 

Typically, if your mind perceives that something is meeting at least two of your needs above a five on a scale of 1-10, or if it meets at least three of your human needs, it can easily become an addiction. Having problems / challenges / stress, for instance, is perhaps the most common addiction a human can have which is why they might be afraid to change their behavior or solve a problem. Problems and challenges can meet all nine human needs to a high degree (even contribution in the case of satisfying others who love to please and help). 

It is helpful to periodically take time and evaluate how you are meeting your driving needs and see if there’s a pattern you may want to change. Right now, you may be able to tell which are your most favored needs and which seem to be getting unmet. You may also be able to think of three positive or negative ways you’ve been, or could be, meeting each of these nine needs. Ways that are healthier, more sustainable and rewarding vs. temporarily gratifying, riskier or harmful to you or those around you.

I developed a thorough exercise to help you evaluate your top needs and how healthily they can be met as a part of my Connection To Purpose e-course. This exercise will have you focus on how you are currently meeting all of your driving needs and make it easier to see which you value, or need to value, above all else in order to have the life you want. You will see patterns of overlap, what you’re doing that’s meeting multiple needs. You’ll see which patterns are healthy and sustainable vs. unhealthy and harmful. You can then change these patterns and bring your life into balance. My e-course includes video tutorials, meditation recordings, and many more powerful exercises that walk you through ways of changing your beliefs, thought patterns, and behaviors, step by step. All so you can achieve your goals and live your most fulfilled, healthiest, rewarding life possible.

Perhaps it’s time to make a change in your life but you need help clearing negative effects from your past, or integrating new thought patterns or habits to make it easier. If you’d like help achieving a breakthrough as quickly as possible, contact me or reach out to a hypnotherapist or NLP practitioner in your local area. My practice is not only able to help clients in the greater Seattle and Tacoma area of Washington state, I also work with clients over the phone and video chat sessions just as effectively once we’ve had a consultation to determine if it’s a good fit for you. 

If you’re interested to see whether hypnosis can help you achieve your goals be sure to review my Hypnotherapy FAQ and have a thorough consult with a hypnotherapist like me before making a decision as to whether hypnotherapy services are best for you.

Kristin Rivas

Kristin Rivas is a certified Brain Health Coach, Hypnotherapist, and NLP practitioner who helps people to feel, think, and live better. Specializing in behavior change and goal achievement, she empowers clients to live to their full potential & foster their own wellness. A former TEDx presenter, she is also a highly sought after speaker.

Kristin Rivas

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