Our core needs.
According to one model (thank you, Tony Robbins) we have six core needs: certainty, uncertainty, significance, love, contribution and growth.
Let’s just focus on those first two.
Wait, certainty AND uncertainty?
How can we need both? Aren’t they opposites?
They are in fact a balance.
If we have too much certainty, that leads to boredom and we crave variety, excitement and challenge. If we have too much uncertainty that can lead to overwhelm, stress and fear and we crave more safety, security and stability.
We’ll tend to prioritise our need for certainty, comfort or safety more or less highly than we do our need for uncertainty, variety and excitement.
Which is more important to you?
Let’s look at this a bit deeper.
We can meet any of our core needs in ways that are either resourceful or unresourceful.
Resourceful ways of meeting our needs tend to be healthy and sustainable and make us feel happier, whereas unresourceful ways can’t be sustained, make us less happy and may actually be destructive.
Let’s start with how we might meet our need for certainty.
We all have a need for a degree of certainty – our feelings of safety, security and comfort.
To meet our need for certainty in a sustainable way, we might have unshakeable confidence in ourselves, back ourselves to handle any situation, take practical steps to ensure we have financial stability (such as manageable debt levels + savings we can access if required), trust we can find solutions and access support if we need it and develop healthy, sustainable work/life routines and behaviours that support us.
You can see that these ways of meeting our need for certainty are dependent on us and our attitudes, responses and decisions.
If we’re not feeling as certain, safe or comfortable as we’d like, we can also meet this need in unresourceful ways – controlling others, overeating, drinking too much, procrastination, wasting time online or watching tv, getting into a rut or forming very rigid routines and habits.
Are any of these familiar to you?
Recognise your choice here: knowing that I need certainty, am I going to rely on external factors to provide me with certainty, meet this need in unhealthy and unresourceful ways or am I going to provide it for myself?
And how might we meet our need for uncertainty?
To meet our need for excitement, variety and uncertainty in resourceful ways we might plan holidays or trips, socialise in ways we find fun, go to concerts, theatre, movies or gigs, sing, dance, create art, take new classes, learn new skills, meet new people or take on challenges such as races or competitions.
If we’re not getting our need for uncertainty met in sustainable, healthy ways, we’re likely to meet this need in other ways that don’t help us. Sabotage, anyone? We might drink too much, create drama, always have problems to solve, spend or socialise excessively, take drugs or go into overwhelm and confusion.
If any of these are familiar to you, take another look at the list of sustainable ways to meet your need for uncertainty – what appeals to you?
What could you add to your life that will help you meet this need in a way that will make you happy?
Becoming aware of our choices.
We can use this knowledge that we have a need for both certainty and uncertainty to empower us to make decisions about meeting these needs in ways which support us, rather than sabotage us.
There’s no need to judge yourself if you notice you’re meeting either or both of these needs in ways that – ahem! – clearly don’t work or can’t be sustained, simply use this awareness to now consider how you might make a better choice.