1. Significance – I want to know that I am special, chosen, and worthy of love.
The important thing to note with this common need is where we are getting our sense of significance. In what ways do we tell ourselves we are significant? Suffering arises when our significance comes from comparison to things external to us. True significance comes when we have the assurance that we are worthy of attention simply because we are, not because someone else validated that we are.
2. Connection – I want to experience being known, deeply loved, and supported.
We are all relational creatures longing to tell our story and for our story to be heard. The important thing to note with this basic human need is the risk of vulnerability. Without the risk of vulnerability, we can never experience the deep connection our heart is longing for. When we do not risk vulnerability, we settle for surface-level connection that never fulfills our need. We end up in a place of aching and suffering where we desperately settle for lust; a place where satisfying our thirst becomes more important than true companionship and intimacy.
3. Growth – I want to learn and develop into my best self.
Growth is a need that prevents us from becoming stagnant. It is built into our very DNA that we are developmental creatures. The important thing to note with this need is the posture in which we seek growth. The gift of growth is that it provides us an opportunity to remain in a humble and present posture. We will never know everything. In some ways, we are all beginners. Suffering can come when our pride tells us we already know, and therefore our seeking becomes for the sake of performance rather than true self-development. Suffering can also come when we are so focused on growth, we miss the beauty of living in the present moment in full acceptance.
4. Contribution – I want to know that I impact the world for better.
How great is it that we are wired with the urge to leave things better off than we found them? The important thing to remember with this need is why you are contributing. Is your motive to change the world in order to make others’ lives better, or is it so that your name can end up in a history book? Suffering comes when our contributions have hidden agendas with strings of expectation attached. True contribution is content with nothing in return but the reward of giving itself.
5. Uncertainty – I want to experience life to the fullest.
It is normal to feel bored and to hope for redemption. It does not take long to look around and realize the depth of variety in our creation. Our environment is booming with the cycle of life, from newness to death. Change is constant. The important thing to note with the need for uncertainty is maintaining the value of reality and relationships. We can so easily get caught up in experience seeking that we begin to deny any part of our reality that is not positive or pleasurable. We can also begin to lose focus of our relationships, where activities and experiences replace true intimacy. True uncertainty comes in the fullness of all of life, both the joy and difficulties, as well as the experiences and people.
6. Certainty - I want the assurance of comfort and safety.
Self-preservation is great in its ability to keep us alive and unharmed. There is no way to simply turn off our longing for certainty because it is a need, not just a desire. We cannot not fight to keep ourselves breathing and comfortable. The important thing to keep in mind with our need for certainty is our fear. When our need for certainty leads us to a place of fear, we can become rigid and closed-off. We become closed-fisted and teeth clenched. Our struggle becomes one of self-reliance. We medicate with our own narrow view of right and wrong, safe and unsafe, leading to a place of defensiveness. True certainty comes from something greater than ourselves. Whatever your belief system is, reliance on a higher power who is in control and trustworthy allows us true rest.