Why do we do the things we do?


Why? “My partner always complains because I do not follow her schedule. I just like to go with the flow. I want to make her happy, but I end up doing my own thing because it is too hard”, said Kojo. Are you like him? Do you feel frustrated about why you do the things you do? This is why – Human need.

Core human needs

Human needs are commonly used to refer to the drivers of peoples’ actions, the motives behind human behavior. Everyone has a unique trait that defines him or her. Such traits are not innate, they are formed as a person develops.  Many of these needs are formed during childhood because children have less experiences. They take in information from the environment, whether positive or negative. It is this information that helps forms a person’s belief and values. It has been proven that stress during childhood affects the brain’s chemistry and development. It is essential to provide a serene and creative environment for children. For instance, a child raised in a ghetto will react differently than one raised in a palace. These two children may end up with different needs. For instance, the child raised in a palace may not need prioritize education over food whilst the ghetto child would prioritize food over education. All behaviors depend on the ability to meet those needs whether good or bad.

The human needs

1.      Certainty- the need to plan every aspect of your life and day.

2.      Variety- the need to be spontaneous and take bold risk.

3.      Significance-the need to be recognized among others.

4.      Connection-the need to love and be loved.

5.      Growth-the need to constantly grow and expand in aspects of your life

6.      Contribution- the need to give back to others.

If you were to rank this from the highest to the lowest in terms of what you need, how would you rank them?

Each one of us prioritizes our needs differently and we will make decisions and cat according to the needs we need to fulfill. Understanding your needs will help you to avoid toxic behaviours and achieve your goals.

1.      Certainty

If you have the need to be certain, you always want to feel safe and secured with every decision you make. You plan your whole life and each day as you move on. You think about what to eat and do even before tomorrow arrives. You are conscious of your environment and control it by letting some people in or avoiding some interactions with others. If you think something may not help you, you let it go. This gives you the assurance that a decision you made will bring you joy or avoid pain, which fulfills your basic human need for certainty.

This need is important because people can trust you to do something for them. You make plans and fulfill them.
The disadvantage is that you might become obsessed with certain behaviours and take less risks. . You might get frustrated when things do not go according to plan.
Planning your life and day is vital for survival. Nonetheless, you can always modify your plans and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

2.      Variety

Variety is the spice of life, but some take it to he extreme. Such individuals are always changing jobs when they feel like, i.e., adrenaline rush. They can decide to quit their jobs and start something they believe in.

They are outgoing, love meeting new people and travelling.

Due to this behaviour, they have might end up learning new and interesting skills. They know people they can run to.
Sometimes, they can be unfocused and lack planning skills. They wish to do what they desire and may nit be the best team player.

3.      Significance

This is one of the needs most leaders share. In a room, they want to be heard and seen. It makes them feel important. Significance is even common among commoners. Being recognized gives humans a sense of validation. Being recognized is a type of measuring system in our society today. The more you are recognized, the more important you are. Recognition is important at the workplace to promote productivity among employees.

People devise ways of becoming significant through diverse means. Others take up new skills, others surround themselves with people who are less successful than they are to feel important.

They may end up becoming perfectionist which can sometimes be worrying.
Fulfilling your needs of significance is not a bad idea, you can always begin by learning new things ton stand out.

4.      Connection/love

If connection or love is one of your top needs, then you understand the meaning of relationships. You are loyal and trustworthy so people can rely on you. You sacrifice for the wellbeing of others and find it hard to say ‘no”.

The disadvantage is that people might end up taking advantage of you.
Loving others is incredibly important but you should love yourself as well.

5.      Growth

If growth was one of your top 2, then you are constantly looking for opportunities to be better. You like pushing boundaries. Such individuals are good at their jobs but move on quickly when they assume they have reached their potential in that aspect.

People with this need as their top priority may end up losing relationships with people since they always expect them to behave better each day.
Becoming better at what you do is important, but you must make sure you don’t lose some important people in your life on your way to the top.

6.      Contribution

The one who gives always gets in return. If this was ranked highly, then you are a kind person. You want to do the best you can. You have the need to leave a legacy which is highly admirable.

The disadvantage is that you may end up helping from outside whilst forgetting those at home or closest to you.

You can always start by giving to those around you and extending it to others. It does not necessarily have to be money, time and service is also important.

Remember, that all humans have all the 6 needs above. However, ranking them in order determines the type of person you are. When you recognize which needs you prioritize, you can always acknowledge it and work towards it to become a better version of yourself.


1.      Mind meaning. Retrieved from https://www.tonyrobbins.com/mind-meaning/do-you-need-to-feel-significant/

2.      Human needs. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-94-007-0753-5_1345

PsychologySocial Science