According to entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Robbins, there are six basic human needs that must be met before an individual can experience personal fulfilment in the healthiest possible way. These six basic needs include the needs for contribution, growth, certainty, uncertainty/variety, significance, and connection/love. While the needs for growth and contribution shape a person’s spiritual wellness and are not always fulfilled, the needs for certainty, connection, significance, and variety are essential in the survival of human beings. If our essential needs are not met, or if they are met in an unhealthy way, we often experience feelings of stress, depression, anxiety, or anger.
What Is the Need for Certainty?
As humans, we all strive to form safe, secure, and meaningful relationships with the people around us. We like to feel that we’re in comfortable relationships, have steady, secure jobs, and that we are safe and protected in the homes in which we live. Feelings of uncertainty can cause us to feel inferior, fearful of the future, and downright depressed.
According to an article written by David Rock and published by Psychology Today, the human body craves the need for certainty in the same way it craves sex, food, and other types of rewards. However, this is often why many people fulfill their need for certainty in negative, unhealthy ways. Many individuals look for certainty in all the wrong places, which causes them to end up in unhealthy or possibly even abusive relationships. Other times, the need for certainty may lead us to become unhappy in our daily lives because the risk of trying something new may seem too difficult.
Certainty in Early Life
Just as adults need certainty, so do children. Studies show that information is rewarding, and a lack of information can affect humans in a negative way—children included. Therefore, the need for stable and secure relationships is very important during a child’s earliest years. If a child grows up feeling uncertain about his or her parents, home life, peers, or future, the future consequences could be quite negative.
According to the Government of Western Australia, parents and teachers must do what they can to provide a child with basic certainty, even if it’s something as minor as setting standards and rules for the child, picking the child up from school on time, or ensuring that the parent has dinner with the child each evening.
10 Ways to Constructively Meet the Need for Certainty
Fortunately, there are many constructive ways that children and adults can meet the need for certainty. We can fulfill this need by building ourselves up, preparing for the future, and making positive life choices.
However, the strong need for certainty may cause other individuals to look for certainty using drugs, alcohol, or by controlling others. Once people fall into a pattern of certainty (even a negative pattern), they may avoid making changes because they tend to fear the unknown. Below, we’ll provide you with ten positive ways to help you and your children meet the strong human need for certainty.
- Do your best in every task you set yourself, ie. Study hard for your tests, complete homework on time…
- Exercise and eat healthy food; it helps you feel and look great and by boosting your self-esteem you will also be fulfilling the need for certainty.
- Instead of setting high expectations regarding the turnout of future events, set plans. You will feel more in control of the situation without setting yourself up for possible disappointment.
- Always prepare for different outcomes to avoid feeling as if things are spinning out of control.
- Get a higher college degree or a take a specific skills course which will help you to create a positive life for yourself.
- Join a community, practice a religion to help you satisfy the need for certainty as well as the need for love/connection.
- Set goals and make sure you reach them. Then reward yourself.
- Give your children space to grow, but remain strict and protective to maintain their safety.
- As often as possible, have dinner together as a family. If it’s not possible to have dinner together regularly, devote at least one evening per week to a family dinner.
- Get rid of negative thoughts. Meditate and practice mindfulness, daily affirmations, and mantras.
- Get rid of added stressors in your life. Practice healthy methods of stress relief such as yoga, massage, relaxation, and set time aside to do things you enjoy.
While a little bit of spontaneity and ambiguity can lead to more excitement and less feelings of boredom, the need for certainty is just as important. Fulfill the human need of uncertainty and variety by learning new things and exploring new areas of interest to avoid getting bored or stuck in a rut.