Part 2 is going to explain how everything we do in life is driven by the 6 Human Needs and how we can choose positive or negative ways to meet these needs which will determine whether they are an empowering or destructive force in our lives and on our physical health. After introducing the 6 human needs we will examine how these needs play into chronic pain and whether people are able to become pain free again.
The 6 human needs. All humans have the need for:
- Certainty/comfort - We all have a need for safety, stability, comfort, control, predicability, and consistency. We need to be certain the roof won't fall on us and the floor won't collapse under our feet. We need to know that we'll have food to eat and a warm bed to sleep in at night. Some people satisfy these need by going on a run every morning, or eating lunch at the same restaurant every day, or going to church every weekend, which can all be positive. But other people will satisfy the need for certainty by trying to control everything and everyone around them which is a negative way to satisfy these need. We'd all go crazy without a good amount of certainty in our lives, but if everything was certain we would be bored, which is why we have a need for...
- Uncertainty/variety - We all need surprise, excitement, challenge, and adventure to keep life interesting and keep us engaged. We can get variety by watching new movies, traveling to new places, or by always learning something new which are positive ways to get variety. Other people get variety in negative ways by cheating on their significant other or by doing drugs or alcohol to change their state of mind. Without variety we'd become bored and with too much uncertainty we'd become extremely fearful. While these first two needs are paradoxical, we need a balance of both in our lives.
- Significance - We all have a need to feel significant, unique, and important which gives us special meaning and purpose in our lives. Positive ways to feel significant could be being valedictorian of your class, running for political office, starting a club, or being an actor/actress. Destructive ways of feeling significant could be being a bully, putting down others, or committing workplace sexual harassment. In order to feel unique we have to separate ourselves from others and if we get too separate we get lonely, which is why we also have a need for...
- Connection/love - We all have a need to feel connected with ourselves and with others and have someone we can share our love with. We can meet this need for connection in a positive way by joining a meditation group, running club, or book club. We can also meet this need for connection in a negative way by joining a gang or hate group. We all want to give love and feel loved, and if we can't find love we settle for connection. The need for significance and the need for connection/love are paradoxical and we all need to find a balance between the two.
- Growth - We all have a need for intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth. As they say, everything that is alive is either growing or dying. To be truly happy in life, it doesn't matter how much money you have, how famous you are, or how many adventures you go on, if you're not growing you'll never be truly happy and fulfilled. But to experience true joy and fulfillment, in addition to personally growing, we also must experience meaningful...
- Contribution - When we use our talents and gift to help others and serve the greater good, that is when we have reached the peak human experience of true joy and fulfillment. The happiest people on earth are not those with the most money or success, but the ones who contribute to the most to others.
The 6 human needs and chronic pain
Addiction is when something satisfy 3 or more human needs. In the example above, this person's chronic pain is considered an addiction. If this person wants to get rid of their chronic pain and become pain free again, they are going to have to find new alternative ways to satisfy each human need. Working with clients with chronic pain over the last 15 plus years, I've helped many people do just that. I help the client use Egoscue or Posture Alignment Therapy as a tool to help them satisfy their human needs.
The exercise routine (menu) that the client does every day is a new way to satisfy their need for certainty. They also have certainty that they will feel better and have less pain each time they do their menu. Changing their exercises each week gives them variety. The client can get connection with their exercise therapist and the community of Egoscue clients worldwide. As the client feels better, I encourage the client to rejoin groups and activities they used to do, whether it's a golf club, tennis club, or walking group, this will give them connection in a positive way. The client can feel significant by overcoming their chronic pain and telling their story to others. Growth comes from learning about human anatomy and physiology and how their exercises are restoring their posture and function. They can contribute by teaching others what they have learned.