The 6 Core Needs: How to Tend to Your Core Human Needs in a World That Teaches You Not To

“Among psychologists there is a wide-ranging consensus about what our core needs consist of. These have been variously listed as: belonging, autonomy, genuine self-esteem, trust, purpose, meaning, transcendence…” ~ Dr. Gabor Maté, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture

Human Core Needs

As human beings, we have a responsibility to ourselves and those we love to tend to our core needs; to find out what it is that we require—to be, do and have—in order for us to live life fully and experience healthy levels of happiness, peace and well-being, and tend to these needs.

Because if we don’t, if we wait around for the world to tell us what our needs are and where to look for their fulfillment, chances are that we will lose ourselves in the process of chasing trivial wants and unnatural needs. And then we will walk the Earth not knowing why we’re so unhappy…

What I will share with you today are the 6 core needs shared by Dr. Gabor Maté, in his book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture, in the hope that they will help you take back the reins of your life and start living, no longer as a small little victim in a world that pushes you around, but rather as a victor and the master of your own destiny.

The 6 Core Needs: How to Tend to Your Core Human Needs in a World That Teaches You Not To

1. The core need for belonging.

“One of the most important human core needs, is the need for belonging, relatedness, or connectedness… A society that fails to value communality—our needs to belong, to care for one another, and to feel caring energy flowing towards us—is a society facing away from the essence of what it means to be human. Pathology cannot be ensue.” ~ Dr. Gabor Maté

As human beings, we all need to feel that we belong; we need to feel that we can connect, not only to those we love, and the society in which we live, but to ourselves as well. There is a deep longing for relatedness, or connectedness present in all of us. And although the tendency is to look to the world at large, for help and guidance in fulfilling and tending to these core needs, most of the time, the world, not only does not help us fulfill these needs, it also handicaps us and our connections with one another.

“Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self acceptance.” ~ Brené Brown

If you want to reconnect with the people in your life and the world in which you live, you must first learn to differentiate between what is real and what is not. You must learn to discern between a human being who is made of flesh and blood… who has real thoughts, feelings and emotions, and a persona that was created artificially on an Internet platform or an app. Because there is a huge difference between these two. 

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True connections are established in real life—offline and not online—face to face, and not screen to screen. And unfortunately, a lot of people have forgotten this. People have forgotten that real life is offline, not online. And they can’t believe that, although they are always ‘connected’ online and have so many imaginary friends—because that is what most of these ‘friends’ are, imaginary—they feel lost, disconnected, and all alone. 

To tend to this need for belonging, relatedness, connectedness you must learn to draw a line between the world of illusions and the real world, where real people exist and true connections are in fact established. You must learn to step out of this matrix the world has created, and treat people with the dignity, love and respect they truly deserve.

You must learn to treat yourself with the love, dignity and respect you truly deserve. Because just as Brené Brown pointed out, your sense of belonging can never be greater than your level of self acceptance. 

Your sense of belonging can never be greater than your level of self acceptance. And as long as you continue to secretly hate yourself—judging and condemning every little thing you do, or don’t do—you will feel disconnected, not just from the world around you, but from yourself as well. 

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2. The core need for autonomy.

“Because to take away a man’s freedom of choice, even his freedom to make the wrong choice, is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person.” ~ Madeline L’Engle

Another important human core need is the need for autonomy; the need to feel that your life is in your hands and that you have control over whatever it is that is happening to you. To tend to this great need, you must first learn to withdraw your energy and attention—which are priceless—from whatever it is that’s being presented to you ‘out there’—no matter how hard or impossible it may seem—and bring it back to yourself.

You must do this in order for you to remember that there was never a time when your life wasn’t yours— there never was, and never will be—so that you can rise above this false idea that you are a small little victim in a world that is constantly pushing you around, and that you have absolutely no saying and no control over your reality.

Then, you must learn to silence the noise in your mind, by making time to be still and present with whatever is going on within yourself. A walk in nature, a relaxing bath, meditation, contemplation, reading a good book, etc…. All of these are great ways to get into a place of inner peace and stillness where you can begin to see things clearly and reconnect with the part of you that has been used, abused, and mistreated for so long. In doing so, you will begin to realize that you were never a victim of the world, you were only led to think as one. And the world benefited from you believing and acting as one.

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

Yes! You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. Take back your power. Learn all that can be learned about the power of your mind and how your thoughts, beliefs and perceptions shape your destiny. And no matter what happens outside of you, never give yourself to brutes, as Charlin Chaplin said it so beautifully.

Do not give yourself to “men who despise you, enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think, and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts.” (Charlin Chaplin)

Go within. Shut the door to the world of the senses and learn to access this great love that is already present deep within you. For that is where your true power lies: within yourself!

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3. The core need of mastery or competence.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

With the pursuit of mastery comes a deep sense of happiness, love, dignity, inner peace, and fulfillment. Which means that mastery isn’t a luxury reserved only for a chosen few, but a core need and a birthright that is given and reserved for all. 

The third core human need is the need for mastery or competence; the need to feel that there is something valuable in each and every one of us. And that our talents, work, and skills, are not only deeply valued, but they are also highly compensated.

Men and women everywhere have a right, a duty, and a responsibility—to themselves and to the whole world—to find out their work and then give themselves to it—until the master and the mastery become one. Because if they don’t; if they plan on being anything less than they are capable of being, as Abraham Maslow warned us, they will probably be unhappy all the days of their lives.

4. The core need of genuine self-esteem.

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Another important human core need, according to Dr. Gabor Maté, is the need for “genuine self-esteem, not dependent on achievement, attainment, acquisition, or valuation by others.”

In a world that harasses us into thinking, feeling and believing that without a perfect body, great achievements, and the latest acquisitions of whatever it is the world has to sell us, we are worth nothing, it is crucial that we find the answer to the question: Who Am I?

Who are you? Where do you come from and where are you headed? And where does your real value and true worth come from? Because believe it or not, your value as a human being has nothing to do with how you, or your life looks externally. But it has everything to do with who you are internally.

Seek to find who that is. 

Do not settle for the nonsense the world feeds you. For that is not food for your spirit. That is junk food that is only meant to feed your deepest wounds, fears, and insecurities so that you can walk around like a zombie, believing and feeling as though you are never good enough. 

“Do you know where you come from? You come from the divine sanctuary. Do you not remember passing through those ecstatic spiritual stages? Since you have forgotten them now you feel bewildered and lost. You have sold your soul for a handful of dust. What a cheap bargain you have struck! Give back the dust and recognize your worth, you are not a slave, you are a king. It is for your sake that the beautiful hidden ones have descended from heaven.” ~ Rumi

5. The core value of trust.

The fifth of our human core needs is the need for trust. “Trust” according to Dr. Gabor Maté, is “a sense of having the personal and social resources needed to sustain one through life.”

When the ‘predator’ is no longer around the corner and you can finally trust the world in which you live in—to hold you, to love you and to provide for you—life becomes a walk in the park, and happiness, health, wealth, peace and fulfillment present themselves to you—effortlessly, without you trying to grasp them, and without you constantly having to chase and run after them. 

This isn’t a fantasy. This is what actually happens as your core need for trust is met. So how do you tend to this need?

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By learning to trust yourself—your inner voice, innate wisdom, and intuition—more than the loud and fearful voice of the world;

By spending more time within, and less time ‘out there’;

By nurturing the relationship you have with yourself and your inner divinity, and by learning to develop the gifts that you came into this world with;

By asking more of yourself and less of the world;

By taking your attention away from everything and everyone that scares you and by learning to direct it towards things you trust and love;

By educating yourself about that which is noble, right, loving and true, and by walking the path that leads you back to YOU!

Listen, you are far greater than you think; far more powerful than you were led to believe. But unless you do the work, nothing in your life will change, and the world will continue to remain as it is. 

6. The core value of purpose, meaning, transcendence.

“We are steeped in the normalized myth that we are, each of us, mere individuals striving to attain private goals. The more we define ourselves that way, the more estranged we become from vital aspects of who we are and what we need to be healthy.” ~ Dr. Gabor Maté

The last of our human core needs is the need for “purpose, meaning, transcendence: knowing oneself as part of something larger than isolated, self-centered concerns, whether that something is overly spiritual or simply universal/humanistic, or given our evolutionary origins, Nature.”

The need to feel like you are part of something bigger; that your existence, your presence and your contribution to this world has value, purpose and meaning, is not a luxury, it is a core need… need, which, if not fulfilled, leads to disease… a breakdown in our health—mental, physical, social health. 

“When people start to lose a sense of meaning and get disconnected”, Dr. Bruce Perry told Dr. Gabor Maté,“that’s where disease comes from, that’s when breakdown in our health—mental, physical, social health—occurs.”

The 6 Core Needs: How to Tend to Your Core Human Needs in a World That Teaches You Not To

We need a purpose, a reason for being here. And this reason is to be found, not by searching out there, in vain, but looking within and discovering that which has always been with us and within us all along.

Your purpose is not something you need to find, since your purpose is already within you. And all you have to do is go within. 

Close your eyes. Shut the door to the world of your senses and go within. For that is where you will find the reason for your existence and the purpose of your life. They have been placed there from way before you were born. And now it is up to you do go within the depths of you and bring it to life. 

What about you: “What’s it like when each of the above needs is met? What happens in your mind and body when it’s lacking, denied, or withdrawn?” Dr. Gabor Maté


Luminita D. Saviuc

Luminita is the Founder and Editor in Chief of and also the author of 15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy: An Inspiring Guide to Discovering Effortless Joy. For more details check out the 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy Book Page.

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