A Sense of Self

It begins with trust. You have to listen to your innermost being or soul and trust, without being led astray by the ego which is often distracted by bright, shiny things. A sense of self is the recognition that we are spiritual beings using the human body as a vehicle. Delve deeply and you will find that a sense of self is often tied to our identity.

Often we align our sense of “Self” with our identity of what we do for a living. For instance, I was a teacher, so often my conversations were defined by teaching, school, students and so on. Being a “school teacher” was a vehicle that has been superseded by other vehicles that I have chosen. I still use the teacher identity or vehicle on occasion, but it’s more like a vintage car that is garaged and brought out for special occasions.

The vehicle you choose to use can be changed so long as it works in a powerful way that allows you to be congruent with your inner self.  Ideally, what you do for a living should be aligned with your personal beliefs. There are many unhappy people walking this earth studying or working in fields that they “should” do or are expected to do, and this can be dictated by our core needs.

A sense of self and Maslow's Hierarchy of needsAnthony Robbins suggests that we have at least 6 Core Needs that have to be fulfilled to achieve success and ultimately happiness. Compare this to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where he organized 5 basic needs into a pyramid where physiological needs like food and shelter and safety needs such as security form the base of the pyramid.

Maslow then orders “Belongingness and Love” relating to friends and relationships and “Esteem” which relates to accomplishments are our psychological needs. The cap on Maslow’s pyramid is Self Actualization which can only be fulfilled once all the other needs below have been met.

Four of Robbins Core Needs relate to our personality and he outlined these in a much viewed TED talk. These needs are Certainty/ Variety; Uncertainty/Significance and Love & Connection and there is a certain level of contradiction between each core need. For instance if we have too much certainty in our  lives, then there is no variety and if we put too much weight on achieving significance, then often we will neglect our connection with loved ones.

What does certainty mean to you? Robbins puts forward a list that includes safety, stability, security, comfort and order and you can certainly see how they would fit into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  There are many people in the world today that would love to have certainty in their lives, yet are denied it by shifting political and environmental confines.

“Variety is the spice of life” is an old saying. Without it we wouldn’t have our intrepid explorers who craved adventure or being able to rise to a challenge as we seek to make changes in our existence.

Significance is about the need to feel needed or wanted. Taking pride in what you do demonstrates the core need to feel special or important whether it is for personal satisfaction or for others. Volunteering is a wonderful example of meeting our need  for significance. We can also be quite unresourceful when attempting to meet this need for significance. Who hasn’t been the recipient of gossip or had to listen to endless sad tales about someone’s life?

Love and connection is innate. From birth we crave connection as we are essentially social creatures. Business networking, memberships of clubs and associations fulfill the adult need for connection, even if it may seem overly purposeful at times.

The remaining two core needs are Growth and Contribution and these relate to our needs of the spirit. To nourish our spirit we need to feed it with emotional and spiritual activities. One of my favourite sayings (& I can’t remember where it came from) is “You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting”.

To get a clearer sense of self, ask yourself the following questions. Make a list or a table of your answers and include alongside them your skills and unique characteristics.

What have you achieved?

What do you believe you can still achieve?

What are your limits?

What are your values?

What are your fears?

Who are you becoming?

Need a little help in getting clear about your core needs? Call to discuss which coaching package is best suited for you.