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Three Core Needs That All Humans Crave

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Katrina Levy Zidel

Founder and Creation Coach

Kreating Boldly, Inc.


Three Core Needs That All Humans Crave

Humans have three core emotional needs that they crave: safety, belonging, and feeling significant in the world. These three needs are essential to all humans and can have a major impact on a person's success at work, at home, and in life overall. When we are able to identify which need is present in ourselves or in others, we can better connect and support each other and work towards a desired outcome. The key is understanding how to decode specific behaviors to interpret and make sense of what craving lies beneath.


Safety is one of our basic human needs that has been evolutionarily hardwired into us, and it strongly influences our motivation, behavior, and decision-making process. We are constantly seeking ways to minimize danger and threats to ourselves and our loved ones. We seek safety in our physical, financial, and emotional wellbeing, as well as certainty in our future. We have a need to experience control, predictability, and order in our lives, and all of these are fundamental motivational drivers for feeling safe Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.


Belonging has been identified as a universal human need that is instinctual. We are born with the need to be close to others, and having connection is a vital part of the human experience. People want to share life's experiences with others and are typically happier when they feel supported in their goals, dreams, failures, fears, and more. Feeling connected with others allows us to feel as if we are a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves and has been linked to enhanced overall well-being and quality of life. Every bond we forge with another human is motivated by our need for connection.

True belonging doesn't require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.

- Brené Brown


There is not a person alive on the planet who doesn't want to feel important or needed. When we strive to meet our need for significance, it gives us a sense of contribution and calls us to stand up for what we believe in and for the value that we bring to the world. We all want to count for something, whether that's within our family, in the work we do, or in society at large. Feeling like we matter increases our sense of self-worth and motivation, and it also influences our self-esteem and self-worth. Experiencing mattering also reaffirms that we have a purpose and allows us to feel noticed, important, and needed.

Decoding the Deeper Human Needs

Here are some clues to help you identify the deeper human needs beneath a person's behavior, which can then help you understand their core craving:

Craving Safety

  • Fight/Flight/Freeze behavior
  • Avoidance/Disconnecting
  • Defensiveness/Tension
  • Suspiciousness/Doubt
  • Gossiping/Starting Rumors

Craving Belonging

  • Talking about "me/us vs. them"
  • Isolating/Forming Silos
  • Withholding Information
  • Ghosting/Not Responding
  • People Pleasing

Craving Significance

  • Victimhood/Complaining
  • Perpetually seeking recognition/validation
  • Talking about not being appreciated/valued
  • Being Condescending/Arrogant
  • Shutting others down
  • Overly self-focused

Supporting People in Feeling Safe, Connected, and Important

Here are some ways to support people in feeling safe, connected, and important:

  • Be fully present: Give your undivided attention and be there both physically and mentally in the moment. Sit across from the person without any devices or distractions. Look them in the eye and be aware of your facial expressions and body language to ensure an open invitation for them to be heard and seen.
  • Use active listening: Get curious and be neutral, and do not force a position or direction, but allow yourself to ponder what is being said. This enables someone to more easily feel as if they are part of the conversation.
  • Use reflective listening: Repeat or rephrase what you heard the person say and reflect on the aspect of what you heard in a non-judgmental way.
  • Use validation: Validate the person's feelings so they feel heard and understood. It shows you are really listening to understand the other person's feelings and point of view, even if you disagree.
  • Listen without trying to "fix": Seek to understand, not to judge or solve. You don't need to have all the answers. Just show that you care and you're interested in what they are saying. Talking with them about their concerns shows them you care.
  • Remind them how much they mean to you: Authentically check in with the people in your life. Recognize and acknowledge people's unique strengths and talents and show people the difference they make. Showing people that you need them and that they are essential can be very powerful.

Understanding what someone is truly craving by identifying what lies beneath their behavior builds trust and improves outcomes. This is where true rapport, connection, alignment, and engagement live. When we can reinforce safety, belonging, and significance for a person, we create lasting relationships, increased motivation, stronger commitment, enhanced productivity, and improved results that can bolster experiences for all involved.

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