Recently, I went on a bad date. If you can even call it that.
There’s a guy that I’ve had a micro crush on for months and he finally texted me to hang out! I swooned over every text as we spent the next 3 days making plans to get together. We finally decided to hang out on his balcony and chat over cider, just to get to know each other.
But as soon as I entered his apartment, I knew that something was off. He immediately asked if I would be willing to walk his dog while he was traveling for work and, once I said yes, his interest in getting to know me completely disappeared.
We sat on his balcony with our ciders and, less than 30 minutes after I’d arrived, he confirmed that I would walk his dog and then told me he still had a lot of work to do.
I left his apartment with half a cider still in my hands and a hanging cloud of disappointment above me. How could I have been so stupid?
I didn’t think about how misleading he’d been. I didn’t think about how he shouldn’t have spent so long making plans… or at least just asked me over text to take care of his dog. All I could think about was how I’d put myself out there when I shouldn’t have.
As I walked down the hallway and through the elevator, my critical voice showed up loud and clear in my head, taking advantage of my weak moment. “You’re not good enough, pretty enough, funny enough… why would he ever be interested in you?”
I came home and barely made it to my room before the tears started. This wasn’t just one bad date. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and as I sat in my room alone with my thoughts, I became desperate for an escape from myself. That’s when I did what I always do, I took myself to the kitchen.
Food has been my method of coping for as long as I can remember. I’ve always turned to food for comfort and, even though it hurts me in the long run, it satisfies this need within me that I don’t know how to fill any other way.
I ate my way through that kitchen and felt absolutely awful afterwards, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Still, this wasn’t the first time it had happened and I knew, it probably wouldn’t be the last.
I’m telling you this story because, when you have chronic health conditions, it’s important to be able to understand what pushes us to act on lifestyle factors that have such a dramatic effect on our health and wellbeing.
Binge eating has been an ongoing problem for me and I’ve struggled to understand why. But this week, I listened to a podcast from Tony Robbins about the six human needs and it explained everything to me. I highly suggest listening to it: Listen now!
According to Robbins, we all have the same six needs that we’re trying to satisfy. If we find a coping mechanism that can satisfy three or four of our needs, it becomes an addition to us.
And of course, we’re all different, so even though we all have these six needs, we don’t value them equally. That means that we are trying to satisfy these six needs, but we each put them at a different level of importance and that affects which ones you try to satisfy first.
For example, I may place more value on satisfying my need for love/connection more than personal growth, so I will do things to satisfy the love/connection with a stronger coping mechanism than I would to promote growth.
The Six Human Needs:
Connection & love.
You can fulfill them in ways that are positive, negative, or neutral.
We get certainty through different ways of coping to avoid pain and have comfort. Just like when I take myself to the kitchen to binge, I am gaining certainty because I KNOW the food will provide comfort and an escape from my negative self talk, even if only for a little while. We can meet this need by getting angry, praying, doing a ritual, lowering expectations or any other action that has a very clear and certain result.
Uncertainty is also a driving need because it’s too easy to get bored when we always know the exact outcome. We need variety in life to keep things interesting, which is probably why I binge on different things every time. I know the food will comfort me, but what I eat is always different. We can meet this need through learning, growing, talking to a friend, praying, smoking a joint or cigarettes or any other action that has an unclear result.
Significance is the need to feel important or special. When I left that guy’s apartment, I felt pretty insignificant and needed to find relief from that feeling. Binging doesn’t make me feel important, but my decision to binge gives me control over my emotions which creates a feeling of dominance. We meet this need by working hard and taking risks to achieve something special or by tearing down everyone else who’s trying to build something.
Connection & love are pretty easy for most of us to understand, but it’s important to note…. We seek love until it hurts us. Most people don’t want to be hurt like that, so they settle for connection. We meet this need through prayer, gifts, dressing special, having big problems… anything that will provide any sort of human to human connection.
Growth is where we get happiness from. Progress means moving forward. We meet this need by having development in some area of life. If your goal is to get fit, you may not see results in the gym after a week, but the progress towards the goal will satisfy this need.
Contribution is the need to step outside of ourselves. When something is really good, we feel compelled to share it because there’s only so much positivity we can have within us. When we share something positive, that positivity grows. We can fulfill this need by sharing thoughts, events, entertainment, laughter, etc., with other people.
The good news is that being aware of these needs and learning how to fill them through a more positive method of coping will allow us to let go of our negative coping skills. Your needs have to be met, so it comes down to learning what needs you value more and an action plan to satisfy them.
Now that I recognize that binge eating connects to the first three needs, it’s important to create an action plan to fulfill those needs elsewhere by choosing positive coping mechanisms that will have the same effect. According to this, over time, the habit of binging should subside because I will be getting my needs met elsewhere.
What do you think about Tony Robbin’s concept of the six human needs? I’d love to hear your opinion, please leave a comment and fulfill a need through contribution. :-)
Without The Weight, Inc. is a health coaching business run by Mindset Coach, Carolyn Kaufman. Through her own personal experience of severe obesity and Multiple Sclerosis, Carolyn has learned how to use a variety of tools to overcome her health challenges. Now, through this blog, events, and coaching, she plans to bring what she’s learned to anyone who is suffering and seeking relief. Contact Carolyn for her services at Carolyn@WithoutTheWeight.com.