Day 129: Money and Certainty

I have written numerous times about my penchant for personal money management.  It is true, I tend to enjoy the process of deciding how I am going to use my money.  Yet recently I got a new perspective on this, which brought to light perhaps the more serious side of why this is so important to me.

It started with (yet another) incredibly insightful Tony Robbins video. In this video, Robbins works closely with a struggling couple at one of his workshops (check out the video here).   As the video begins, the unhappy couple seem to be on the brink of divorce.  Robbins coaches them extensively, and by the end of the video, he helps them see what was not working in the relationship as well as how to fix it.  There is restored hope between them, and when the video cuts to six months later, they seem completely transformed, aligned and happy.

It is always extraordinary to see what Robbins can do in working with people.  Yet the part that really struck me was when Robbins explained about the six basic human needs.  According to Robbins, we humans have six basic needs.  They are the need for:

  • Certainty
  • Variety/Uncertainty
  • Love/Connection
  • Significance
  • Growth
  • Contribution

He said that each person has one or two needs that are dominant for them.  The woman in the example had a strong need for Certainty, which I believe Robbins also called Security.  Anyway, I started to think about what my most dominant needs are. 

I realized that I have a strong need for financial certainty (or security).  I grew up in what I perceived as a highly uncertain financial environment.  As I perceived it, having enough money was not a given.  In fact, I grew up thinking that money was hard to come by, and that we might not have enough money to pay our bills (I remember being younger than eight having a fear that we would lose our house after over-hearing my parents talk about the mortgage).  I grew up with feelings of fear and anxiety around the topic of money, and a general doubt that things would in the money sphere would be okay.

In thinking it over, I finally put two and two together.  I grew up with a strong, unmet need for financial certainty.  As an adult, this has manifested in how carefully and attentively I watch my own money, and how much pleasure I get out of the process.  It soothes me.  At the same time, I have often had to deal with the automatic baggage of growing up in what I perceived as a financially uncertain world.   Now I know why.  Turns out it satisfies a very basic need which was missing for me when I was young.

Not everyone is like this.  My wife, for one, does not have this same need for reassurance that everything is okay financially.  I think she would agree with me on that.   She may feel her own strong need for certainty,  but it manifests in other areas.  It doesn’t seem my brother has the same concern for financial certainty, either.  Nor do either of my parents, that I can tell.

Wow. That answers a big question of why I am the way I am. And yes, this really matters. Everyone has their own needs. We are not all the same. It is valuable to acknowledge your needs, and to do whatever you can to make sure they are being met.

Realizing this about myself helps put yet another piece of the puzzle in place.  Robbins helped me ask myself what do I really need to feel certain, to feel secure.  My answer was, “I need to know that everything is going to be okay with our money.”

 This knowledge may not solve everything, but it is a start.  It is a validation for me to meet those needs that are deep within me.  I don’t need to feel weird about being the way I am. 

Quite the contrary, turns out that, for me, this is what being human looks like.

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