The basis of my approach to wellness coaching is to address all areas of life. I have adopted a model including 7 Pillars of Wellness that I use to help my clients optimize their well-being holistically, so they can live a healthy, happy, fulfilling lives. I came across this model after exploring and experimenting with many different theories of human needs, all of which have played a role in my approach to wellness coaching. Here is an overview of three models including the 7 Pillars, plus how and why I use it.
Most models of human needs have been developed as a means to understand human motivation and to promote physical and mental well-being.
Arguably the most famous model was developed by psychologist, Abraham Maslow, back in the mid-1900s.
Maslow's theory posited that the first need (physiological) must be fulfilled before a person would have any need for the next level (safety), and so on up the pyramid to transcendence. He later adjusted this assumption to be more flexible, believing that the order of needs achievement was not the same for everyone.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (the original 5, plus 3 new categories added to his work more recently):
- Physiological: air, water, food, shelter, sleep, reproduction
- Safety: personal security, employment, resources, health, property
- Belonging: love, friendship, intimacy, family, connection
- Esteem: respect, self-esteem, status, recognition, strength, freedom
- Cognitive (new): knowledge, understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning, predictability
- Aesthetic (new): appreciation, search for beauty, balance, form
- Self-Actualization: desire to become the most that one can be, achieve full potential
- Transcendence (new): motivated by values which transcend personal self (mystical, religious, science, nature, etc.)
A newer model is put forward by life coach and self-help guru, Anthony Robbins. Robbins' proposes that success and happiness can be found by meeting the fundamental needs of human beings.
These needs, he says, drive our motivations, decisions and behaviours for everything we do, whether beneficial or not. And by understanding these needs we can find better ways to meet them.
Tony Robbins' 6 Core Human Needs:
- Certainty: safety, security, stability, comfort, order, control, consistency
- Variety: the need for variety, surprise, challenges, excitement, adventure, novelty
- Significance: the need to have meaning, feel special, pride, be needed/wanted, feel important, worthy of love
- Love & Connection: the need for love, communication, belonging, attachment, intimacy, connected to others
- Growth: the need for ongoing emotional, intellectual and spiritual development
- Contribution: the need to give beyond ourselves, give, care, protect, serve others.
The first four are considered needs of the personality and the last two are needs of the spirit. The first pair (certainty and variety) and the second pair (significance and love & connection) work in contrast to each other, with a preference for a semblance of balance between the pair. For example if you have too much certainty, you may crave more variety, or if you spend too much time gaining significance, you may have trouble finding deep, meaningful relationships that thrive on love & connection.
I have used both of these models and value their perspective on human potential and well-being. However, I wasn't quite satisfied with either of them. I was seeking a simple, comprehensive model that includes the core areas of the daily human experience AND is easily applied in the coaching process. Here's where I landed...
The 7 Pillars of Wellness:
- Physical – the physical health of your body: sound nutritional practices, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, engaging in physical activity, avoiding risky behavior, preventative medical care.
- Financial – money and occupation: security, living within your means, future financial health, consumer awareness, satisfaction at work.
- Environmental – contribution to & support of your surroundings: having a home, furniture, equipment & tools that support you, access to resources and services, decluttering, a well-stocked pantry, global environmental stewardship.
- Social – relationships and belonging: strong social network, friendships, family relationships, sharing, empathy, active listening, support & guidance for/from others, committing to common good.
- Emotional – emotional wellness: personal feelings, balanced emotional state, accepting limitations, reducing stress, expressing emotions effectively, adjusting to change, and maintaining healthy relationships, counseling when needed.
- Intellectual – managing your inner game: addressing fears, stress, limiting beliefs, ability to deal with problems, sense of autonomy and confidence, curiosity & engagement, learning, creative activities.
- Spiritual or Self-Actualization – exploring beliefs, values, ethics: finding meaning, seeking spiritual development, quest for value and purpose, peace and contentment, achieving your full potential, and developing the fortitude to continue in the face of obstacles.
The Physical, Financial and Environmental pillars address the need for health, safety and security.
The Social and Emotional pillars address the need for belonging, contribution and self-esteem.
The Mental and Spiritual/Self-Actualization pillars address the need for growth, fulfillment and meaning.
I love using the 7 Pillars of Wellness because it identifies the main areas of a person's daily life experience, making it easy to understand, remember, and apply in coaching and it integrates what I've learned from Maslow, Robbins and others' models of human needs. I'd love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below.
TAKE ACTION TODAY: Apply this model to your own life and find ways to improve the areas that are least satisfactory to you to create more well-being and overall balance in your life.
Peace and ease,
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