Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

All of us have been asked this at some point in our lives, perhaps by a parent, an auntie, a teacher. And as kids, we likely responded enthusiastically,

“Wonder Woman!”

“A prince!”

“A mermaid!”

A doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, a journalist, a business owner.

Even in childhood, we all had dreams of what we could become, but how many of us actually feel like we’re working towards those dreams now? Do we feel like we’re moving forward or moving in circles? Are we happy? Are we living up to our potential?

We all strive to make something of our life. We have an innate desire to grow, achieve and become who we are meant to be in this lifetime. This is what it is to “self-actualize” – reaching our full potential and accomplishing that something we’ve always wanted to accomplish.

This desire is nothing new. In fact, it is human nature and one that has spawned many a theory. One such theory has been proposed by American psychologist Abraham Maslow. In 1943, he suggested that human beings have certain needs that can be arranged in a hierarchical pyramid (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs):

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The bottom four levels comprise the “deficiency needs” which are more primitive needs. These include physiological needs like eating, drinking and sleeping; safety needs like health and financial security; the need for love and a sense of belonging (typically from family, friends, partners); and esteem needs like self-confidence and acceptance from others.

The top of the pyramid is comprised of “growth needs” – needs that enable people to reach their fullest potential and self-actualize. To self-actualise requires uncommon qualities like independence, proactiveness, creativity and originality. This self-actualization need is the most sought after by human beings, yet only a small minority of people are ever able to self-actualise because “reaching your full potential” is not as simple as it sounds! In order to be able to focus on self-actualization, all our deficiency needs must first be met. This is problematic because, in our world, we are so busy trying to meet our primitive needs for food, money, shelter, fulfilling employment and community that only the privileged few are ever able to reach the top of that pyramid.

This is the Maslow Initiative’s mission: to help people meet all their “deficiency needs” in order to enable them to pursue their “growth needs”, self-actualization.

Because wouldn’t it be nice to finally be who we’ve always wanted to be?

Written By – Noelle Dumo

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