Is Our Understanding of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Upside Down?
In a competitive world where the excesses of capitalism and materialism seem difficult to turn around, finding a starting point is imperative. Understanding how we have got to this point can be found in our current understanding of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Many people are striving to fulfil the first two needs of satisfying their physiological needs and feeling safe. They may have brief forays into the next one (belongingness), but rarely the fourth or fifth.
Are you stuck trying to meet your physiological and safety needs? Do you believe the world is competitive? Do you feel the idea of safety is getting further and further away? You need more money to put a roof over your head, have enough superannuation, medical insurance to ensure your health, life insurance, accident insurance, disability insurance. All of these encourage the “fear” which keeps people stuck on the bottom two rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Who has time to grow up through the third, fourth or fifth.
- Self-actualisation: morality, creativity, problem solving. There is an excellent article in the Huff Post about the 12 Characteristics of a self-actualised person. I can see all the attributes of my grandchildren. Babies and toddlers, already show the characteristics of a self-actualised person. They grow naturally. They are not concerned with the bottom two rungs.
- Esteem: confidence, self-esteem, achievement, respect. Children lose confidence and self-esteem when they start to compare themselves with others. Test-results, grading of classes and competitiveness in all areas encourages this. They are introduced to the idea of “not good enough”. Advertising and media in general encourage the current world system of “have” and “have-not”. People question their value, their worth. The focus is on how they are perceived externally, their “value” in a competitive market place. Children are not taught anywhere about their inherent worth. Being themselves is the most worthwhile thing they can be. Everyone is needed to make this world the full, diverse, creative, functioning world it is.
- Belongingness: family, community, world, universe. Babies and toddlers do not discriminate. They may need to learn to share at first and yet toddlers are some of the most generous humans around. They have no judgements about others and they do not worry if they belong or not. We are taught to discriminate. How old were you when you were first taught about third-world countries? Even the language is discriminatory. We are taught to judge, usually based on economic or financial grounds thus conditioning us further to stick to the bottom two rungs lest we become “one of them.” We are not encouraged to find our “tribe” based on mutual interests of art, music, philosophy, the carers, the architects, the inventors. The language is of ‘nerds’, losers and nobodies, usually based on a financial fiction.
- Safety: includes security of environment, employment, resources, health, property. In a competitive world, safety is hard. When the world is focused first and foremost on the bottom two rungs the ability to achieve either, becomes harder. Safety and the meeting of physiological needs become a by-product of a world where competition is relegated to the sports field as people are free to feel good about themselves. Creativity, innovation, generosity, sharing and inclusiveness is the norm rather than an ideal to strive for.
- Physiological: includes air, food, water, sex, sleep, other factors towards homeostasis. These things become a need that can be hard to satisfy because of how our current world is structured. As a planet we produce enough food to feed everyone 10 times over. Clean drinking water could be provided, if it wasn’t being destroyed by the push for more productivity, more of stuff we don’t need. All physiological needs are able to be met if we understand generosity is good, greed is not. Greed only comes about because people are stuck in the bottom two rungs, feeling “not enough” therefore having to fulfil that need through external, material things. Turning the hierarchy on it’s head ends the “Need” to focus on these bottom two at all, they become a by-product of a life lived to its full potential.
A Life Coach understands a person has everything they need to be successful inside of them. Coaching is about getting rid of all the crud, conditioning and false beliefs stopping a person from being who they were born to be. Therefore, in every sense we take them back to who they were as babies/toddlers to start afresh. Changing our thinking on a global scale, to turn Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on it’s head now will bring forth the evolution we require.
Please leave a comment. I would love to get a discussion moving on this.
Love and Light