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Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: The Pyramid that Guides Our Lives

We’ve all had motivation problems at some point in our lives. This stems from a lack of our needs being met in other areas of our lives. In order to find the problem, we must look at Maslow hierarchy of needs first.

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs is What Motivates Us

Do you want to learn how to make yourself more motivated? Look no further than the Maslow hierarchy of needs. It's our basic instinctual needs that guide our behaviors and explains why we do the things that we do.

pyramid and woman

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

1. Physiological

Our physiological needs are the basic survival needs of all humans. We cannot achieve a higher sense of self if our basic physiological needs are met; that much is sure.

2. Safety

Safety comes after survival, for without safety we fear for our lives. The fear of an unsafe environment hinders our growth. Safety is essential.

3. Love

The feeling of love and belonging is of the utmost important for a growing human. The earlier on we have a safe and warm feeling from contact from others, the more well-adjusted our adulthood will be.

4. Esteem

Esteem can come from many sources. Esteem is how we think of ourselves; normally as defined by others. We need love and acceptance from others before we can accept ourselves.

5. Self-Actualization

Self-actualization is the maximization of one’s potential. In order to be motivated for a more righteous world-conscious state of mind, our first four needs must be met first.

If our most basic needs our not met, then we cannot move onto the higher levels of the hierarchy. It's a theory of human motivation that cannot be ignored; because if you look back on your life, the Maslow hierarchy describes all of your past decisions. The Maslow theory of motivation says we cannot be motivated to be civilized without our more simple needs being met. If you need a clearer example: everything in the pyramid can be seen in the behavior of babies.

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs Defines our Behaviors Better than Anything Else Can. This Pyramid of Human Needs is the Guiding Force in our Lives

If you've wondered why people behave the way they do, it isn't too difficult to figure out when you understand our motivations. Our motivation process is guided by our needs; most of the time by our most basic needs for survival.

1. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: Physiological Needs

The first level of the Maslow pyramid is our physiological requirement for survival. These are the absolute necessities we need, and are often found most obviously in babies. We need food, water, and air. The Maslow theory has these as the big three physiological needs. Then comes our basic need for shelter and sleep. Physiological needs are also our instinctual needs, like our needs for sex and warmth. We seek out our physiological needs before anything else because without them we cannot survive.

Our behaviors are all guided somewhat by our instincts for our survival. So if we aren't getting our physiological needs, none of our other needs can be met either. In fact, if our physiological needs cannot be met, then our body cannot function properly. Physiological needs are on the bottom of the hierarchy of needs, but they are the most important. They need to be met first in order for anything else to be met.

2. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: Safety

Next comes our innate need for safety. According to the human needs theory, we cannot move on to other important desires until our need for safety is met. Take for example young children growing up in the ghetto. They hear gunshots, robberies, and violence always within hearing distance. Because they feel unsafe, they are unlikely to be motivated to study hard in school or apply themselves to social groups. They are motivated to stay alive only, and that requires getting out of their neighborhood. If you've wondered why kids in poor project areas aren't getting good grades, it isn't because they aren't intelligent. It's because they aren't having their basic need for safety met.

After our few basic physiological needs are met, then comes safety. Without safety, we cannot have many other needs. Because survival comes first of all, and feeling unsafe all the time leaves a person with not much room for growth. All that person can do is try their best to provide themselves safety. A baby living in an unsafe environment with toxic parents who are always fighting will most likely grow up with major motivational problems.

3. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: Love/Belonging

After our basic needs and safety needs are met comes a need for love and belonging. Since birth we require human touch in order to function properly. Families with a lot of care and nurturing with their children often produce well-rounded adults when grown up. Families who neglect their children often produce children with many problems as adults. Without love or belonging comes low self-esteem and trust issues. It's not necessarily true in all cases, but for the most part love is essential part in our growth as humans. If our need for love is not met then we cannot have confidence with ourselves and thus cannot achieve the things in life we set out to; according to the Maslow motivation theory.

Humans are social animals after all. We travel in packs, and form friendships and relationships that we sometimes make the priority of our lives. It's because our need for love and belonging is so strong that it can trick us into thinking it's more important than our basic needs. But that's only because some of us didn't receive enough love while growing up. We have a desire for intimacy that is so strong that sometimes we sacrifice our own well-being for the happiness of others. But in order to have a chance for self-actualization to be met, your needs must come first.

4. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: Esteem

Most people never reach this level of the hierarchy of needs in their life. Some get close, and some dabble in it occasionally. But in many poor parts of the world, most people do not have a need for self-esteem because they can barely meet their basic needs. After the basic needs and the need for love have been met, we seek social validation and accomplishment in our lives. We have a need to make a name for ourselves and cement our status high on the social ladder. We want to achieve our goals of money, fame, and popularity. We are social creatures, and we crave recognition for our accomplishments as well as criticism for our failures. Our esteem also needs failures in order to improve ourselves and help us grow.

People with fragile egos often cannot handle criticism, thus pointing to their lack of basic needs being met. After all, without a feeling of love and acceptance than we can never truly be confident people. All humans are connected with each other. The Maslow theories of motivation say that we require the feeling of belonging in at least one social group in order to advance to this stage.

5. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Actualization

Self-actualization is the highest level of the Maslow hierarchy, and is the definition of a truly mature individual. Someone who is self-actualized, has their basic needs met and their self-esteem level is more advanced than most. They understand themselves and their potential, and they don't let other people's judgments hold them back from doing and saying what they want. Self-actualized people work alongside people for their own betterment; never against other people.

Self-actualization is a rare learned trait, and is impossible to measure. The reason why is because self-actualization can carry many traits. The traits of a mature and confident individual are one. But no one self-actualized person is comparable to another. There are different levels of self-actualization that are evident in people when you communicate with them. They are of all different ages, genders, and socio-cultural backgrounds.

By Kacia Nall

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