As I was re-reading my previous post about boosting self-confidence, I started contemplating the different sets of human needs (physical and mental) to reach maximum self-fulfillment. I also recently stumbled upon the five levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy, and reflected upon my own relationships, personal situation and how I’ve lapsed in specific areas thus far.
The basis of Maslow’s Hierarchy is that there are five levels to self fulfillment. It is theorised that satisfaction must be met at the base level, in order to progress through to the proceeding ones, ultimately reaching self-actualisation. I won’t go into extensive detail, as there are many sources out there that explain the tiers better than I could, so check out this article from Simply Psychology for a breakdown.
I think it’s crucial to revisit this hierarchy every so often because it’s a broad net which captures all aspects of your life. This depiction of our physical and emotional needs is a great way to visually evaluate what’s wrong with our current situation. At this moment in time, work has gone quiet for me. I’ve been scrambling more hours, and it’s put me in massive financial strain.
With all this worry over money, I haven’t been able to work on myself, and ultimately my anxiety has heightened. Consequently, this constant concern and my vocal worrying has made me a not-so-fun person to be around lately, causing me stress in my relationships.
I think a lot of people try to tackle mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, whilst forgetting to address the most basic instincts of human necessity.
After retreating to my thoughts and personal experience, I’ve arrived at the following model, a modern revision of Maslow’s Hierarchy. This revised model is a depiction of the needs for an average person living in a first or second world country, with the assumption of access to clean drinking water, an safety from war zones.
When I talk about having nutritious food, I mainly emphasise the point of not having junk food like take out and fast food chains. I think a lot of us cave into unhealthy options for convenience and low prices, without thinking of the long term effects. Changing your diet is a simple yet unexpected way to help brighten your mood.
Financial stability is a no-brainer, and it’s mentioned in the original hierarchy, but to elaborate, I think it’s worth mentioning that living paycheck-to-paycheck is not being financially stable. Simply having an income does not equate to financial stability, and I think it’s an important note to make because of how dire your situation can become.
If you’re reading this, then the chances of you living in a war-torn country are highly unlikely. However, I think a large factor that comes into play with safety needs is crime density within a particular neighbourhood. It sucks, and I know a lot of the times, it’s too hard to relocate. Despite this, I think it’s increasingly difficult to improve upon yourself if you’re constantly a victim of break-ins etc.
I specifically mention a clean and sanitary environment under living conditions. In this case I’m talking about living in vacuumed, mopped house. I think one of the biggest things we neglect, as a person of the modern civilisation, is keeping the environment around us clean. That means cleaning your bedroom, washing your bed sheets regularly, and making sure your trash isn’t attracting flies. How can we expect to work on our anxiety, and depression when we can’t even make a simple change in our surroundings?
Love and Belonging
For the most part, this part of think Maslow’s Hierarchy is untouched and remains the same. I did want to add however, the people living under the same roof as you. This could be family, but many are living amongst housemates. Sometimes these people you share a space with are toxic, and have problems of their own – a damaging blow to morale. This is a precarious situation to find yourself in and it’s definitely one which you should avoid or remove yourself from if possible.
I think this one needs no detailing. There are many factors which come into play with self-esteem, such as peer validation, respect from society, and sense of accomplishment. What matters is the idea of exploring a goal you are consistently working towards, and not allowing life’s excuses to deter you, or kick you off-course.
This one is tough to really fully understand. I’d imagine self-actualisation, and transcendence is coming to terms with your life’s work – being fulfilled in your journey, and sense of self. When I think about self-actualisation I think about leaving behind a legacy, having left an imprint behind on this earth that will remain long after you have passed.
I’ve always been fascinated by Maslow’s Hierarchy, and examined my life though these levels of self satisfaction. I’ve always thought that the first few levels were a given because of the time and place of where I live, but upon further reflection I think the 21st century has definitely shifted our base needs where many of us forget to improve. In essence, I don’t think we should answer big questions about ourselves, and try to solve complex mental issues, without first addressing these basic foundations on which our lives are built on.