I first learned about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs at the University of Akron as an undergrad. I didn't realize how supremely important this concept was until after I retired from education. Had I internalized it, i could've affected some real change at the school.
The main tenet of the Hierarchy is that your basic needs need to be addressed; if one of your basic needs isn't met - air, food, sleep, sex - you won't be able to move on to the next level in the hierarchy. Put simply, if you are worried about your next meal, you're not going to be able to focus on a higher need like career goals.
1. Physiological needs: The lower needs on Maslow's hierarchy are physiological needs. These most basic human survival needs include food and water, sufficient rest (I stress the word sufficient), clothing and shelter, overall health, and reproduction. Maslow states that these basic physiological needs must be addressed before humans move on to the next level of fulfillment.
2. Safety needs: Next among the lower-level needs is safety. Safety needs include protection from violence and theft, emotional stability and well-being, health security, and financial security. Safety in a relationship is a very underrated concept. You need to be physically and emotionally safe to level up. If your relationship doesn't provide safety, you need to leave.
3. Love and belonging needs: The social needs on the third level of Maslow’s hierarchy relate to human interaction and are the last of the lower needs. Among these needs are friendships and family relationships —both with biological family (parents, siblings, children) and chosen family (spouses and partners). Physical and emotional intimacy ranging from sexual relationships to intimate emotional bonds are important to achieving a feeling of elevated kinship. Belonging to social groups contributes to meeting this need, from a bowling team to a bar.
4. Esteem needs: The higher needs, beginning with esteem, are ego-driven needs. The primary elements of esteem are self-respect (the belief that you are valuable and deserving of dignity, respect, and happiness) and self-esteem (confidence in your potential for personal growth and accomplishments). Maslow notes that self-esteem can be broken into two types: esteem which is based on respect and acknowledgment from others, and esteem which is based on your own self-assessment. Self-confidence and independence stem from this latter type of self-esteem. People are often their own worst critic, so I have them ask themselves, "would 14-year old you be happy with yourself." I also tell them not to listen to criticism from a person they wouldn't take advice from. Those two statements appear to boost self-esteem and self-assessment.
5. Self-actualization needs: Self-actualization describes the fulfillment of your full potential as a person. Self-actualization needs include education, skill development—the refining of talents in areas such as music, athletics, design, cooking, and gardening—caring for others, and broader goals like learning a new language, traveling to new places, and winning awards.
I have been able to self-actualize, because all of my lower needs are met. I don't worry about money even though I currently only have side hustles. I don't worry a husband because I don't have one. I've learned the hard way that 90% of what we worry about never happens.
I have been through therapy and I have gotten sober. I have learned the value of a dollar and the value of self-discipline. In short, I learn from my mistakes; but I also learn from the mistakes of others. I capitalize on my strengths and strengthen my weaknesses. I know the importance of delayed gratification. I have done the work to heal from my past, so it doesn't affect my present. And I believe in the power of positive thinking.
My importantly, when feeling down, I don't look upwards at the mountain left to climb, I look down to see how far I've come. I appreciate the small things in life. I try to find balance. I dream sometimes, but I have my boots on the ground.
I'm only trying to give you, the reader, and hopefully a once or future fan, some tips so you may self-actualize like me. It's a wonderful life. In active addiction I lost everything, but I would lose it all over again to get where I am now. Keep powering through. Keep rallying when life gets you down. You only fail when you stop trying.
Look back at this list of needs. NEEDS - not wants. Needs. What Needs to be addressed? What do you have some control over? What can you change about yourself or your environment to self-actualize? You can't effectively goal set to level up if you don't assess where you are at. You need to know where you came from to get to where you are going.
Now, it's time to level up? Are you ready? Of course you are, or you wouldn't be reading this now.
About the Creator
I am an aspiring writer currently writing a book on the Sober Revolution we are in the midst of, a book about essays that will change the way you think, and a novel about a serial killer. I am also working on a book of poetry.