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Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who developed the revolutionary ‘hierarchy of needs’ to explain human motivation. Maslow’s theory is pivotal in helping live a more fulfilling life.

The hierarchy of needs are:

  1. Physiological needs- satisfying our innate and physical needs
  2. Safety needs- satisfying needs of safety including physical and emotional security
  3. Belonging- satisfying social needs such family, friendship, belonging and acceptance
  4. Self-esteem- satisfying needs of the ego like status such as respect and recognition
  5. Self actualisation- achieving potential ability and purpose

The theory is we all have certain needs in order to live a more fulfilling life. The basic needs are at the bottom which we need to fulfill before we move up the hierarchy to reach the top to self-actualisation.

Maslow was part of the humanistic school of Psychology and believed that we are all wanting species. So, these needs were a way for an individual to be striving towards something.

Each need would differ for each individual. For instance, in an impoverished country the basic physiological need for food, water, warmth and rest would be more important than psychological need of love and belongingness.

Motivation is therefore crucial in Maslow’s needs as this reinforces one’s desire grow as a person and work toward self-actualisation.


What is self-actualisation?

Maslow described self actualisation as a desire for self-fulfilment. It was based on the idea for a person to become what he/she could potentially be.

Self actualisation varies from person to person. In one individual it could be a desire to be the best athletically, in another it may be expressed in painting picture.

Self-actualisation does not equate to perfectionism, far from it. It is way for individuals to literate themselves of fears, self-doubt/criticism and instead focus on the here and now and creativity.


How do we move up the hierarchy of needs?

Maslow believe that within us all there was an inner nature and encouragement to bring this out was key in order to aspire individuals to grow, be healthy and happy.

Sometimes when you feel like you are stuck on pause it can be difficult to find that self-encouragement. This is where therapy can be beneficial because it allows you to see your strengths again and find the encouragement you need to move on up.

One of the reasons why I am so fond of Maslow’s theory is because he focuses on focuses on growth and human potential.

The hierarchy of needs encourage individuals to become what they could be.


How can you use the hierarchy of needs in your life?

The great thing about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is that he has it all written down for you in a pyramid.

Simple changes in day to day functioning could assist in moving on up in the hierarchy such as:

  • Learning something new
  • Getting out of your comfort zone to help shake unwarranted fears
  • Building relationships with loved ones
  • Participating in events to feel a sense of belonging

As motivation increases it will enable you to focus on your strengths generating a more positive attitude.


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