Day 45: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The sun may be shining outside, but today it’s just convenient light for my endeavors. Forget shaving – nothing more than bladed procrastination. Every space of my usually unused desk is filled with words and subjects that normally I’d discard for…pretty much anything else. And today I care. Honestly.

It’s assignment day.

One of the hardest aspects of doing a part-time degree is that every second of this part of my time comes out of my days off from work. I want to relax, but I want to pass this course more. It’s an odd sort of motivation – the kind where you want to reach your destination but resent every inch of the journey to get there. I hate assignments. So very much. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not motivated to do this assignment because there are other things that I’m more motivated to do.

Ironically, part of what I’m writing my assignment on is motivation. In 1943, a man called Abraham Maslow came up with a theory which he called his ‘Hierarchy of Needs‘. It looks like this:

Maslow’s theory is that motivation is based on psychological need. We feel the tension when our needs are not met and want to correct it. He believed that we are all motivated by the same things but that there are different levels of need:

Physiological needs – these are our basic requirements for survival.

The need for Safety – the need for physical, financial and emotional stability in our lives.

Social needs – if we are able to survive and have fulfilled our need for safety, we then need to fulfill our need for interpersonal relationships. Our need for friends and family is here.

The need for Esteem – we need to feel like we belong to something. We need to feel respected and we need to have self-esteem.

Self-Actualisation – this need is about realising what your full potential is and reaching your full potential and the desire for more. This cannot be satisfied in the way that other needs can.

(I would argue that we also have a need for God in our lives, but for the purposes of this blog post, I’m not going to go there.)

I think this explains why I don’t feel motivated to work today. I’ve fulfilled my physiological needs along with my need for safety, but being locked away in my room severely inhibits my social needs. However, my need for esteem, coupled with the knowledge that there will come a time where that need will be fulfilled is enough that I can postpone my social needs until later. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs relates to much more than a one off assignment, but it’s an example that works nonetheless.

Are there any examples of this in your own life? I’d love to hear what you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you’ve read this post, I’d really appreciate you taking the time to respond!

Don’t leave me hanging!


7 thoughts on “Day 45: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

  1. Hello Dave! Nice to meet you in the blogosphere. Really interesting post – I haven’t ever studied psychology so don’t know a lot of these theories.

    Generally, I don’t think I agree with Maslow’s categorisation of needs into such separate and defined sections. I would say it’s also open to debate the different hierarchies of necessity and which are more important. Do you think it’s possible to fulfil social needs without having fulfilled physiological needs, for example? Like you, I think above all of these there is the ultimate need for God in each of us – and even if all other things are there, there is still an inner hunger for something much bigger and greater that nothing else can satisfy. I’ve always really liked this C.S Lewis’ quote because it sums it all up for me: “If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world”.

    And big respect to you for blogging daily….I don’t know how you do it!

    1. Hey Rosie! We have an awful lot of mutual friends and your name is familiar – have we met before?? If not, nice to meet you on the blogosphere too!

      I think it’s open to questions, although I’d argue that a certain level of physiological needs must be attained before social needs – even if we don’t have a source of income, we still depend on a source of food in order to survive and that will always be prioritised before social needs, except in the most extreme cases. I think the question is more about the degree in which each level must be achieved before moving on to the next and whether you can increase simultaneously in multiple levels. I certainly think it’s open to scrutiny though. Thank you for raising these questions!

      That quote is brilliant – I’ve never seen it written but I’m pretty sure Brooke Fraser put it in a song didn’t she? It was named after C.S Lewis I think!

      As for blogging every day, it’s not easy!! I’m getting significantly less sleep trying to think of things to write about!! Thanks for commenting!

      1. Hi, yes maybe we have met…possible at Ben and Heather’s wedding? I was one of the bridesmaids. I’ve also been to Kerith a few times before so possibly got introduced at some point!

        Yep Brooke Fraser put his quote in that song…I think that’s how I originally discovered the quote actually, from that album! I’d really recommend reading some of his stuff if you haven’t already – he’s an incredible writer. Mere Christianity is a particular favourite of mine.

  2. Maybe that was it! I played guitar for their wedding. It was fantastic!

    Interesting, someone recommended Mere Christianity to me about four hours ago. Maybe that’s a sign that I should read it!

  3. I think the hierarchy levels are demonstrated clearly when one suffers a crisis or trauma. Everything comes crashing down and to cope or survive you cocoon yourself by returning to the basics of life – living in the moment of waking, eating, walking, eating, and the comfort and security of a warm bed at night. Gradually as the pain eases you can move on to your physical, financial and emotional stability; then hopefully your social needs and regaining your self esteem. But in the beginning, in the midst of a crisis, breathing is your number one priority. It means you are alive.

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