New issue each Monday
Issue 14,  July 20, 2009     —      Peter Shepherd, The Hierarchy of Needs

In this issue:   FEATURE: Jon Berghoff, Influencing Others   Sharon Elaine, Affirmations for Career Challenges   Peter Shepherd, The Hierarchy of Needs   Hazel C. Palaché, The Power of Writing   Guy Finley, Choose to Remember the Light   Gabriella Kortsch, Are You in Alignment with the Real You?   Wider Screenings   Events   Reviews   Earlier issues   Submit Article



Before any progress is possible on a path of personal development, motivation must be established. Abraham Maslow identified a range of motivation which he rated on an ascending scale:

1. Physiological needs


The needs for oxygen, food, water and a relatively constant body temperature. These needs are the strongest because if deprived, the person would die.

2. Safety and security needs


Children often display signs of insecurity and their need to be safe. Adults, too, need the security of a home and means of income, and often have an underlying fear that these may be lost, e.g. in war or times of social unrest, or due to misfortune. Fear is the opposite flow to need. Accompanying any need for something is an equivalent fear of losing or not obtaining it.

3. Social needs


This includes the need for mastery to be able to get one’s own way, to establish some control over one’s situation and environment, to express some degree of personal power, to be able to communicate and obtain objectives. And the need for love, affection and belonging. People need to escape feelings of loneliness and alienation and to give (and receive) love and affection, and to have a sense of belonging with high quality communication (with understanding and empathy).

4. Esteem needs


People need to feel good about themselves, to feel that they have earned the respect of others, in order to feel satisfied, self confident and valuable. If these needs are not met, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.

5. Self-Actualization Needs


This is our need to develop to our full potential, to be creative, to feel we are contributing something worthwhile, to be one’s true self, to know the truth, to feel ecstasy. It is about fulfilling one’s purposes in life, a full expression of our creative potential. It is to be autonomous and fully-functioning. If these needs are not met, a person feels restless and frustrated, even if successful in other respects.

One reason that a person does not move through the needs to self-actualization is because of the hindrances placed in their way by society. For example, education can act to inhibit a person’s potential (though also of course it can promote personal growth). So can other aspects of the family and culture act to condition and funnel an individual into a role that is not fulfilling. To escape this conditioning, a person has to awaken to their situation, to realize that their life could be different, that there are changes that can be made in the direction of self-actualization.

To promote our personal growth, we can learn to be authentic, to be aware of our inner selves and to hear our inner feelings and needs. We can begin to transcend our own cultural conditioning and become world citizens. We can help our children discover their talents and creative skills, to find the appropriate career and complementary partner. We can demonstrate that life is precious, that there is joy to be experienced in life, and that if one is open to seeing the good - and humorous - in all kinds of situations, this makes life worth living.

There is one further need that Maslow didn’t mention. Though he probably intended it to be included as a self-actualization need, really it deserves its own category. This is...

6. The need for a higher truth


This is the need to make contact with the creative force that is beyond the human personality, to make sense of all the suffering and injustices of the survival struggle on earth. This need has been evident in all cultures, expressed by all religions, and is the spiritual path towards enlightenment, towards knowing God, towards discovering the truth of All That Is.

It is only by having at least a glimmer of this spirituality that we each are part of, that we can aspire to the highest potential of being human. To be able to genuinely love and to forgive unconditionally, we need to see in all others - even our enemies - the same essential quality that we ourselves are part of. Spirituality is a transpersonal quality, it is beyond the Ego and obsession with the self. It is the maturity of intuition.

The path of personal transformation is primarily a process of becoming aware of, facing up to and taking responsibility for one’s thoughts, feelings and actions, and then expanding this self-realization by communicating with others, retaining integrity whatever the response, and further enhancing the quality of communication with ever-increasing empathy and understanding. Through understanding others better, we can recognize their essential goodwill, however misguided it might have become, and begin to recognize the spirituality of humankind.   ###
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