If we turn Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid upside down we could imagine our self-actualization, – to becoming who we like to be and doing what we like to do, – as opening up to our creative evolution, – to our consciousness, – to our connectedness, – and to our appreciation for the experience of life, – moving us from the idea of self-actualization as the arrival point in our heroic journey, to the idea of knowing who we are, knowing what we care about, – what our interests are, – as a turning point in our creative journey in pursuit of our experience of joy, – of appreciation, – and of creative contribution. And moving from the idea of the heroic journey to the idea of the creative journey.
From consciousness of self, to consciousness of our experience of life, to consciousness of our connectedness, to conscious appreciation for our experience of life and of our ability to create our experience, to create with our experience, and to contribute to creating our experience as a community.
Our conscious appreciative observation, exploration, and consideration of our experience for ideas and enterprise that could contribute to our interests is a creative experience and a creative enterprise, and contributes to our creative journey and our story. Where are we. We are always at our departure point in our creative journey exploring and pursuing ideas and opportunities that contribute to improving our appreciation of our experience of life.
Our evolution, our learning, and our creative enterprise is not linear. We can however accelerate our learning, our ability to create, and our creative evolution by being conscious of our creative interests as our context for the ideas and opportunities we have available at we continue to satisfy and improve our ability to satisfy our fundamental needs in response to our experience. I will pass up an opportunity to explore a new experience if I am feeling anxious to satisfy my hunger for food.
We have a forever expanding opportunity to increase our consciousness, our connectedness, and our appreciation of our creative imagination, our possibilities, our creative enterprise, and our creative experience.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid, with the largest and most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom and the need for self-actualization at the top.
The most fundamental and basic four layers of the pyramid contain what Maslow called “deficiency needs” or “d-needs”: esteem , friendship and love, security, and physical needs. With the exception of the most fundamental (physiological) needs, if these “deficiency needs” are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the individual feels anxious and tense. Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.
Maslow also coined the term Metamotivation to describe the motivation of people who go beyond the scope of the basic needs and strive for constant betterment. Metamotivated people are driven by being needs instead of deficiency needs.
For the most part, physiological needs are obvious — they are the literal requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body simply cannot continue to function.
Air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for survival in all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the elements. The intensity of the human sexual instinct is shaped more by sexual competition than maintaining a birth rate adequate to survival of the species.
With their physical needs relatively satisfied, the individual’s safety needs take precedence and dominate behavior. In the absence of physical safety — due to terrorist attack, war, natural disaster, or, in cases of family violence, childhood abuse, etc — people (re-)experience post-traumatic stress disorder and trans-generational trauma transfer. In the absence of economic safety — due to economic crisis and lack of work opportunities – these safety needs manifest themselves in such things as a preference for job security, grievance procedures for protecting the individual from unilateral authority, savings accounts, insurance policies, reasonable disability accommodations, and the like.
Safety and Security needs include:
Health and well-being
Safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts
Love and belonging
After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third layer of human needs are social and involve feelings of belongingness. The need is especially strong in childhood and can over-ride the need for safety as witnessed in children who cling to abusive parents which is sometimes called Stockholm syndrome. The absence of this aspect of Maslow’s hierarchy – due to hospitalism, neglect, shunning, ostracism etc – can impact individual’s ability to form and maintain emotionally significant relationships in general, such as:
Humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance, whether it comes from a large social group, such as clubs, office culture, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, gangs, or small social connections (family members, intimate partners, mentors, close colleagues, confidants). They need to love and be loved (sexually and non-sexually) by others. In the absence of these elements, many people become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression. This need for belonging can often overcome the physiological and security needs, depending on the strength of the peer pressure; an anorexic, for example, may ignore the need to eat and the security of health for a feeling of control and belonging.
All humans have a need to be respected and to have self-esteem and self-respect. Esteem presents the normal human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People need to engage themselves to gain recognition and have an activity or activities that give the person a sense of contribution, to feel self-valued, be it in a profession or hobby. Imbalances at this level can result in low self-esteem or an inferiority complex. People with low self-esteem need respect from others. They may seek fame or glory, which again depends on others. Note, however, that many people with low self-esteem will not be able to improve their view of themselves simply by receiving fame, respect, and glory externally, but must first accept themselves internally. Psychological imbalances such as depression can also prevent one from obtaining self-esteem on both levels.
Most people have a need for a stable self-respect and self-esteem. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. The higher one is the need for self-respect, the need for strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence and freedom. The latter one ranks higher because it rests more on inner competence won through experience. Deprivation of these needs can lead to an inferiority complex, weakness and helplessness.
Maslow also states that even though these are examples of how the quest for knowledge is separate from basic needs he warns that these “two hierarchies are interrelated rather than sharply separated” (Maslow 97). This means that this level of need, as well as the next and highest level, are not strict, separate levels but closely related to others, and this is possibly the reason that these two levels of need are left out of most textbooks.
Main article: Self-actualization
“What a man can be, he must be.” This forms the basis of the perceived need for self-actualization. This level of need pertains to what a person’s full potential is and realizing that potential. Maslow describes this desire as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming. This is a broad definition of the need for self-actualization, but when applied to individuals the need is specific. For example one individual may have the strong desire to become an ideal parent, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in another it may be expressed in painting, pictures, or inventions. As mentioned before, in order to reach a clear understanding of this level of need one must first not only achieve the previous needs, physiological, safety, love, and esteem, but master these needs.
Viktor Frankl later added Self-transcendence