In my layman’s view, the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs reveals a deeply unconscious goal of Self Actualisation that can be brought to the surface and then used to guide and motivate us throughout the passage of our lives.
I believe it is fundamentally important for us to know where we are on this ‘needs pyramid’. This is to more easily progress our lives toward the ultimate freedom, opened up, in self-actualization and then more fully found in self transcendence.
1) At the base of the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs are the Physiological Needs.
In the Physiological Needs we must to be able to breath freely, have access to food and water, have shelter from the elements, have clothing, have sex, and be able to sleep. Homeostasis takes hold here which means we want everything to remain stable and be relatively constant.
2) Once our physiological needs are met we move on up to satisfying the Safety Needs.
At this level we seek to maintain a safe, predictable orderly and organized life that we can rely on. We are in avoidance of anything unexpected, anything more than we can easily manage, and certainly nothing dangerous. Here we find the basic physical safety needs for our body, employment, health and home.
3) So we are feeling safe, now we unconsciously strive to meet the Love and Belonging Needs.
At this level a desire for a sense of connection becomes stronger. We seek affection and appreciation within our family and friends. We will now look for a place in our tribe/group/gang. Love and intimacy is now important in sex (where it was not at the basic physiological level).
4) Feeling love and appreciation within friends and family we are now able to progress to the next level. The Esteem Needs.
Now we not only have a need for self-respect and self-esteem, we also desire the stable and firm respect of others in the bigger world. This is the first real stage where independence and freedom are becoming important. We need to have our achievements acknowledged by ourselves and by others, so that we feel strong and valued in the world. Thwarting our feelings of esteem, worth, confidence, adequacy, and usefulness at this level can produce states of depression and feelings of helplessness. Luckily there are plenty of personal development strategies available today to firmly embed esteem into our subconscious.
5) When feel of value in the world by ourselves, and by others, we may begin the transition to Self-Actualization.
This is the level of being fully human, being your true self. “Even if all [the lower] needs are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what [one] is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if [one] is to be ultimately happy. What [one] can be, [one] must be. This need we may call self-actualization”. – Maslow, Abraham H. A Theory of Human Motivation [my edits]
6) Unfortunately, the majority of people get stuck striving in the lower needs and never get to realize a life of true purpose and meaning. In writing the Way of Personal Development I hope to help you over that line and, all being well, and even further to experience oneness with the greater whole and to ultimately realize your higher truth in Self-Transcendence.
Here lays the desire to go beyond our ordinary human level of consciousness and experience oneness with the greater whole, the higher truth, whatever that may be. This can lead to peak experiences of mystical, spiritual, and ecstatic moments with illuminations or insights or cognitions which change our view of the world and of ourselves.
If you are researching the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs you will most likely only find the first five levels talked about. That was his earlier model circa 1943 but the more accurate model, taking into account his later work shows all six levels of the hierarchy. In 1969 Maslow planned to produce a new book encompassing all of his newer works. By 1970 he had selected his articles from which to author the new book but in June of that year suffered a fatal heart attack. Those articles now comprise the chapters of a book first published in 1971 titled The Farther Reaches of Human Nature by A.H. Maslow.
Utopia Changes at each level.
“Another peculiar characteristic of the human organism when it is dominated by a certain need is that the whole philosophy of the future tends also to change. For our chronically and extremely hungry man, Utopia can be defined very simply as a place where there is plenty of food. He tends to think that, if only he is guaranteed food for the rest of his life, he will be perfectly happy and will never want anything more. Life itself tends to be defined in terms of eating. Anything else will be defined as unimportant. Freedom, love, community feeling, respect, philosophy, may all be waved aside as fripperies which are useless since they fail to fill the stomach.” – Maslow, Abraham H. A Theory of Human Motivation . Kindle Edition.
Because, deep down in our subconscious, our behaviors are directed by unsatisfied needs, only once fulfilled do we subconsciously begin to strive higher in the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. So, let's say that you attend a motivating personal development seminar and have all sorts of awesome goals presented to you, if those goals are aligned to your esteem needs (level four) but you are still striving to satisfy your basic safety needs (level two) you will never know why you just can’t get yourself to stretch out of your comfort zone and go-get-em!
I have noticed this play out so often in the Network Marketing industry where I have enjoyed significant success. (Network Marketing or MLM is an industry where one builds large teams of direct sales people so that one receives ongoing residual commissions on the sales volumes of many levels of your team’s recruitment). Unless you are either ‘genuinely at’ a high level in the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs OR you are able to ‘Trick The Brain’ at your subconscious level, to feel as if your basic needs levels are already met, you just do really find your way to those lofty goals.