Abraham Maslow was an influential American Professor and Psychologist. Perhaps his most well-known work was to define the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. This is a theory of psychological health that illustrates how different needs form a foundation and have to be fulfilled for you to have healthy self-esteem, be happy and productive.
The first level, the foundation, are physical needs – food, water, shelter, warmth, etc. if you don’t have enough to eat it’s difficult to focus on anything else. The next level are more security needs such as safety, health and having basic belongings. The third level is concerned with intimacy and a social connection such as friends or family. The fourth level is about the self and includes the need for self-esteem, respect and confidence. Finally the highest level is about self-fulfilment and actualisation. You need to be able to express yourself and use your creativity and passion.
So, basically, you are unlikely to want to work on your new art installation if you don’t know where you are going to sleep tonight or don’t feel respected and valued. Fulfilling these needs are an important part of having a happy and stress free life.
But these principles can also be applied to other areas of your life. For example, all these needs apply to your relationships and your job. If any of these needs are not met this can cause problems. If in a relationship you feel unsafe, repressed or disrespected then the relationship is flawed and unhealthy.
Also, in your work life you need to feel safe, comfortable, have some companionship and be able to express yourself and feel pride in what you do. So, if your workplace is uncomfortable or unsafe this will impact productivity. But the needs are more subtle than the basic ones. You need to have companionship at work – someone to talk to and have lunch or a coffee with. If this is missing you will feel isolated and unhappy. Also, you need to be able to feel you can contribute and be praised and rewarded for doing so. Again, if these needs are unfulfilled you will not be happy in your work.
The first four levels are known as Deficit Needs. This means that if you do not have enough of one of those four needs, you will be driven to get them. And when you do get them, you then feel content, but not motivated. Self-actualization is feeling you are achieving the fullest use of your talents and interests. Basically, the need to become all you can be.
As Anne Mulcahy (Former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation) put it, “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability”.
If you or someone you know is struggling with low mood, depression, anxiety or stress then Hypnotherapy can help. Contact me for more information.