This month I want to talk about a concept that keeps coming up in and around my life. Maybe this concept will help give you a new perspective on yourself, someone you know, or the mental health crisis as a whole. In 1943, Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs for human fulfillment. I find this concept to be extremely helpful, especially when seeing the state of our country and local community here in the valley. This month I’d like to talk about the basic concept of a hierarchy of needs, how the levels affect each other, and finally how does this even apply?
Imagine this hierarchy of needs as our “structure” for our life, which includes a foundation that needs to be established before the building can be erected. At the base of this building is our foundation of basic needs. These basic needs are broken into two categories to include our physiological (food, water, warmth, rest) and safety (security and safety) needs. The next tier is our walls of our structure and is our Psychological needs including intimate relationships, friends, and the feeling of accomplishment. The top of the structure is the roof, which is our Self-fulfillment needs and includes achieving our full potential and creative activities. So what does all of that mean when you see it as a hierarchy?
Just like the foundation of the structure, having our Basic needs met provides stability for everything above. So like the walls support the roof, our Psychological needs support our Self-fulfillment needs. So for example, if you do not know where you are going to get your next meal from or are constantly living in fear in an abusive relationship, everything above can become very unstable. Without our basic needs, it can be very difficult to focus on or address any higher needs. So the same is true for our Self-fulfillment needs when our Psychological needs are unmet. Ultimately, any needs that are unmet will make it somewhere between difficult and near impossible to meet any higher needs until the lower, more basic needs are met. Now how does that apply to the state of everything?
Not having one of these basic needs met, can lead to desperation, depression, feelings of hopelessness. What if you do not know how you are going to have any of your basic needs met, hungry, cold, tired, afraid and living on the streets. We stop listening to the logical side of our brain and become much more in tuned to our animalistic side to find ways to meet these needs. If we were to address those basic needs, then things begin to stabilize again and people begin to find that the next level becomes achievable again. If we want to see our communities growing together, reducing crime, and moving past the systemic failures, then we need to make sure that our basic needs are met as communities locally and globally. As people, if we get lifted together, then we all come out better.