Time to cook up another psychological sacred cow.
Depending on how you were raised, you either consider your needs as a good thing or a weakness. Too often we feel they are a constant reminder of being “human.” If you grew up having your needs ignored, it is likely you ignore them as an adult. I have met few people that like the word “need,” and yet, everyone wants to be satisfied. We talk about having a satisfying marriage, a satisfying career, or a satisfying meal. Satisfaction is a basic need of body, soul, and spirit and yet we don’t like needs. See the problem here?
It is time to see that our needs speak to necessity, not weakness. In Greek, chreia means to need or to want what is required for a journey. We are on a wholeness journey of discovering how precious and powerful life can be, my friend, and there are things that are necessary for our joyful trip.
When it comes to needs, the old Vacation movie series starring Chevy Chase is a great example of what not to do. Clark Griswold had no clue what he or his family needed. We laugh at his cluelessness, but in real life unmet needs hurt. The flipside of bumbling along like the Griswolds is understanding what you need, so you can put yourself in the powerful position of living satisfied. It’s similar to the surge of freedom that young adults feel when they first leave home, the “I can do this” joy. Over time though, the pecking order of life strains joy out of us until we’re convinced that we don’t know how to make good decisions for ourselves.
I know, I was there —no confidence in myself because I did not trust my own heart. Pursuing my healing my body, soul, and spirit helped me build that trust. It is possible to revive your confidence and autonomy no matter how damaged you are. The best part of a wholeness reboot is that you get to upgrade the motivation of your life from negative reinforcement to loving yourself. Let’s look at motivation and needs a little more closely.
In 1943, psychologist Abraham H. Maslow set out to discover what motivates people. He proposed our needs drive us in what he called the “Hierarchy of Needs.” In his theory, he stated that people are driven to gradually satisfy their needs from the “basic” to “self-actualized.” He illustrated his ideas as a pyramid with our base needs of food, water, shelter, and safety at the bottom and the higher needs of beauty and self-actualization at the top. Where I agree with him that our needs do motivate us, I do not agree that they exist in a hierarchy. All of our needs are equally important as we have three parts that are equally precious. When the whole is priceless, you cannot pull out a piece and say it is not as valuable as the rest. Organizing our needs by perceived value makes us demean some and elevate others. This is exactly what happened with the revised Maslow chart. Needs like esteem, belonging, safety, and physical needs are now labeled as “deficiency needs.” Beauty, self-actualization, and transcendence are now called “growth needs.”
The problem is this hierarchy, like all hierarchies, says the items at the top are more valuable and those at the bottom are primitive. We move societal resources and acclaim to the more valuable needs and shame those who still have “basic” needs. It’s why sleep and rest are considered weaknesses and killing yourself for the cause is considered noble. Just when someone thinks he has reached the peak of the pyramid, his wife says she is divorcing him because all he does is work. S. A. McLeod, writing about the hierarchy of needs put it this way, “Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization. Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs. Life experiences, including divorce and loss of job may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of the hierarchy.”
As long as we see the fulfillment of our needs as levels, we are destined to frustration, exhaustion, and guilt. There is no such thing as a lower level need.” It’s craziness!
Our structure of priceless body, soul, and spirit means that all our needs are equally important and need attention. It is just as significant to eat a meal and enjoy someone’s company as it is to sit on a mountain and speak with God. It is just as key to have your hard work celebrated by others, than it is to develop your brain. We are not going to evolve past pricelessness. That is the pinnacle. We have already arrived. We live from wholeness, the best place. From this position we may choose to deny some of our needs out of love, not duty, to help others see their priceless value. And after we are done sacrificing for them, we can sit down and enjoy a big ole steak dinner and a glass of red wine, guilt free, because we have needs too.
Are you getting it? Your needs are not stepping stones that move you to transcendence. They are genuine facets of you that you have the joy of fulfilling over and over.
If you enjoyed today's blog, you'll love How to Build a Big Unbreakable Life: An Invitation to Wholeness. This was an excerpt from the chapter called "Our Hunger." Keep the hope and joy going by reading the rest of the book.
That's all for this week.
Remember you are priceless & powerful,
Wholeness Living Thought Leader
Wholeness Living Thought Leader
- Strongs Green Hebrew Lexicon
- McLeod, S. A., 2016, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html