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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Full guide!

As a species, we humans have different needs that must be met to achieve stability & success in our lives. However, when these needs aren’t met, it leads to many issues that undermine our survival and stability. In fact, our quality of life is impacted depending on whether we attend to our needs properly or not! And this is what Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests!

In other words, Maslow’s hierarchy claims that a set of psychological needs determines our decision-making, motivation, and life quality. But, what are these needs really?

In this article, we will answer the above question… and give you a good idea about why Maslow’s hierarchy is important.

Let’s dive in!

Defining Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

A little bit of history

As the name suggests! This concept was developed by an American psychologist named Abraham Maslow. In his 1943  paper, A Theory of Human Motivation, Maslow introduced the concept for the first time. However, In a later book published in 1954, he walked a step further and proposed 5 essential needs. Each need forms one aspect of the 5  psychological hierarchy of needs.

What is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

A chart abou maslow's hierarchy of needs

In a nutshell, this concept suggests that our behavior & motivation are largely shaped by a hierarchy of needs… which consists of five core psychological needs. 

  • Physiological needs
  • Safety needs
  • Love & belonging needs
  • Esteem needs
  • Self-actualization needs

And because they form a hierarchy, Maslow presents them within a pyramid of 5 levels. Accordingly, each level contains one of the five needs depending on its importance. That’s why we have lower needs VS higher needs.

Lower needs VS higher needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be divided into two categories: Lower needs VS higher needs. But before explaining each one in detail! I have to say that the hierarchy isn’t even because we have 3 lower needs and 2 higher needs.

Lower needs

Below, you will find a list of the lower needs on Maslow’s pyramid! Each need will be explained in detail.

Physiological needs

Physiological needs are Id-driven needs that form our basic human necessities for survival. They include food, shelter, clothing, rest, health, and reproduction. Accordingly, Maslow argues that if these basic necessities aren’t met, we can’t fulfill the next needs on the hierarchy. 

It makes sense! No one would achieve self-fulfillment if they were still struggling to meet their basic needs.

Safety needs

Safety needs are about protection from potential danger, violence, and life-threatening incidents. They also include aspects of health & well-being, emotional stability, and financial security.

Love & belonging needs

Love and belonging needs are about our need for human interaction, love, and intimacy. They are also about our need to belong and forge social bonds with others. And because we’re social beings, it is important for us to connect socially and emotionally with others. This provides us with a sense of support, love, and acceptance in our social circle.

Examples of love & belonging needs include our personal and professional relationships! Like our bonds with our parents, friends, family, and co-workers. Or our intimate & sexual relationships with our partners. 

In truth, love and belonging needs stem from the way we evolved as a species. In the early stages of our existence, we learned that we have a better chance of survival within groups & communities. contrastingly, being alone meant death and the inability to survive. That’s why loneliness hurts, and the pain we experience urges us to belong… and seek social acceptance and intimacy.

Higher needs

Here are the higher needs, and how they differ from lower needs.

Self-esteem needs

When it comes to higher needs, esteem needs occupy the second-highest position on the pyramid. And they’re ego-driven needs that revolve around self-respect, dignity, and self-worth. Self-esteem needs are also about your confidence in your skills and potential growth as a person.

However, self-esteem itself can be divided into two categories:

There is esteem that stems from others’ acknowledgment and validation. On the other hand, there is esteem that stems from assessing yourself. And the latter is more important! In fact, Maslow himself suggests that esteem that is based on self-assessment is crucial to achieving self-confidence & independence.

This means that your self-esteem is related to how you view and assess yourself! And it is not about what others think of you! This is refreshing & liberating at the same time. That’s because it suggests that self-confidence is a personal development! And you can attain it by assessing yourself and not based on others’ views.

Self-actualization needs

Self-actualization stands at the top of Maslow’s pyramid. And they refer to the fulfillment and realization of our maximum potential. However, you should understand that in order to reach self-actualization, all your other needs must be met.

For instance, you can’t be self-actualized, if your basic needs aren’t covered. Think of self-actualization as the last stage of your development. It is the final metamorphosis where you become the best possible version of yourself.

In other words, self-actualization marks the peak of your psychological development. And this influences all areas of your life professionally and personally.

Growth needs VS deficiency needs

Maslow also categorized the 5 core needs into two types; growth and deficiency. 

Deficiency needs

  • Physiological needs 
  • safety needs
  • love and belonging needs
  • self-esteem needs

Growth needs 

When it comes to growth needs we’ve only got self-actualization! But why?

Well, Maslow made this distinction to explain the impact that needs have on the quality of our life. For example, if your deficiency needs aren’t met, you will suffer negative and destructive consequences… that undermine your life quality. 

That’s because the lack of deficiency needs threatens your basic survival. Let’s say you lack food, safety, social bonding, and emotional stability! It is obvious that you wouldn’t survive unless you attend to these needs. They’re important because, without them, the possibility of a stable life is out of reach! As a result, the possibility of self-fulfillment and development is also out of reach!

This brings us back to the only growth need on Maslow’s pyramid; self-actualization. You see! Maslow argues that deficiency needs must be met to achieve stability in your life. However, self-actualization isn’t as necessary to survive and have a good life. 

Simply put, self-actualization is the golden reward that’s earned after all your other needs are met. It is the peak of your personal fulfillment and development. That’s why it is called a growth need! It characterizes your need for growth and fulfilling your potential.

Our take on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is all about balance! To succeed in life in general you need to have stability! The catch here is that in order to attain balance we need to fulfill our needs. That’s because our motivation and behavior are shaped by them.

At the end of the day! You cannot reach the top of the pyramid, yet you’re still stuck in the lower stages! I hate to say it! But how can you start a business, yet you’re struggling to pay the bills & keep a roof over your head?

However, this doesn’t mean that we cannot reach the top! Because Maslow’s hierarchy is also about acknowledging that we are human beings with needs that must be met! It teaches us that we are vulnerable, yet we’re deserving of care and a decent life.

We can even consider Maslow’s needs as basic human rights that everyone should enjoy. This way we can all have a chance to live to the fullest.

Final thoughts

We hope that this article has answered your questions! And provided valuable insights about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs! Please if you have any additions or ideas of your own, comment below! 

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