Achievement and Ego-Strength The Fourth Level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need

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It is probably more important now than most times in history to possess a clear understanding of human need. When someone “needs” something, they may take extreme measures to obtain it. In our relatively affluent society, the word need often replaces the more appropriate “want.” Just because I desire something that does not mean I need it. Furthermore, if I reflect on my desires, I may discover I have allowed the advertising industry to convince me that I should desire that thing.

Our actual needs may be well met (clean water and air, safe food, protection from heat, cold, or predators, and relationships that matter) yet we think we “need” something else. But in our community, most certainly, in our nation, many people struggle for adequate food, shelter, and safety. So. when I say, “I need a new computer.” What I probably mean is “my current level of luxury is insufficient, since I know there are faster, fancier computers with more bells and whistles.” There may come a time when my computer stops functioning completely, and my local computer guru cannot repair it. When that happens, as a writer, I might truly say, “I need a new computer.”

Maslow has given us help in the process of deciphering our real needs from our wants often promoted to needs by our lack of clarity. But Maslow does suggest that we have needs other than physical necessities, personal safety, or the relationships that sustain us.

The fourth level in the hierarchy of need is sometimes labeled: achievement. As individuals, we need to have some sense of accomplishment. The question why and I here? Is often answered by pointing to some accomplishment. However, many people remain unconvinced of their worth by looking at others (who have done more) or by comparing actual attainment with the hoped-for ideal.

Another understanding of Maslow’s fourth level is ego-strength. Often when we speak of a person’s ego, we equate it with egotism. An egotist is a person who thinks the universe revolves around them. The most important thing about any action is how it makes them look or feel. To such a person, failure is always someone else’s fault, and they can do no wrong.

Ego-strength, on the other hand, enables us to be strong enough in our self-understanding to accept our mistakes and learn from them. The person with a healthy ego accepts responsibility, even takes part of the blame for problems even when they played only a small role. Such a person also shares the praise for successes and keeps others accountable.

Most people can point to accomplishments as well as places where things did not occur as intended. The person with a strong ego can claim their successes and acknowledge their shortcomings. A healthy self-respect will help us stay focused even in the face of defeat.

What we need to promote for a healthy future is Ego-strength. On the other hand, those with big egos often are very fragile, and drain away a lot of the community’s energy propping up their egos or responding to their inappropriate accusations.

Someone with positive ego strength is well equipped to address the fifth and final of Maslow’s classifications of needs: Self-Actualization.

Everyone Needs to Be “At Home” Somewhere

fullsizeoutput_25The future I begin to describe in The Doorkeeper’s Secrets is based on a culture that meets everyone’s needs. I’ve been suggesting that Maslow’s categorizing of human need into five groups can serve as a foundation for such a future.

In addition to what we need to live as a biological entity, and enough safety to venture into the world, we need to know a bit about who we are. Last time we talked about understanding ourselves by remembering who we are related to: family. This third level has to do with social relationships or as some of us would say – the need to belong somewhere. Continue reading “Everyone Needs to Be “At Home” Somewhere”

How We Choose to Belong Makes a Difference: Belonging (Part 1)

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Desiring to build a more compassionate and cooperative society is a noble goal. Getting there starts with respect. However, respect as an abstract concept may be as empty as cocoon after the butterfly has emerged.

Active respect acknowledges and defends another person’s needs and dignity. We started talking about needs several weeks back. Following Abraham Maslow organization of need into five groupings or levels. Maslow uses a pyramid to display the different levels, with the lowest layers being foundational for those placed on top.

In prior weeks we have lifted up the basic biological needs of food, clothing, shelter, air, water, and rest. We then turned to safety. Recognizing a desire for safety drives the compulsion of many to arm themselves—the results quite often are the opposite. An increased number of guns in our homes, cars, and on our persons makes everyone less safe. However, the motivation is understandable. I’ll have more thoughts about these issues in the weeks ahead.

But for now, we turn to the third of the five levels in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need—Belonging. To belong involves developing social relationships. I want to think about relationships in three different categories: Given, Tribal, and Chosen. Continue reading “How We Choose to Belong Makes a Difference: Belonging (Part 1)”

What are our Basic Needs? (part 2)

fullsizeoutput_25So, what are our human needs and aspirations? If I can separate my true needs, from the multitude of things others ask me to believe are “needs,” then I can make decisions about how to spend my life. Abraham Maslow back in 1949 stated that we have five levels of need. The levels are like a pyramid each one must be at least partially satisfied before we can stack another on top.

The foundation is Basic Needs or Biological Needs. In addition to nutritious food, safe water, and breathable air, we humans have other less obvious physical requirements. Among them is protection from the elements.

Continue reading “What are our Basic Needs? (part 2)”

Remaking our World: Basic Needs (Part 1)

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If we decide to restructure our economy to provide everyone with what they need, before permitting anyone excesses, we will need a shared understanding of “Needs.” Fortunately, Abraham Maslow provides us with a starting place with his Hierarchy of Needs.

Five levels of need organized into a pyramid. The first being the foundational layer of the pyramid: Basic Needs. Red in the chart above.

These are the needs required to exist as a human organism on this planet. Air to breathe, water for drink and bathing, and food to eat. Those are obvious. However, we have found it necessary to pass laws to create standards for clean air, clean water, and safe food.  Continue reading “Remaking our World: Basic Needs (Part 1)”

Providing for Needs

IMG_20180420_115253148If we want to prevent future conflicts over scarce resources, we should begin now to ensure that everyone has what he or she needs—not necessarily everything they want, but what is needed. That’s not a new idea. It’s as old as sacred texts in every faith tradition of the world. Treat others the way we would want to be treated.

That’s all well and good, but one person’s need may be another’s extravagance. What is today’s “luxury” may be “essential” tomorrow—consider cell phones as a recent example. Fortunately, the definition of need is not merely subjective, subject to the whims of the speaker. Continue reading “Providing for Needs”

New Year, New Beginnings, and Life Goals

Every religious tradition, at least the ones I know about, has a day, or season of reflection and renewal. Whether driven by religious principles or not it’s helpful for us to take stock of our behavior periodically. As self-directed individuals, we benefit from reflecting on our accomplishments toward our life goals. We may need to adjust our life goals or even add new ones. The New Year offers an opportunity to make that reflection.

The new year doesn’t actually begin anything. A few days earlier is the longest night of the year. The light starts to return a bit longer each day. New Year’s Day is not the beginning of a season. It’s basically an arbitrary date. It’s when we start counting taxes and insurance deductibles for another year. Nonetheless, it provides an opportunity to reflect and set goals for the next phase of our lives.

One of my goals for 2019 is to reenergize this blog. After a couple of months of unintended hiatus, it seems like a good time to reboot.

We were in the midst of a series reflecting on the nature of needs versus wants. If we are to build a more responsible, compassionate and egalitarian culture, which some of us think is the call for our generation, then we must find a way to address the unmet needs that keep derailing our efforts. To give a framework to the discussion, we turned to Abraham Maslow’s theory of a Hierarchy of Needs.

Over the next several days I will repost the previous articles until we are up to date. Of course, anyone wanting to read the others more quickly can always go to the earlier versions.

I welcome a new year and a chance at new starts. As always, I encourage thoughts, comments or observations on any of our subjects.