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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: an Outline of Human Motivational Theory

🌿 “You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.” — Abraham Maslow 🌿

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an outline of a human motivational theory more commonly taught in the field of psychology that is comprising of a five-tier model of human needs. The model is typically shown as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid | Renewal Care Wellness Center, Beaverton, OR

Upwards from the bottom of the hierarchy, the stated needs are: physiological (shelter, food and clothing), safety (personal and financial security), love and belonging (family, friendship), esteem, and at the top is self-actualization.

Needs further down in the hierarchy must first be satisfied before individuals can comfortably achieve or attend to higher level needs. (Think fight or flight vs. personal development.)

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the best-known theories of motivation. His theory states that human actions are motivated by key physiological and psychological needs that progress from more basic to complex.

Maslow first introduced the concept of a hierarchy of needs in 1943. His theory suggests that people are ultimately motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving onto more advanced developmental and personal growth desires.

Maslow was very interested in learning about what makes people happy and satisfied in life—and what they do to progress along life achieve those goals. This was actually contrary to the mainstream school of thought at the time from psychoanalysis and behaviorism lenses, which often focused more on problematic human behaviors.

Maslow believed that people are born with an inner desire to become self-actualized—to be all they can be in life. However, to achieve this ultimate goal, basic needs must be met first, like the need for food, safety, love, and self-esteem.

He believed that these needs are similar to instincts and play a critical role in actually motivating human behavior.

There are FIVE (5) different levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, starting at the lowest level, known as physiological needs.

Level 1: Physiological Needs

Level 1 are physiological needs are those that are vital to our very survival, like water, food and nutrition, air and breathing, temperature control and Homeostasis.

Additionally, to these basic requirements, needs also include safe shelter and clothing.

Level 2: Safety Needs

At the 2nd level of the hierarchy, the needs start to grow in complexity. This level includes primary needs like security and physical safety. People also strive for control and order in their lives, including financial security, having stable health and wellness, and safety against accidents and injury.

Together, the first 2 safety and physiological levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs make up what is often referred to as “basic needs.”

Level 3: Love and Belonging

The social needs in Maslow’s hierarchy include love, acceptance, and belonging. At this 3rd level, the need for emotional relationships drives human behavior, like friendships, family relationships, community and church affiliations, and romantic relationships.

It’s important for us to feel loved and accepted by ourselves and others, especially to circumvent feelings of loneliness, anxiety, dissatisfaction and depression.

Level 4: Esteem

The 4th level in Maslow’s hierarchy is the need for respect and appreciation. When the lower 3 levels have been achieved, the esteem needs begin to drive greater motivation for behavior choices.

Humans have a deep desire to accomplish things in life and have a sense for fulfillment, and have their efforts recognized and feel they are valued by others and are making a contribution to this world, but this also includes inner self-esteem and personal worth.

The social esteem and levels are known as the “psychological needs” of his outlined hierarchy.

Level 5: Self-Actualization

At the very top of Maslow’s hierarchy model are human self-actualization needs. Self-actualizing people are ultimately interested in identifying and fulfilling their potential. They are inspired to take on personal growth, are more self-aware, and are less concerned with opinions from others.

Maslow’s said of self-actualization:

“It may be loosely described as the full use and exploitation of talents, capabilities, potentialities, etc. Such people seem to be fulfilling themselves and to be doing the best that they are capable of doing. They are people who have developed or are developing to the full stature of which they are capable.”

Take Action

What will you choose to do at this stage in your life? Step forward or step backward, move toward greater fulfillment and out of crisis or status quo toward more life satisfaction and healing of body + mind, or stay in your zone of familiarity?

Learn more about how our advanced wellness services like Life Vessel, Hyperbaric Oxygen and Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapies at Renewal Care Wellness Center can support your body and mind so you can step forward toward the best version of yourself with greater ease!

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