• Latasha Becker, LMSW

Meeting your needs

A well known American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, proposed that as humans, we have five stages of needs - known as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow proposed that in order to have happiness, satisfaction, and sustainability, these needs have to be met. The five stages; starting with the most basic are:

1: Physiological needs: The most basic needs we have in order to be alive: breathing, water, food, sleep. These basic needs are required by all animals.

2: Safety needs: Being able to secure employment, resources, security of your family, health and property. Being able to protect one's self. If a person's physiological needs are threatened or not being met, the focus sometimes shifts to meeting safety needs instead. 3. Love and belonging: This is the need for friendship, family, and sexual intimacy. These needs are typically met by family, significant others, and friends. When safety and physiological needs are not being met, people may tend to focus more on love and belonging as a way to have their needs met.

4. Esteem: Esteem is necessary in order to reach self-actualization. Self-confidence, recognition, as well as acceptance from others are important components of this need.

5: Self-actualization: This is the ability to meet your true potential, what we like to call, your Personal Best. The components of self-actualization vary from person to person. A doctor may be self-actualized when they are able to person a certain medical procedure. A mother might be self-actualized when able to competently care for her children. Only a small minority of people are able to self-actualize, because it requires qualities such as honesty, independence, awareness, objectivity, creativity, and originality.

Maslow argues that the failure to have needs met at various stages of this hierarchy could lead to illness, depression or other mental health issues, and possibly serious psychiatric illness. Not having your most basic needs met may lead death or extreme illness. When safety needs are not met, individuals may develop Post Traumatic Stress. If you do not feel love and belonging, individuals may experience depression or anxiety. The lack of esteem or the ability to self-actualize may also contribute to depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges.

When you have suffered in some way from not having your needs met, at any of these stages, it is a normal reaction to feel stress, sadness, frustration, hopelessness... But at some point, in order to refocus and recover, you have to make a decision. That decision to seek support to address your mental health needs, while planning strategies on how to meet your needs in each of these stages is imperative.

Making that choice may be one of the best steps that you ever take.

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