Do you know if you are fulfilling your human needs? Unmet needs can lead to unhappiness, divorce, disorders, anger, and sometimes abuse. These human needs are running our actions and behaviors. We instinctively desire to satisfy them. Although we may appear different, we are all one. Gay, straight, bi-sexual, black, white or any other race or mixture of races– it doesn’t matter we are all human and we have the same essential needs to be our best.
Humans understand each other because we have the same emotions, we are all one and interconnected. We basically have the same emotions to specific events so when we see someone hurting, we feel their pain because we know what it’s like (or we can imagine) to go through hard times. Do you know what your needs are?
In 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote an influential paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation”. Maslow stated that human beings have certain needs, these necessities are arranged in a hierarchy. Higher needs come into play only when the lower, more basic ones are met.
Maslow called the bottom four levels of the pyramid ‘deficiency needs’ because a person does not feel anything if they have achieved these necessities, but they become anxious if they are not. Maslow named the fifth level of the pyramid ‘growth needs’ because it enables a person to ‘self-actualize’ or to reach his fullest potential as a human being.
When a person has met their deficiency needs, they focus on self-actualization; however, only a small minority of people can reach self-actualization because it requires uncommon qualities such as honesty, independence, awareness, creativity, and originality.
These categories relate to the biological systems in the body. Physiological needs drive human behavior.
These needs are divided into 2 categories:
1. The first category are our homeostatic needs—the need to maintain an internal, biological balance. If a substance in your body is lacking, there will be a desire to consume foods or drink water to bring these levels back into balance. The second category includes non-homeostatic needs, such as sleep and sex.
Therefore, if a person is thirsty or hungry, they will attempt to remedy these deficiencies. If someone doesn’t fulfill their basic biological essentials, they won’t be able to trust their environment and end up becoming neurotic and anxious.
After the physiological necessities are handled, safety needs come next. People require a stable and secure lifestyle. Luckily, today society (for the most part) takes care of our safety needs with police, laws, and guards.
So once physical requirements are supplied, the individual’s safety takes over and dominates their behavior. These needs have to do with the desire for a predictable, stable, ordered world. If you don’t attain this consistency, you will feel doubt and shame and that can lead to an obsessive attempt for discipline and orderliness.
Sense of Belonging and Love
When physiological and safety needs are reached, there is the need to belong and to feel loved. People need to feel affection in relationships and the sense of belonging to a group. We are increasingly alone and slip deeper into isolation.
Some people will search for a marital partner, reach out to their family, volunteer, join a club or some unfortunates will take the guilt-ridden path of joining a church.
This involves attaining relationships in general, like friends, sexual intimacy and having a supportive family. If one fails to secure close relationships, they become tormented with negative emotions such as guilt, loneliness, and emptiness.
Isolation can drastically affect our well-being, mental health, emotional state, and behavior. We need regular quality contact with other people. Maslow stated that neglecting these needs is the primary cause for mental disorders. He commented, “We have largely forgotten our deep animal tendencies to herd, to flock, to join, to belong.”
Maslow divided esteem needs into two categories: the need for respect from others and for self-esteem.
All humans are compelled to gain self respect and respect from others. People have to gain some sort of recognition and have an activity that gives them a sense of contribution, to feel accepted and self-valued. Because if they don’t get esteem, they will have feelings of inferiority.
Cognitive – Exploring, learning and understanding, curiosity, need for meaning and predictability.
Aesthetic – appreciation of the beauty of life and search for beauty, balance, and form.
Self-actualization is the instinctual of humans to make the most of their abilities and to strive to become the best person they can be. Maslow wrote,
“Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are ultimately to be at peace with themselves. What humans can be they must be. They must be true to their own nature. This need we may call self-actualization … It refers to people’s desire for self-fulfillment, namely, the tendency for them to become actualized in what they are potentially.”
Characteristics of self-actualizers:
1. They perceive reality efficiently and can tolerate uncertainty;
2. They accept themselves and others for what they are;
3. They are spontaneous in thought and action;
4. Problem-centered (not self-centered);
5. They have an odd sense of humor;
6. Able to look at life objectively;
7. Highly creative;
8. Resistant to conformity, but not purposely unconventional;
9. Concerned for the welfare of humanity;
10. Capable of deep appreciation of basic life-experience;
11. Establish deep satisfying interpersonal relationships with a few people;
12. Peak experiences;
13. Need for privacy;
15. Strong moral/ethical standards.
Behavior leading to self-actualization:
(a) Experiencing life as a child, with full absorption and concentration;
(b) Trying new things instead of sticking to safe paths;
(c) Listening to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority;
(d) Avoiding pretense (‘game playing’) and being honest;
(e) Being prepared to be unpopular if your views do not coincide with those of the majority;
(f) Taking responsibility and working hard;
(g) Trying to identify your defenses and having the courage to give them up.
Maslow later divided the top of the triangle to add self-transcendence. This need is sometimes referred to as spiritual needs because it leads to feelings of integrity and take things to another level of being. A person is motivated by values which transcend beyond the personal self.
In conclusion, when you meet your needs, you will experience a immense joy and fulfillment in your life. On the other hand, if you don’t attain these needs, you will feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied. Every single day of your life you are unconsciously striving to meet these needs. I assure you that knowing your human needs and reaching them, will transform your life.