Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who suggested that people are motivated to engage in behaviors based on meeting their specific needs. He created a hierarchy of needs that ranked them according to the importance of the need in a person’s life. The chart below is a depiction of his ranking of human needs. When a person is able to meet their needs, Maslow believed they would reach a state he called “Self-Actualization”.
The process of Self-Actualization encompasses meeting needs found on all the levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Self-Actualization is a life-long pursuit because individual needs change over the life span. The more self-actualized a person is, the happier they are and the greater satisfaction they have with their life. It is an individual process–different for each person and is based on a person’s values and beliefs. Every person has the innate ability to make changes to improve their lives with this process. Identification of personal needs and development of skills to attain the desired results are the hallmark of the process. Because it is simpler and more effective to categorize needs based on experiences a person has, Growth Unlimited has identified twelve different life areas or DOMAINS in which these needs may appear. Components of these needs are found on all the levels in Maslow’s Hierarchy.
⦁ Shelter, warmth, food/water, clothing, access to transportation
⦁ Good Health and Adequate Healthcare
⦁ Physical Activity & Exercise
Needs in this category are found at the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Maslow believed that a person could not meet needs found on his interpretation of what was a higher level of need unless the needs below that level have been met. Basic needs such as shelter, warmth, food, and water are considered basic needs. Additional items like adequate healthcare and access to transportation can also be considered basic. Today, experts argue that while these needs are necessary for life, they may or may not be the most important. The current belief is that meeting needs using Maslow’s Hierarchy may not be most effective because human needs do not have a hierarchical nature. For example, most people believe that the interaction and support of family and friends is at least as important to life as the need for housing, nutrition, and healthcare. History has shown this may be true. Reference the conditions children in Middle Eastern orphanages suffered in the recent past. Their physiological needs of shelter, food, and healthcare were met, but because they lacked the individualized personal contact of caregivers, the children either died or became unable to successfully interact with others and develop normal social relationships that were necessary to exist.
SAFETY, LOVE/BELONGING, & ESTEEM:
Growth Unlimited believes these three levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy are interrelated, with a great deal of cross over between the levels for each of the following Life Domains:
⦁ Relationship with Self
The most comprehensive of the relationship domains, Relationship with self takes into account a person’s Self-perception and self-esteem, Acceptance and Celebration of the self, the mechanisms used to deal with change in their lives (Resiliency), their Decision-making ability, and the Coping Skills they use to resolve difficulties. Difficulties people struggle with in this Domain include the use of Thought Distortions and the potential of Self-Abusive Behaviors.
⦁ Personal Relationships
This domain addresses issues in significant relationships with partners. Studies show that adults who are involved in committed, long-term relationships have better overall life functioning. That being said, the quality of the relationship is integral to that good functioning. If there is physical, emotional, or psychological abuse occurring between members of the relationship, Success of and satisfaction with the relationship is threatened.
⦁ Family Relationships
This domain contains three types of Family Relationships. The first is the relationship a person has with his or her Family of Origin. This includes Relationships with parents and Relationships with siblings. It may also include Relationships with Extended Family such as Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Grandparents. These family relationships can also include relationships with family members related only by marriage, such as in-laws.
The second type of family relationship is that of the Nuclear Family. People in this relationship include the person’s children, Issues in these relationships typically involve strife between parent and child. Children may not feel their needs are being met and may want or need more attention from parents. Conversely, they may struggle for more autonomy, or claim they are being treated unfairly. Parents, on the other hand, often struggle with the tasks of setting and maintaining boundaries and limits appropriately. This results in the child using behaviors that are not acceptable to the parent. People in the parenting situation may need support in learning effective Parenting Skills and Relationship Development to help create a peaceful, loving and productive environment in their homes.
Finally, Family-type relationships with family members who are not biologically related or related through marriage, such as Godparents or very close Family Friends can be considered family relationships. Issues arising in these relationships are usually a result of poor communication. Being able to clearly communicate boundaries and limits can be helpful.
⦁ Social Relationships
The next type of relationship is Social Relationships. These are Friendships with people a person knows, who are interested in the same topics, and can carry the responsibility of being a friend by using cooperation, listening, and having a desire to spend time with their friends, followed by engaging in friendly activities and outings. People sometimes struggle to make or keep friends. Self-Actualization in this area includes knowing how to make friends with someone, knowing who to be friends with, as well as being able to choose activities you can enjoy together.
The next type of Social Relationship is the Business Contact. This is a business owner or employee a person does business with on a regular enough level that they know the name of the customer and is friendly and engaging when they meet. This social contact may or may not be interacted with outside the business they are related to.
⦁ Professional Life Satisfaction & Relationships
Since roughly half of our waking hours are spent working, this Domain is critical to happiness and Self-Actualization. Someone who works his or her choice of profession and finds the work fulfilling rates his or her life satisfaction much higher than someone who is not able to do that. When Job Satisfaction is high, the worker feels appreciated, finds work challenging, believes there is potential for advancement in the job, and feels confident about planning their future in their current position. They possess the necessary skills to effectively perform the work including personal skills in areas such as organization and time management. Achievement of Self-Actualization in this Domain occurs when the individual has completed these components.
The highest tier of Maslow’s Theory, Dr. Maslow defined this tier as one where transcendence to complete awareness of self would occur. At this level, people have learned all or most of the skills they need to use to complete the Self-Actualization and engage in using successful means to get their needs met. The following needs are typically addressed at this level of the program:
In this Domain, Self-Actualization is achieved when the person feels Personal Satisfaction with Level of Education Achieved and has completed enough professional training they are able and qualified to meet their professional goals. They are involved in ongoing education in subject(s) they are interested in pursuing. Education may be formal or use informal methods. If these goals have not been met, the person has a working plan in place that they are implementing to obtain the training needed. If they are in school, their academic performance is at a level that will help them achieve their educational goals, or they are moving toward achieving that requirement.
Self-Actualization in this domain is attained when a person is fully aware of the values and beliefs he or she holds, the values and beliefs provide a non-threatening and non-harming environment to the person themselves and to others he or she may be encountering, and the person conducts their daily behavior in alignment with the values and beliefs. The Self-Actualized person’s life has purpose and has made a plan to exemplify the purpose. Spirituality does not necessarily require a belief in or following Diety. However, should the person have that belief, following the guidelines dictated by the belief is part of the Self-Actualizing process and can be very helpful in achieving Self-Actualization.
⦁ Financial Stability
A challenge to many, this Domain supports the individual to provide financial stability for their life. To Self-Actualize Financially, a person needs to have adequate regular income to meet daily needs and provide resources to plan for the future. Wealth does not necessarily indicate Financial Self-Actualization. The knowledge and ability to plan the available resources and use them wisely is a far greater indicator. A long term financial plan designed to provide for the extended future and a short-term financial plan to provide for current short term planning should be in place as should be a budget for day-to-day planning. The ability to create and maintain these items is an indicator that the individual is able and ready to move forward toward self-actualization in this area. A willingness to learn about investing and growing assets, then using that knowledge practically is an activity a person may choose to help achieve Self-Actualization. Lastly, planning ahead with appropriate insurance to protect against loss should be part of the overall plan. Life, Health, and Property insurances should be included.
Since a major part of the Self-Actualization process is taking care of oneself, this Domain focuses on maintaining access to proper healthcare and using it appropriately when it is needed is a way of demonstrating Self-Actualization skills. Getting regular health checkups, maintaining recommended vaccinations, and seeing a physician when needed for illness or injury is all part of the process. Maintaining adequate health insurance to help cover the cost is also important. Choosing activities included in a healthy lifestyle and avoiding addictive, mind-altering, and/or illegal substances is also an important part of discipline involved in Self-Actualization. Maintaining a healthy life balance between work, play, exercise, and getting enough rest is also an indicator of true Self-Actualization. People who are Self-Actualized have developed a plan to provide a structure and means to maintain the level of health they want.
⦁ Community Involvement & Social Responsibility
This final domain provides an opportunity for a Self-Actualizing person to “make a difference” and “leave a legacy” to others. Additionally, it provides a forum of extreme personal satisfaction to the person. People who are involved providing service and support to others in the community report a sense of accomplishment, joy in participation, and great satisfaction from the experience. The rewards of helping make a difference in the life of someone else are vast. Whether the Self-Actualizing person wants to participate by running for office, by volunteering for governmental and/or social service agencies, by working with youth or community groups, or by just being involved in social or political movements, they are able to make their voices heard for the difference they see needs to be made.
Staying active in the community is another way to be involved and show social responsibility. Make your voice heard by talking to others about your opinions on current social issues. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Stay current on daily local, state, and national events. Contact your elected representatives and let them know how you feel. Be sure to vote in every election. Your voice can inform and influence others. Let it be heard.