Feeling Hopeless Is Easy- Consistent Confidence Isn’t: A Critique Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
We covered how culture substitutes control for peace. Society has slowly pushed us away from the nature's rythms which were designed as a restorative witness from the Lord.
If you missed out on that idea check out last week’s blog here!
Today, I want to take a deep dive into why hopelessness is so rampant in our society. With a third of our population in some form of depression, it seems like a relevant question to ask.
Note: For guys, depression can come out in anger & irritability more than sadness. I didn’t know that until I had to face depression head on myself. Look out for this in detail in my next post!
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
For those of you who don’t know, let me catch you up on ol’ Maslow! He was an American humanist psychologist. Mentored by one of Sigmund Freud’s early colleagues at the Columbia University where he finished his education and later taught on faculty.
What makes Maslow relevant today is his approach to the human mind. Freud, and others before Maslow, had explored abnormal behaviors and the mentally ill. Instead, Maslow wanted to explore what made a person happy and healthy.
As a humanist he believed everyone had inherent worth and must take ownership of their own actions whether positive or negative. However, those actions do not cancel out one’s inherent worth. According to the humanist philosophy, a human's highest fulfillment is self growth. This leads to the selfless altruism of helping others.
Why Is Any Of This Important?
At my lowest emotional point to date I remember walking into my counselor’s office completely hurt and hopeless. One of the 1st things he did was hand me a sheet to fill out on my core needs.
His form immediately got thrown back in his face “None of this applicable!” I half screamed.
What a great guy, he just smiled and asked “Why?”
I sat for a moment trying to analyze my anger and my grief before I answered “You asked me to rate how completely my needs are met on a scale of 1 to 10. They are all 1 doc.” I said with tears forming in my eyes.
In an extreme way, I realized just how much I ignored my own needs, to my paril. For years, I tried to put my family 1st and keep marching on no matter how much it hurt or what the pain was.
That’s what men do right? We take it. We bear the burden.
When my life came crashing down due to mistakes I made, it became all too clear that none of my needs were being met and it was MY fault!
This was a primary cause for the pain and the tension I had created in my family. Then I started taking a look at different friends and family members. I realized something. So often as men we tend to bottle up our feelings and ignore our problems.
The issue is that it never solves anything. Your problem is still there and and your emotions will just come out in a way you cannot predict or control. In the end you become a danger to your family through unpredictability and anger.
This experience is part of what put me on the path I’m one now.
Three Categories of Needs
There are 3 basic types of needs in Maslow’s needs hierarchy.
- Survival Needs
- Psychological Needs
- Self Actualization Needs
First, let me be clear on what I’m not going to spend much time on:
Namely, oxygen, water, shelter, security, safety, and sleep.
In America, and most of the 1st world, we have those needs covered. If I ever get around to doing a survivalist post maybe I’ll cover these in more detail, but I think most of us got these covered because they are the most obvious to us.
That said, sometimes we find ourselves missing one of these survival needs, or one of them is in question. If not met, they will cause major deficiencies in our mental health. No matter what we do to repair the higher level needs, if our survival needs are not met we will suffer from an underlying anxiety that will not abate until they are met.
An example of this would be someone who is not sure where their next rent payment is coming from. Their need for shelter isn’t really being met. If someone’s in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship their need for safety isn’t being met. This is why many of them suffer from low self esteem issues.
You get the point. It is worth it to go through these needs yourself and make sure they are all being met comfortably before you go on to the next level.
These are needs like friends, intimate relationships, respect, and the feeling of accomplishment. They don’t pertain to your physical needs, but they are crucial elements to leading a regenerative life that brings forth health.
Friendship should be obvious, but in today’s world studies like this one from Harvard indicate 36% of adults feel lonely with numbers ticking up to 65% for those 18 - 25. Which is Generation Z. This shows we are losing that human connection we all need.
This is especially true for adult men. We tend to focus on their families and lose touch with friends as a result. Then how many of us actually take time to call each other on the phone? I know I’m guilty of that!
This is where where we can provide some practical help. A hunting trip is a great excuse to connect with your friends again. If you’re not into that, order a beef box and invite some guys over for some steak.
Click here and check out our popular 10 lb Variety Box!
Intimate relationships are a step further. This can mean a romantic relationship like a wife or a girlfriend, but for many that isn’t the case at all. Sometimes we have hard marriages and don’t feel like we can trust our wives with certain parts of hurts. Some of us are single. What do we do then?
Friends are people that we hang out with, but the real treasure is developing intimate relationships where they know our struggles. They can’t wait to celebrate with us when we succeed because they know what is important to us. They know our fears and dreams.
It’s a scary thought for a lot of guys, especially when it’s easier to talk about how the Cowboys are gonna do this year. Horrible by the way, because it’s not 1996!
I said what I what said… sorry, not sorry.
Respect, we all need it. Gosh, if anything ever gets twisted in the lens of modern masculinity this is it! Respect is when you have people who care about your opinion. They want to hear your thoughts. They value your advice, even if they don’t always take it. Part of meeting your needs means finding people and pouring into their lives to build this respect. It only grows with time and care.
Feeling of accomplishment, this is when you feel like you are actually accomplishing something in life. The opposite of this is futility; when you feel like you are spinning your wheels and there is nothing you can do to fix the problems in your life. For men, this futility pushes us towards unwanted behaviors and shame.
Getting on the path of feeling that accomplishment is pretty simple, though not always easy. First, you will want to identify what is actually important to you. I’m a big believer in goal setting and I have them for almost every facet of my life.
One huge goal I have right now is to get back down to size 34 jeans. I’m in 36's right now. How does this lead to a sense of accomplishment? Well, it doesn’t on its own. Setting a goal just gives us an end point and the natural motivation behind that goal shows the importance of it in my life.
The real sense of accomplishment comes when I measure backwards. I tend to think back on the day and ask myself : Did I follow my diet today? Did I give it my all in my workout? Did I take time to get up and move today? If I did, then I can trust the process knowing I won today. Just have to do it tomorrow too!
If you want help with this, a great article I wrote on measuring backwards is here.
Self Actualizing Needs
I am using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs because of its popularity and simplicity, but here is my big beef with Maslow. At the heart of humanist philosophy is the belief that men are good and everyone just wants to be the best version of themselves. That in turn translates into some kind of natural altruism. This is why I stated thist is a “critique” of his hierarchy.
We have to hand it to Maslow for looking at the brain in a way that builds heath instead of an approach that simply explains the abnormal. Hats off, really. At the end of the day, his needs, and anyone’s list of needs for that matter, is simply an arbitrary system to turn the human experience into solvable components we can tackle one at a time.
His humanist philosophy is what leads him astray. Humanist philosophy would say humans are naturally good.
The Bible says:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Over and over again the Bible goes into how we broke ourselves and the effects of our brokenness. Scripture calls it sin. That’s why Jesus came to die for us. This is important because it changes the aim of our highest needs dramatically.
To be fair to humanists, the end result is actually the result we both want, but one cannot find self fulfillment and expect it to lead to pure altruism as a lifestyle. Our hearts and our sin nature get in the way.
Instead Jesus says:
“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
It’s paradoxical I know, but what Jesus is basically saying we can find our self actualization in a relationship with him.. If we dedicate our needs, our emotions, our time, our effort, our everything to Him, then he will make sure we find life.
This can be a mystery until we look at another verse and let scripture interpret scripture:
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand. And when I wake up you are still with me!”
You see, God knows you exactly who you are. He made you, and thinks about you, specifically, all the time! That means, he knows your needs, and wants to take care of you even more than you do. I could go on and on verse by verse on this topic, but this isn’t a bible study!
The take away is this. Christ wants all of us to match him in Character. To be just like him. BUT he made our personalities completely unique. That means how Christ’s character expresses itself is as limitless as the amount of people who have ever lived and who will live!
This is how Christ intends to fulfill our greatest need of self transcendence. Through connecting our hearts with his we can have our minds transformed. Then it comes out in our own unique personalities.
C.S. Lewis, a famous Christian writer from the UK, says God is the only addiction that makes everything else in our lives better. The more you chase both a relationship with him and seek to mold your life to look like his, the more you will notice your needs are being met.
Cam King, a mentor of mine, says this of role models: “If you want to be like them you need to believe what they believe, and do what they do. Then it becomes adapted uniquely to your life.”
He was speaking of individuals, but we can and should also apply this to Jesus. Let me give you an example. To take this all down from the theoretical.
Recently I built a website for a friend of mine. She and her husband run a successful outfitter business over facebook. They have some specialized products that took custom templates on Shopify.
It took me a little while, but I was able to observe her process and make it even easier for her and more transparent for her customers. After handing off the product I realized I could use the same structure in my business!
My goal with building her a website was not just to get a task done, but to truly love their family by making something that would bless their lives and they could be proud to own. It was expression of love the way Christ loves us. It is through giving up my time, part of my life, that I was able to find what I needed!
I had recently been asking the Lord to provide for our business, and he did, through loving someone else and losing my life for his sake!
For me, these concepts seem so huge until we pull them down into actual experiences where we have been able to execute the concept in a small way, then we just need to replicate it!
God is allowing me to use my personal gifts of website development, image editing, and copy writing to serve this family. In losing this part of my life I was rewarded with a new product of my own and a feeling that I truly got to help someone. A.K.A. Altruism and Self Transcendence.
The question is, are you allowing Christ and the Church in to start remaking you? How is your personality reelected and grown as Christ is allowed to take root in your character and thinking?
If not, then your highest needs aren’t being met.
I’ll admit, some of this can feel dicy; especially if you are not already a believer in Christ. So I want to open myself up for comments and thoughts. For that, I’ll leave the comments on for this blog.
Until Next Time,