Personal Development Gurus Exposed: Abraham Maslow

Maslow knew all about passion…….

Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow :: Mr Personality

Abraham Maslow is the personality man.  He’s a humanistic psychologist who has influenced many fields including education.

I want to share his views with you because what he teaches about our natural and basic need to blossom to our full potential really explains our relationship with our personal passions and purpose in life.

Humanists don’t believe we can be effectively pushed and pulled but that we achieve when we act from our potential.  Maslow believed that we operate from an innate curiosity ensuring that we reach for high-level of capabilities, striving for creativity, our highest consciousness and a wiseness to become a ‘fully functioning person’ a ‘healthy personality’ or as Maslow calls this; the ‘self-actualizing person’.

Maslow understood our need to connect with our core to nurture our passions to enable us to realise our full potential.  I’d like to share his thoughts with you, and ask you to consider where your own personal growth compares with his model, then how you can take control to move onward and upward.

Maslow identified and encompassed our primary needs in a 5 level hierarchical structure.  Our primary needs are instinctive, equivalent of those in other creatures.  Each level over rides the next before greater levels of need become apparent.  At our highest levels we realise needs for understanding, esthetic appreciation and spirituality – the comprehensive understanding of self.  In the correct environment we will grow straight and beautiful, realising the potential we’ve inherited.  I believe the vast majority of people hover around levels 3 or 4 with aspirations to the next level but very often do not take the action required to achieve them.

Maslow’s primary requirements are as follows:

1)  Physiological need:

These are biological requirements i.e. oxygen, nutrients, water, and a comparatively constant body heat.  These are our most fundamental needs – if we didn’t have these nothing else would matter to us.

Maslows Hierarchy Of Needs

Maslows Hierarchy Of Needs :: Illustrated as a pyramid with the most basic needs at it's base.

2)  Safety:

When the first level is satisfied and no longer impact our views and behaviors, the demands for security may become active.  This is about living in an orderly predictable world where inconsistencies and the unfamiliar are rare.

3)  Love and belonging:

When safety and physiologic welfare are fulfilled Maslow says that we seek to achieve a feeling of belonging or feeling accepted.  This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging in any emotionally based relationship.

4)  Esteem:

Next up, our need for regard may become dominant. Both self-regard and from other people.  We have a need to be accepted and valued by others or we experience anxiety.  Our need for self-respect translates to the need for mastery, competence, , self-confidence, independence and freedom which are based on inner competence won through our experience.  When these needs are disappointed, the individual feels substandard, powerless, helpless and un-needed.

5)  Self-actualisation:

When all of the above is satisfied then and only then are the needs for self-actualization triggered.  Maslow identifies self-actualization as our motivation to be and do that which we were ‘born to do’.  To realise our full potential.

A musician must do music, an artist must paint.  These needs make themselves felt in signs of impatience or frustration. We feel on edge, lacking something, in short – uneasy.

If we are missing one of the other levels of the hierarchy it’s really quite easy to identify the problem.  It isn’t always clear what’s missing when there’s a need for self-actualization.

Maslow suggests the only reason you won’t achieve self- actualization is because pressures applied by society.  He says that our educational methods contribute to these handicaps and that facilities should react to and nurture the potential a person has for growing into a self-actualizing individual.

Educators should be teaching us to achieve ‘self actualisation’

I’m passionate about educating our children in response to their potential no matter where that may come from.  That their fully realising identity and esteem is paramount to living as a fully functioning person.  My children attend a Montissori nursery which is very much in tune with that philosophy.

Maslow suggested education should be teaching:

  1. To be authentic, to be fully aware of our inner selves by tuning in to inner-feelings.
  2. To exceed our cultural conditioning and become world citizens.
  3. To assist us in discovering our life’s calling.
  4. That life is cherished, and there’s joy to be received, and that if we are open to seeing the good and the joy in all kinds of places, it makes life worth living.
  5. That our uniqueness is a gift and we should learn our intimate nature.  From true knowledge of aptitudes and limitations we may know what to build on, an subsequently what potential exists.
  6. We must see that the individual basic needs of safety, belonging, and esteem are fulfilled to free the path for personal growth.
  7. That we grow our consciousness to value beauty and other uplifting things in nature and in living.
  8. That controls are good, and utter abandon is counter productive. We need personal control to better the quality of life in all areas.
  9. To attain the emotional intelligence to deal with troubles such as unfairness, of pain, suffering, and dying.
  10. To be good selectors.  We should be given practice in making beneficial choices.

It may be a controversial statement to make but I don’t believe our educational system currently nurtures the individuals innate potential.  If anything it seeks to quash creativity in favour of enabling academic study.  I recall my school reports commenting on my ability if ‘I could just apply as much energy to my subjects as I did to my personal interests’.  I can see the same happening with my nieces today.  Something should be done about this.  I haven’t yet found a school for my children that incorporates Montessori philosophy and I’m nervous about that.

So that’s my quick delve into Maslow.   I might be blinkered by my mission but I think he’s suggesting that people operating as a fully functioning person with a healthy personality are those who have identified and are living their passions and their purpose in life.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on Maslow and how his hierarchy fits into modern day life.  Please comment and/or share this post with anyone you think might find value in it.  Thanks.

Here’s to finding and living your passion.

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