Elaine’s back and this week she as me reminiscing about college. I remember studying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but I never really thought about how it could relate to someone weight loss journey. Interesting.
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As we approach the mid-way point for our 10 week journey on the study of motivation, I continue to be amazed by the wonderful comments I am reading. I have read every single comment and must say that I am completely amazed by the grace, smarts, and compassion that you all demonstrate.
This week, as I encourage all of us on our journeys through our 10-week goals, I want to take some time to discuss Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow was a leader in the field of psychology and believed that humans get “stuck” in meeting their lower-level needs – physiological, safety, love/belonging – before they can advance to meeting their higher-level needs – esteem and self-actualization. The idea of “self-actualization” is the top of the hierarchy and means recognizing and reaching one’s full potential. For a case study of this, I want to example a comment Mary left last week. Mary writes:
What motivates me is the sense/feeling that the life I have been living for so many years really is not a representation of what I feel in my heart and know in my mind. But… what is a person – is it what they think, or what they DO? I realized that I am probably at the mid-point of my life – I’m 49 and that there is so much more ME to develop, share and experience. This process is not about looking better in a pair of jeans (though that does sound pretty fine! :)), it’s about not dying and feeling that there were parts of me left un-touched, un-explored, un-challenged. I’m learning more than I ever have in my life; I’m challenging myself at work, I’m reading and listening more. Damn – life IS good. What’s my motivation…? My motivation is to die (many, MANY years from now) with the feeling that I’ve done everything I possibly could have.
In this comment, it’s clear that Mary is practicing self-actualization – she recognizes her love/belonging needs of wanting smaller jeans, but clearly stating that her biggest motivation is “much more ME” – the very definition of self-actualization.
So, how does one go about developing the hierarchy of needs to tap in to the unique motivational powers inherent to self-actualization? First, meet your basic needs – eat well, nourish your body, exercise your muscles and brain. That fulfills the bottom of the pyramid while also putting you in a position of strength to meet the rest of your needs. Next, meet your safety and love/belonging needs by surrounding yourself with loving relationships – whether that’s a supportive partner, a co-worker than you can eat a healthy lunch with, a friend to meet at the gym, or the supportive community of bloggers at BlogToLose. Although there is no clear, cut-and-dry way to reach self-actualization, if you follow these basic steps – and most importantly, allow yourself time to reflect – you will begin to hear your inner voice more clearly and will move closer and closer to self-actualization. This process takes years – and like Roni says, it’s important to LOVE the process.
What can you do – or are you already doing – that moves you closer to self-actualization? How will self-actualization help motivate you toward your health and wellness goals? These are pretty heavy questions and require some inner thought, but I encourage you to let us know some of your thoughts in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.