One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ELAINES CORNER

Elaine’s Corner: Hierarchy of Needs

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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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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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.



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Discussion

There are 4 comments so far.

    CarolineC

    October 5, 2010

    I think the most important thing for me to do to move closer to self-actualization is to live as authentically as I can. I guess this would fall under “acceptance of facts”. To be genuine and honest with others and with myself. If I ever have a facade it must be because there is some reason I don’t want to face the reality of the situation. That is just ridiculous. Or that I am not proud of the truth. What good motivation to live in such a way as to be proud of yourself, so you are not ashamed to put it out there. So I’m going to try even harder to be “real”. With myself, with others, on my blogs.

    Kirsten

    October 6, 2010

    Self-Actualization for me is connecting my mind, body and spirit and creating a sense of balance. This means, accepting myself as I am mentally, emotionally, and physically. I am always striving to improve myself as a mother, wife, and professional; however, leaving very little time for myself. Recently, my mind and physical body have drifted apart and have become off balance. As a result, weight gain and loss of respect for self have managed to creep its way back into my life. For the last few years I have been stuck and drifted back to self-esteem issues and not liking my physical body. By default, my strength has always been geared around exercising my mind and when one supersedes the other, I’m off balance. As a female we naturally give ourselves to help others, and then in return, manage to neglect ourselves. Helping everyone else but myself has created my physical self to become off kilter. The good news is that I have recognized this pattern and have started to change the bad habits to good habits. Not only am I eating smarter, I am incorporating exercise in to my daily schedule and making it fun too! It’s been so contagious that I’ve influenced by family and friends and they have joined me in my new journey. As a result, I am feeling fantastic and have accepted this as my new active lifestyle.

    Diets That Work Fast

    October 6, 2010

    I find that Maslow’s Law seems surprisingly true, although not as consistent as oh, say, the Law of Gravity. Getting started always remains the hardest part for most, I think. 10 weeks is not really all that long in reality though.

    Robyn

    October 6, 2010

    I’m with you 100% Elaine. I am a Psychology major, myself, yet I never realized that I have been taking these exact steps in trying to achieve health and happiness. In the past year, I have settled disputes with friends, learned to forgive other people, and most importantly learned to forgive MYSELF. In doing all these things, I really feel like it is so much easier for me to do things for ME and be there for ME when I really need it. I always used to put other ahead of myself, and while I still care deeply about my friends and loved ones, I am a much happier and well balanced person now that I allow myself to discover who I really am and what I enjoy out of life.