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A close-up of a newly opened delphinium flower (Summer 2013).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Are You Stuck?

You are responsible for your life. 
You can't keep blaming somebody else for your dysfunction. 
Life is really about moving on. 

~Oprah Winfrey

I have been reflecting about how some people who have unsatisfied needs are stuck, unable to satisfy and fulfill certain needs. In the process, they might become morally confused and diffused. Their integrity collapses under the burden of meeting some of their unsatisfied needs.

I remember studying Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to understand human motivation. I became fascinated with his notion of the five human needs, arranged in a hierarchical order. Below is the chart:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

For Maslow, human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, with basic needs calling for satisfaction first before one can move to self-actualizing needs. These basic needs are: physiological (survival needs such as water, air, food, sleep); safety (security in employment, heath insurance, safe neighborhood); social (belonging, love, and affection); and esteem (self-esteem, personal worth, social recognition, accomplishment). Once these needs are fulfilled, an individual can develop toward greater growth for self-actualization.

You might have some disagreements about Maslow's theory of motivation (which may not perfectly explain all of our life's goals and actions) but for now, let's focus on the first five basic needs. 

Do you know of some people who are stuck trying to fulfill their survival needs? Then their focus is the day-to-day need for food, water, sleep and other basic necessities that would ensure their survival. If these needs cannot be met, they could get stuck in this level. In the process of satisfying these needs, they may look for ethical ways to fulfill them (i.e., getting a job) or choose the easy but unethical route (i.e., steal, use people to fulfill their needs, engage in prostitution). 

In my research of older people and their motivation, there is evidence that they move towards broader attachments and connections as they age (i.e., religion and spirituality) while self-centeredness declines (Tornstam, 1999; Coleman, 2000). However, you might know of some older people who are still stuck in their survival needs, even if they are financially stable. As a result, they use unethical ways to obtain properties and money, to the extent of lying and committing forgery, to get what [they feel] they need.

Let's say a person has satisfied his survival and safety needs but his social and esteem needs are still  deficient for some reasons. Perhaps his former girlfriend left him which leads him to question his self worth. Using Maslow's theory, it is obvious that unless he is able to fulfill his social and esteem needs, he will be stuck in these levels.  In the process of satisfying his need of love, affection, and personal worth, he could become very selective (being careful not to re-experience being dumped) or may just fall for any girl that comes along. This person might even develop a dependent-obsessive personality, which in turn could turn off most girls.

Which level are you in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? 

Are you stuck in any of these levels? 

What ethical ways will you choose to meet your needs?

Don't forget to share your comments below.

Have an awesome week, dear readers!



Coleman, P. (2000). Aging and the satisfaction of psychological needs (Commentary). Psychological Inquiry, 11, 291-293.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from

Tornstam, L. (1999). Transcendence in later life. Generations, 10-14.

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