Maslow designed this triangle in 1943 to explain what human beings at a very basic level, in order to flourish and grow as individuals. Many therapists find it’s a useful framework to work from when exploring why somebody may be feeling anxious, depressed or “stuck”.
So think about reading this triangle from the bottom-up. Starting from the bottom, in the current situation, which of these needs would you say are meeting your needs?
“Yes” to air, water, food (hopefully), possibly shelter (or are you crammed into a small space with people and desperate to get out?). And if you really think about it, how’s your sleep? Perhaps you are worrying and have interrupted sleep and vivid dreams, perhaps you just can’t stop sleeping and keep waking up much later than usual. In an article by Health.com they noted that influences like anxiety, isolation and boredom can have a detrimental effect on our sleep. Clothing? Reproduction? Well we will leave you to think about those, but the principle is, that the needs in the bottom layer or “hierarchy” need to be met before individuals can attend to their needs higher up.
Safety is of course the dominating concern for most of us at this time, with messages from the Government, NHS images of Covid-19 Intensive Care units, constant warnings in the press, we are being bombarded with information that the world is no longer a safe place to inhabit – and we don’t know when it will become safe again. And it’s not only our health to consider, our security, employment, resources and property can also feel under threat.
The next two layers of esteem and self-actualization come when our needs are met, we then feel able to grow as individuals, have dreams and aspirations – and the confidence to make things happen. Right now, some of these aims and feelings may feel a long way ahead with the uncertainty of the “unlock” and how it will develop.