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The Trouble with Self Actualization

  • Posted on June 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM

I’ve often looked at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and been proud of the fact that I was pursuing self-actualization.

Image from http://www.simplypsychology.org/Hierarchyofneeds.jpg

I have often sought to fulfill my creativity and pursue my talents. Yet, it’s called a “Hierarchy” for a reason. According to Maslow’s theory, you’re supposed to pursue these things in order and I’ve never been very good at that. Now, from what I understand, Maslow’s hierarchy hasn’t held up against professional academic scrutiny and study. This is probably at least partially due to the fact that you can pursue needs out of order. But still, there are reasons that certain needs are fundamental to survival.

When it comes to personal pursuits, striving for self-actualization is not at all a bad thing. When it comes to raising a family, then providing for physiological needs, safety needs, and belonging needs is a pretty big deal. It’s a big part of the job of the parent.

If your priorities get out of order, it can become difficult to choose to meet physiological or safety needs, when you want to skip up to mastery and creativity. It takes balance. I keep reminding myself of that.