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  • Sue Schleifer

Musings on Maslow


Each day, each hour, and in between I “take my pulse.” How do I feel physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually? At times I am calm, engaged in my work, and sometimes even creative and happy. At other times I feel stressed, fragile, achy, tired. And often somewhere in between these two states.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, he outlined that first we must meet our physiological needs: food, water, shelter, air, rest. I am thinking about the needs of the people impacted by Hurricane Laura. Many in Lake Charles and the surrounding area have lost their shelter, water, and more.

Next he writes that we have safety needs: bodily security, protection from attack, feeling both physically and psychologically safe. I am thinking about COVID-19 and how that has impacted our safety. I am thinking about racism and police brutality and how that impacts the safety of so many.

The next need is for belonging and love. The fourth level is for esteem and respect. The final level is self-actualization: living according to one’s full potential and becoming who we really are.

Maslow’s theory has been studied and debated extensively since he developed it in 1943. My purpose is not to debate the theory but rather to use it as a jumping off point to examine my own experience. Perhaps it will give you a way to look at your life from a new perspective.

I come from a starting point of having my physiological and safety needs met. Then COVID-19 came along, and I didn’t feel so safe. For several months, my focus was primarily on the first three levels. Then gradually, I was able to bring in creativity, which for me is the self-actualization stage.

I seem to float between the levels on any given day/week depending upon what is happening in the news, in the weather, and with my family and friends. I’m usually not whipped by the wind (except at times like when Laura approached); it’s more like surfing the waves. Sometimes I imagine I fall off the board and get tossed beneath the surf, and then manage to grab the board and paddle back out and look around. Sometimes I even see a more peaceful horizon.

What about you?

Sue Schleifer | Life and Leadership Coaching | sue@lifeandleadershipcoaching.com