I began thinking about vitality after presenting the Unleashing Leadership training last year in South Africa. It began with a question from Tim Goodenough and then that question led Time and myself to create the Self-Actualization Assessment Scale. What question does that scale answer? The question that Tim posed:
“How do you actually use the hierarchy of needs to facilitate your own self-actualization?”
The answer is actually simple enough—Find out how well you are doing on each need, how well are you gratifying each need, how free you are from each need so that you can move up to the next higher level of need, and how much you are free from the lower needs to focus on the higher needs? That is, how much do the lower needs create a foundation for self-actualizing for you?
Your vitality goes back to your needs. And the matter of the fact is that neither you nor I ever get away from our “lower” animal needs. In fact, every single day we wake up and start there again. I did this morning. How about you? Not only that, but every day and every hour of every day we still require the most basic needs of life— air, water, food, sleep, etc. Our physiological and basic neurological needs never go away for good. We revisit them constantly and yet, here’s the mystery and wonder, if you are adequately gratifying them, then the revisits are short, temporary, and not turned into “the meaning of life.”
And if that’s the case, then you have a foundation for living a self-actualizing life. If that’s the case for you, then you are free to move beyond the animal needs to the truly human needs. Maslow called these truly human needs the being needs, the growth needs, and the self-actualization needs. These are the highest needs—the expressive needs to be fully and uniquely you as a human being. These are the needs to understand, to know, to contribute, to make a difference, to create beauty, order, to embrace truth, to create fairness, to give love, etc. And in terms of vitality—these are the needs that enable you to truly unleash the vitality of your life.
Is that your life?
Does your life have that kind of energy, passion, and vitality?
Would you like it to?
You can. You have that potential within you. And that’s what Neuro-Semantics as a discipline for actualizing excellence is designed to facilitate and that’s especially true for the new workshop:Unleashing Vitality.
How? First and foremost, develop your base vitality and identity. That’s the theme of Day 1 of theUnleashing Vitality workshop. We start at the base with our drives—with the needs that drive our energy and motivation. The four levels of these lower needs address the needs that we share with the higher intelligent animals. And when we “truly satisfy” the need (Maslow’s terminology), the drive of the need is gratified and with that, the next level of need emerges into awareness. It is in this way, that we move up the level of our needs and move to live and operate at the higher levels.
So what can mess this up? Lots of things: satisfiers that do not work, that do not actually gratify the need, cognitive distortions in our thinking patterns about our needs, distorted meanings, semantically over-loading the meanings so that we are trying to make a lower need “the meaning of life.” Any of these things can interfere with a basic need and its requirements and cause us to become stuck at an animal level of living, which is not a good thing for a human being!
Achieving a base vitality, Day 2 moves into the Self-Actualization needs— “Seeking your Peak Vitality and Identity.” We now explore the 7 meta-drives or needs, the seven being needs of the human expressive motivation and use the Self-Actualization Assessment Scale for that as well. Human vitality transcends the animal needs and moves you up into those needs that no longer operate from lack, scarcity, or deficiency. You don’t need these in the same way as the lower needs. And when you gratify them, they do not go away. They grow. They expand. They make you richer and fuller and more desirous, more ambitious. Move here and you will begin to experience the vitality of marvelous little peak experiences throughout your days and weeks. These are the rushes of vitality that we experience as joy, happiness, thrill, engagement, commitment, passion, and living for something bigger than yourself.
Where from there? The theme of Day 3 is “Living the Vitality.” Now it’s time to fully experience the organisms of the peaks of the higher live. And Maslow has wonderfully provided some hands-on processes for doing that. By taking his characteristics of self-actualizing people which he identified in his modeling, I have identified several peaking skills and that makes up most of Day 3.
Vitality —the purpose of a fully alive/ fully human person! Well, at least in Self-Actualization Psychology. This is the psychology of human possibilities, of studying and viewing man as his and her best, under conditions of psychological health. You are not made to just get by, to endure, to survive. You were made for much greater possibilities than that! All this also comes back to the charge that Maslow began making from his original studies, “We have sold human nature short; there is a higher nature in man.”
Maslow also added to that several other ideas: That higher nature that’s within you and within me is ever-present and always calling out to us— if we can quiet ourselves and learn to listen to our inner voice. That higher nature is also asking you to become your Real Self. And that’s part of theUnleashing Vitality workshop. I’ll describe that in the next Meta Reflection.