We humans are a needy bunch! We are born needy and we die needy. As a species, our life is conditional and the conditions of life, both to just survive and get by and to thrive and reach the peak of what’s possible– puts within us drives and impulses urging us to move and to act to fulfill our needs. And what are these needs? What are these inherent drives motivating you and me?
They are the basic and meta-needs and it was Abraham Maslow who mapped out these levels of needs during the 1930s and 1940s. Today you know these levels as those of survival, safety, belonging, self, and “growth” (self-actualization) for being needs. Maslow documented this in his classic Motivation and Personality (1954) which contains his hierarchy of needs that he had first presented in 1943. In 2006 I updated Maslow’s hierarchy with the models of Neuro-Semantics. That’s when I introduced the Matrix-Embedded Pyramid of Needs. My first book on self-actualization (Unleashed, 2007) briefly discussed the human Base Needs as did Self-Actualization Psychology (2008).
Then in 2009, while in South Africa presenting one of the Unleashing Self-Actualizing Leaders workshop, Tim Goodenough asked a rivoting question that stopped me in my tracks:
How do we use the Hierarchy of Needs for facilitating the self-actualization of clients? How can we use that to determine where a person is in terms of their need gratification?
That’s when I asked Tim to work with me on answering those questions; and he did. Tim and I immediately began mapping out a process for using the Hierarchy of Needs for precisely that purpose. After several false starts, we eventually came up with the proto-type in January of 2010 while at the Leadership Summit. And after another one or two refinements, we presented The Self-Actualization Assessment Scale.
With that Scale we can now assess where you live your life—that is, at what level? Do you live your life at the base of the hierarchy, mid-way up the hierarchy, or at the peak? Depending on how well you have learned to meet your needs, you can live a low level life in terms of need gratification or a high level life. You can live your life in a self-actualizing society or in the jungle at the survival or safety levels. Do you know where you live your life and the specific needs that drive you?
You can also live in the Red Zone of any need— in the realm of deficiency and lack — not getting your needs met, not gratifying the drives that clamor within you. Or you can live in the Green Zone of growth and development, adequately gratifying the driving needs so that the next level of development keeps emerging.
The Self-Actualization Assessment Scale now gives you a way to evaluate the level that you are living, where you are, what’s your next level, the extent to which you might not be handling your base or meta-needs effectively, where you might be stuck, and how you can get leverage on yourself to more adequately meet your needs. And because you can assess your level and the quality of your need gratification, you can also now zoom in on the very places in your life where your needs may be keeping you stuck.
Now when I say stuck, this stuckness may have nothing to do with any trauma or need for therapy. You and I can get stuck by simply using an old coping style that no longer works. We can get stuck by accidently giving a need some meaning that does not fully and adequately represent the full truth. We can get stuck by semantically over-loading a need or a coping mechanism. And yes, we can also get stuck by giving distorted understandings about the need and ways to gratify it. That’s what usually involves the discipline that we call therapy.
Needs — you and I are needy in our very nature. We are not self-sufficient, we are not invulnerable, we are not omniscient, omnipotent, and we are not infallible. Reading that line, do you feel like throwing a party or checking in at your local psychiatric clinic? If the latter, what expectations have you set about yourself and human life? What non-sense have you inherited about human nature? How long are you going to keep the insanity of thinking you are God? If the former, then congratulations for having fully joined the human race!
Being needy is our heritage, our nature, and our life. It is also the basis for growth, learning, development and self-actualization. After all, if you were omniscient, omnipotent, and infallible you wouldn’t need anything, couldn’t develop, and would not have more potentials to unleash. Being needy at your essence — needing to become fully alive, fully human, fully open, fully developing, fully curious, fully fascinated, fully enjoying life —drives your vitality and energy for the next-level!
Either way—if you are a trying-to-be-God-frustrated-and-deceived human or if you are a fully-alive-and-seeking-to-be-self-actualizing human —there’s hope, there’s solutions, and there’s a self-actualizing future for you. For the first, there’s a Crucible awaiting ready to help you melt now the non-sense of perfectionism and your God-trip so you can be human. For the latter, there’s the adventure of moving to the next-level.