~ Abraham Maslow
My husband grew up within a normal family dynamic, full of unity, unconditional love and support. All his needs were met as a child and into adulthood. His family’s love never wavered. This is what should be in every family, yet it isn’t always the case. I like to believe my husband and I provided even better unity and stability for our children. Thus, by using a comparison like Maslow’s Hierarchy (beginning psychology 101), many of my own needs were not fulfilled in the capacity one’s childhood should have been. Therefore, I have compensated much of my needs of childhood, within my adulthood. I find it interesting to think about.
I took a few psychology and sociology classes in college long ago. Yet, something always led me back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Perhaps because it was presented so simplistic, comprehensible and fun to apply. Or, perhaps I wanted to become that one percenter, like Gandhi himself, that established the highest form of self-transcendence. Whatever the reason, it peaked my interest at the time and decades later, never left the back of my mind.
Once the damage of childhood dysfunction has been done, can it ever be completely undone? I personally believe so. I believe it can be compensated to a good extent, and in this case, my family (husband and children) and my friendships are what has helped me.
For those that do not already know the concept. Here is the basic outline:
(Credit of image provided to Wikipedia)
All my physiological and safety needs were met from infancy into childhood; I was fed, bathed, clothed, housed and provided medical attention as needed. My adoptive parents ensured I had such things in abundance. These are basic needs that is considered two major needs within Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to ensure survival.
Maslow also suggests, if there is a break in any of these needs, one cannot progress upward toward self-actualization and into transcendence, until the lower need is completely met. This is where I find his theory most relatable. Maslow also suggested that the first two basic needs must be completely and consistently met within the first five years of life.
Many of us adults who grew up in the era of wooden spoons, coat hangers, belts, etcetera, as forms of discipline from our parents have expressed gratitude for that, as evidenced by social media memes. Some of us crazies feel thankful for having that form of upbringing. My childhood reflected a bit more extremes that I’d prefer to not necessarily get into, but admit it was abusive; physically, verbally, and emotionally. Yet, today I have evolved those detrimental experiences into a form of odd gratitude of my own, as I learned to parent completely different from how I was raised and consider myself a rather awesome parent. 😉
That is where love and belonging swoops in. In my childhood, I never felt I belonged or was wanted. The love my parents proclaimed to have for me screamed conditions within every circumstantial event. As a parent now, I see clearly the impact it had, whereas it is incomprehensible how my parents chose to offer their love. My children are everything to me. I could never stop loving them if they chose wrong. My children are aware of the love my husband and I have for them and exude security and confidence from that.
Esteem for me has two essential definitions: one deriving from wisdom (age)and the other deriving from the previous three areas within the hierarchy. I am on the fence with this one. The reason being is, I have known adult individuals, older than myself, with rather rough pasts, exude levels of confidence and wisdom I can only wish to acquire. I’m unsure how they get by with a level of high self-esteem that exudes wisdom, awesome wisdom and nonconformity to societal dysfunction. These individuals are glued to their personal concept of high worth. How did they learn to do it despite their pasts? Perhaps, experience alone that evolved into wisdom through acceptance is how. It is said only fifty percent of the world has established this concept within themselves.
Yet, as the saying goes, “who knows what occurs behind closed doors”. Are they really who they present themselves to be? Perhaps it is the brain chemical factor of either an incredible concept of self-worth or delusional thinking. You decide.
Maslow also theorized self-actualization and later, self-transcendence. I suspect he transitioned the highest level being self-transcendence as evidenced by the inspiring life of Gandhi himself.
As I have grown older, I’ve learned to accept more and react less. There is a lot of wisdom in that alone. Or, perhaps I am too tired to give a shit about some things. Being less consumed in situations that I know I either should not be a part of or have no control of, has simplified much of my life. Asking myself, “do you really give a shit?” or “will it matter in a year?” does help. It is establishing that consistent mindset, that grows my own contentment and self-worth daily. It is because I am deciding what is important. I am deciding my capabilities, my limitations, my boundaries.
In other words, I am working on this esteem thing right now. If I care for myself, with awareness of my personal space and safety of mind, body, and soul and cultivate relationships as healthy ones; I’ll be well on my way. Will I ever be that one percenter? Even if I am one hundred years old by then? I hope so!
~ Mahatma Gandhi
I agree, thank you Gandhi and Maslow… 🙂