Updated: Aug 26
Do you recall learning about Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of human needs?
For humans to have the bandwidth to attend to our top-line social, emotional and psychological needs, such as being better versions of ourselves personally and professionally, he said we first require a level of certainty around our basic survival needs. Basic needs are physical needs like air, food, shelter, and rest. These are followed up by personal safety needs, such as security, finances/ employment, and health – physical and mental. "Higher" needs feed different parts of us -- the parts that need connection and love; growth and learning; accomplishment and esteem; and personal and professional fulfillment. Since the advent of Covid-19, most of us have been paying a lot more attention to our basic needs.
We have had to learn and adapt to make sure we and our families, pets included, have had what we need to SURVIVE. Higher needs felt elusive for awhile, and may even still be getting sidelined.
So let’s hit PAUSE here and peer at Maslow's Pyramid of Needs...
Notice: we have made it this far (and are on the other side of the availability of vaccines).
We know how to stay safe for now. We have new and imperfect home and work routines in play. We are connecting more and more with friends and family and the world at large. We can intentionally ladder back up to our higher needs for personal and professional growth, recognition and esteem, and the pursuit of being our best in this world.
With that said, I am wondering:
How many of us are checking in with ourselves regularly to see how we’re doing emotionally and what we need today and to get us through where we are now? How many of us are minimizing the impact of the changes in our daily lives and just plowing through, head down?
_________________________________________ What do YOU need right now? Check in with yourself. Do you need:
A stress release? Time for or to yourself? More energy and movement? More order? Something to get easier? Connection with others? A good laugh or cry? Comfort? A feeling of accomplishment or contribution? To make progress against a personal or professional project or goal? What is one small action you can take today to get closer to answering these needs and sustain you? When our needs feel overwhelming or impossible to address, we can break them down into smaller pieces and use our creativity and resourcefulness to make what seems impossible possible at some level. And small actions DO make a difference, oftentimes disproportionately so. Answering needs could look like:
A 5-minute walk listening to your favorite music, a podcast or the birds
Taking a class (even virtually) for 30-minutes a week
Family members taking turns with meals and meal-planning
1-minute of silent meditation at the start and end of the day
Getting the sleep you need, no matter what
CAUTION: At times, our “saboteurs” get in the way of our taking these actions, or take the joy or energy out of them. Watch out for self-judgment, guilt, resentment, and rigid black and white thinking as you consider an answer to your needs. For example, if you need time or space to attend to your mental health, you NEED it. Claiming space is not a judgment on you or your family, and not the kind of separation that will scar your children (or spouse). You can start with something as small as claiming 5 minutes in your bedroom with a book or hiding in the bathroom. ;-) Vocalize and act on your needs so they don’t spill out internally and externally in less healthy ways. Fill your cup so you don’t spill your cup. If acting on your needs impacts your family, be sure to share with them what you are doing and why, as appropriate. Ask for support if you need it, and set up structures to ensure you can act on what you need. Finally, be kind to yourself. Remember that your needs ARE needs.