Maslow’s hierarchy of needs provides a good model for showing us where something is missing for us, or lacks support. However, the pyramid model and the insistence on a hierarchy doesn’t sit right with me and never has. If you accept that our “higher” growth aspirations of self-actualisation and transcendence can only be built upon the more basic “deficiency” needs of safety and security then you create a ladder for yourself to climb up with an inbuilt judgement for failure.
This conceptualisation of the model effectively tells people: “you’re not allowed to belong until you have achieved these basic steps”. In today’s world — where home ownership and job security are not guaranteed, where pandemic happens — this can seem like a Sisyphean task and may cause more distress than it heals.
I prefer to posit Maslow as a pie chart (see the featured image). Not only does this give us a more holistic sense of what is needed to make us feel well rounded, it also acknowledges the truth that some of these needs may gain and lose support at various or repeated times in our lives, either because of unwanted change or because of shifts in our own priorities.