Self esteem : Basic human needs conjures an association with shelter, clothing, food, water, sleep, oxygen, and so on – in other words, what human beings require for their physical survival. It was not until the last few decades that higher-order psychological needs were identified. While not necessary for survival, meeting these needs is essential to your emotional well being and a satisfying adjustment to life. The psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed five levels of human needs, with three levels beyond primary concerns for survival and security. He arranged these levels into a hierarchy as follows:
1. Self actualization needs (fulfillment of your potential in life)
2. Esteem needs (self respect, mastery, a sense of accomplishment)
3. Belongingness and love needs (support and affection from others, intimacy, a sense of belonging)
4. Safety needs (shelter, stable environment)
5. Physiological needs (food, water, sleep, oxygen)
In Maslow’s scheme, taking care of higher level needs is dependent on having satisfied lower level needs. Its difficult to satisfy belongingness and self esteem needs if you’re starving. On a subtler level, its difficult to fulfill your full potential if you’re feeling isolated and alienated for lack of having met needs for love and belongingness. Writing in the sixties, Maslow estimated that the average American satisfied perhaps 90% of physiological needs, 70% of safety needs 50% of love needs, 40% of esteem needs and 10% of the needs for self actualization.
Although Maslow defined self esteem narrowly in terms of a sense of accomplishment and mastery, I believe that self esteem is dependent on recognizing and taking care of all of your needs.