The Basic Needs

relax21Self 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.

Taking Care of Yourself

Self Esteem RelaxationTaking care of yourself is the foundation on which all other pathways to self esteem rest. Without a basic willingness and ability to care for, love, and nurture yourself , it is difficult to achieve a deep or lasting experience of self worth.
Perhaps you had the good fortune to receive the love, acceptance and nurturing from your parents that could provide you with a solid foundation for self esteem as an adult. Presently you are a free of any deep seated feelings of insecurity and your path to self esteem is likely to be simple and short, involving certain changes in attitude habits, and beliefs. For those who have carried a lifelong sense of insecurity, through, the way to self worth involves developing the ability to give yourself what your parents couldn’t. its possible to overcome deficits from your past only by becoming a good parent yourself.

Some Causes of Low Self Esteem

What are some of the childhood circumstances that can lead you to grow up with feelings of insecurity or inadequacy?

1. Overly critical parents: parents who were constantly critical or set impossible high standards of behavior many have left you feelings of guilt; that somehow you could “never be good enough.” As an adult, you will continue to strive for perfection to overcome a long standing sense of inferiority. You may also have a strong tendency toward self criticism.

2. Significant childhood loss: if you were separated from a parent as a result of death or divorce, you may have been left feeling abandoned. You may have grown up with a sense of emptiness and insecurity inside that can be very intensely by losses of significant people in your adult life.

3. Parental abuses: physical and sexual abuse is extreme forms of deprivation. They may leave you with a complex mix of feelings, including inadequacy, insecurity, lack of trust, guild and or rage. Adults who were physically abused as children may become perpetual victims or may themselves develop a hostile posture toward life, victimizing others.

4. Parental alcoholism or drug abuse: much has been written in recent years on the effects of parental alcoholism on children. Chronic drinking or substance abuse creates a chaotic, unreliable family atmosphere in which it is difficult for a child to develop a basic sense of trust or security.

5. Parental neglect: some parents, because they are preoccupied with themselves, their work, or other concerns, simply fail to give their children adequate attention and nurturing. Children left to their own devices often grow up feelings of insecurity, worthless, and lonely. As adults they may have a tendency to discount or neglect their own needs.

6. Parental rejection: even without physical, sexual, or verbal abuse some parents impart a feeling to their children that they are unwanted. This profoundly damaging attitude teaches a child to grow up doubting his or her very right to exist. Such a person has a tendency toward self rejection or self sabotage. It remains possible for adults with such a past to overcome what their parents didn’t give them through learning to love and care for themselves.

7. Parental over protectiveness: the child who is over protected may never learn to trust the world outside of the immediate family and risk independence. As an adult, such a person may feel very insecure and afraid to venture far from a safe person or place.

8. Parental overindulgence: a spoiled child of overindulgent parents is given insufficient exposure to deferred gratification or appropriate limits. As adults such people tend to be bored lack persistence or have difficulty initiating and sustaining individual effort. They tend to expect the world to come to them rather than taking responsibility for creating their own lives.

Self Esteem Builders

There are many pathways to self esteem. it is not something that develops overnight or as a result of any single insight, decision, or modification in your behavior. Self esteem is built gradually through a willingness to work on a number of areas in your life. This post considers – in three parts – a variety of ways to build self esteem.

  • taking care of yourself
  • developing support and intimacy
  • other pathways to self esteem
  • Most important to your self esteem is your willingness and ability to take care of yourself. This means first that you can recognize your basic needs as a human being and then do something about meeting them. Taking care of yourself also involves cultivating a relationship with that part of yourself known as the “inner child.” your inner child is a place inside that is the origin of your needs. it is a playful, spontaneous and creative side of you – yet it also carries any emotional pain, fear or sense of vulnerability you acquired from your childhood. By becoming a good parent to your own inner child now, you can overcome the limitations and deficiencies of your upbringing years ago. a popular saying these days, “it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

    The post taking care of yourself focuses on this theme of taking care of yourself. It begins by enumerating a variety of dysfunctional family situations that can cause low self esteem following this is a discussion of basic human needs to help you identify those needs which are most important to address in your life right now. finally a variety of methods for cultivating a relationship with your inner child are offered. learning to meet your needs – to care for and nurture yourself – is the most fundamental and important thing you can do to build your self esteem.

    the following post is an extension of the previous post. finding support and intimacy in your life is obviously a major part of taking care of yourself. Other people cant give you self esteem, but their support, acceptance, validation, and love can go along way toward reinforcing and strengthening your own self affirmation. This part is divided into four sections. The first addresses the importance of developing a support system. The second presents ten conditions that I feel are critical to genuine intimacy. The third section offers a discussion of interpersonal boundaries. Having boundaries in your relationships is essential both to intimacy and to self esteem. A final section underscores the relevance of assertiveness to self esteem.
    Part 3 presents four additional aspects of self esteem:

  • personal wellness and body image
  • emotional self expression
  • self talk and affirmation for self esteem
  • personal goals and a sense of accomplishment
  • Although these pathways to self esteem are diverse among themselves, they can all be viewed as an extension of the basic idea of taking care of yourself.