“Even God cannot talk to the hungry man except in terms of bread” (Gandhi)

I am sure we all know that there are certain basic needs that require to be fulfilled in some way or another if we are to be ourselves in the World, and that’s what this article is about. And, in my opinion, you may find during your lifetime that you dip in and out of these. It’s not a matter of ‘you get there and that’s that’ – No, however much we want that to be the case. I am a perfect example of that and I’ll say more at the end of this.

Abraham Maslow

I thought I would use the model of the American Psychologist, and one of the founders of Transpersonal Psychology, Abraham MASLOW who claimed that our basic needs must be at least minimally fulfilled before we can move onto our wants.

Basic Needs

According to Maslow, your physical needs (air, food, drink, shelter, sleep) are the most basic and when these are met, you can use your energies to pursue the next level. For me, when I think about it, this makes a lot of sense, don’t you agree?

I love the saying by Gandhi – “Even God cannot talk to the hungry man except in terms of bread”.

Safety Needs

Then at the next level, you must feel minimally safe and secure in your day-to-day activities, whatever these may be as they are different for each of us. What is being talked about here is that fundamental need of feeling that your life and work are rooted in solid ground. Of course, nowadays with all the changes going on in our country, and the world, that ground can be pretty shaky!!

Social Needs

His view is that you must feel a sense of companionship and affection at the next level. We all need love and have a sense of belonging – some kind of knowing that you are part of a community of some sort, that someone cares, that you are connecting with others. Why do we go out and ‘network’ whether for business or pleasure? We need to feel part of a group of some kind or another – that we are interacting with others. We need to know that our existence is being mirrored back to us!

Esteem Needs

You probably know how your self-esteem can be badly damaged by the lack of recognition and appreciation from others, as well as that lack of acknowledgement of your achievements too.

And you may know that feeling when you waste your time and energy on things you don’t value or even don’t like- you don’t feel good about yourself. I know I can say to myself – ‘Well that was a waste of time for me and all concerned’. I can feel down and not good about myself and wish I’d not bothered!!

If you know that what you are doing and being in life, while engaging in fulfilling and worthwhile activities however large or small, you will feel good about yourself.


At this level, Maslow saw it that you were aligned with your purpose where you’re learning, growing, stretching and using those gifts and talents you have. You will also have an answer to the question – ‘Why do I get up in the morning?” and it might simply be ‘Because I can as I am Alive’. Your potential is there to be expressed in your own unique way, and you are proud of you.

However, Maslow added – “Even if all these needs are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop unless the individual is doing what they are fitted for. Musicians must make music, artist paint, writers write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves. What a person can be, he or she must be. This need we call self-actualisation”.

I really do love you

For me, I see self-actualisation as being comfortable in your own shoes or skin. It is allowing you to be the woman you are comfortable with when you look in the mirror and say, ‘I really do love you’ whether you see joy or pain in her eyes, and ‘I am so proud of you’.

My story

I know for me that Maslow’s ladder of needs made a lot of sense, and then I was in intensive care and nearly died from Bowel Cancer!! The ladder I’d gone up went all to pot, as it were! I had to start all over again very slowly with much toing and froing. It was not an easy time at all, I can assure you.

Yes, I know that was a bit extreme and some of you may lose your job, your marriage, your home, your health even and literally have to start again. Life is not hierarchical – it’s messy and up and down. I would say that is why life is so interesting!!! It has both pain and joy. And you have to expect the unexpected and cope as well as you can.

If you are starting all over again then I know you can and will do it – get up (even eventually) and start again. And that the most important thing is that you have your own love and self-respect when you do begin.

Go Well.

Irene Signature

If you’d like to explore and have conversations on subjects like this, join my new Facebook Group? It’s called SIFITY (Stop It, Fuck It, Thank You) and it’s for those women who are on the road to facing their denial and owning ‘I Am Enough’ x



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