Tag Archives: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

One of the millions…

31 Aug

It’s hard to stay upbeat and positive today when so many Americans – and especially Floridians – are losing their homes, are unemployed (including highly qualified professionals), foraging for work, and finding that the sense of belonging (along the lines of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) is no longer important.Maslow Hierarchy of Needs More and more people are on the bottom rung of the Maslow’s pyramid (at left) – barely able to support the basic essentials of life for themselves and their families.

At this point in my life (over 40), I never thought I’d be where I am today – nor have many of my friends.  In today’s economic downturned times, it seems that single females over 40 are “foraging” more and more to find bits of work, pay their bills, find “decent” supportive friends, and survive!  Hardly the future we had envisioned as youngsters…

I don’t know about you, but when millions of people are struggling to make ends meet with the basic physiological needs in life (food, shelter, clothing) – being nice seems to come second.  It is rare these days to meet friendly salespeople, courteous drivers, happy shoppers, upbeat friends – and I believe that when people are scrambling to pay the next month’s rent or mortgage – people are no longer nice.

I’ve written here in the past about friends, family, colleagues, etc. who say things that are downright ugly and insensitive… and the trend seems to be increasing!  And it doesn’t seem to matter how nice I am – it has little relationship with the behavior that emanates from others.

Have you noticed this too or is it just me?

I feel fortunate to have friends and colleagues around the world who I can turn to using the internet/instant messaging – and who are supportive and genuine.  In Tampa, this doesn’t seem to be the case as people say whatever enters their head first and foremost, and seldom apologize for their verbal diarhhea.  Let me give you a few examples – and then please (PLEASE!) let me know if you’ve found any of the same these days:

– a friend of mine is in a relationship with a male from another country who she met in Florida 6 months ago.  They frequently text each other or talk on the phone and both have a positive outlook on what the future might bring.  Unfortunately for my friend, her closest family member (a married sister) chides her daily and forewarns her (the sister’s words) that a long-distance relationship is unlikely to work out.  There is no science or proof behind the statement, but that never stops the sister from spouting.  Aside from not sharing anything with her sister, do you have any advice?

– my home is in a short sale position (not a positive experience – this will be the subject of a future blog and potentially an ABC news story to expose the shoddy treatment by Bank of America over the past 7 months!) — and someone I considered a friend belabored me on Sunday that I should expect a visit from a sheriff to evict me in a one-hour timeframe when my short sale goes through based on a national scare tactics news story.  My realtor and my lawyers tell me that such an assertion is untrue – which leaves me to wonder, why use “warmongering type tactics” to scare me during an already stressful situation?  What would you say?

– other friends are desperately seeking jobs (anything!) to make ends meet and are told that they are too old for waitressing or bartending jobs (in their 40’s) and cannot land decent work. As formerly self-employed people, they are not eligible for unemployment payments and are having a difficult time finding even menial labor positions.  Invariably, these friends are lectured by other friends and family members (who are employed) that they are simply not trying hard enough to find work.  It is amazing to me how others can cast judgment when their situation is secure.

I guess that “we” are simply one of the millions these days in America – land of opportunity – who are foraging to find a financially sound foundation on which to build our futures.  Some of us had our finances stolen or taken from us through divorce or other mishap, while others have had stretches of lean times (with more to come).  It is a travesty to meet wonderful, energy filled women who have been beaten down by the economy and by societal rejection (not finding a job@) or by so-called friends and partners – to the point that they are barely surviving.

Welcome to being one of the millions – whatever happened to being one in a million (not in this economy!)

Wishing you a good week!


p.s., Time to say thank you again to the wonderful people in my life who truly make a difference:  Dan (my brother), Gerald, Kim, Janet, Alicia, Narmila, Darja, Marion, Mary, Bill, Steve, Bruce (all colleagues and friends) and so many others (sorry if I missed singling you out!)  You all make life worthwhile – thank you for being you!  In this day of unkept promises, self-centeredness and pontification – you all are wonderful exceptions!  You are perfect examples of the friend I hope I am to you.

Survival trumps friendship during a recession…

20 Dec

How many of your friends are struggling in this economy?  Have you noticed that these same friends do more cocooning and are less receptive?  How about you – do you find yourself withdrawing from social occasions when your own finances head south?  Of course if one does not have money to go out, it is obvious that spending will decrease.

Do you think this recession (and its continuation) affects our overall society and friendliness?  Has the sociological effect of the downturn been a consideration by our U.S. congress?  Could our global outlook and our friendship to the world be affected by this economy?

I wondered about many of these questions both professionally (as work has decreased and my own financial situation has worsened) and personally (where friendships seem harder to keep up) – and I finally think I have discovered a link between the economy and friendships in the world.  Read on…

One of the most famous models used to explain human behavior is called

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

In short, how humans behave is influenced first by our physiological needs (food, shelter, clothing and other basics of survival), then by our safety needs (personal safety, job security, medical needs), both of which must be satisfied before the social or other higher-level needs enters the picture. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization or the ideal “nirvana” situation for people whose lower level needs (including social and self-esteem needs) are satisfied.  According to Maslow, the highest achievement any person can do is to reach the top of the pyramid.  (Of course, there is a full school of knowledge and sociology that accompanies this model and ample internet materials about each level – I simply wanted to present the basic premise of the model here.)

Have you noticed a lessening of overall friendliness and friendships during the recession?

I’ve been puzzled by some of the personal interactions with friends and how more and more people seem to be cocooning these days, then it hit me that it may be due to Maslow’s hierarchy.  Here is my theory:

When people are without sustainable income, have lost their jobs/livelihood, or are scrambling to make their mortgage payments (shelter), pay for food or give the essentials to their families – their entire world and survival is affected. Moreover, as a result, wherever they may have been prior to their current situation (i.e., self-actualized or social) – they end up being at the base level of the pyramid.  The same situation happens when the economy forces people to revisit their spending habits when their own job or medical security is affected (level 2).

As such, friendships are the domain of level 3 – social needs – and when people are challenged to succeed in level 1 or to reach level 2, their social needs fall by the wayside.  This recession no doubt will count among its casualties the demise of many, many friendships and relationships.  Not only will these relationships be those that are personal neighbor-to-neighbor type relationships, but rather also global political relationships between nations.  When a country’s people are foraging for work and barely surviving, it is no wonder that their outlook on the world is degraded.

So, consider this – perhaps instead of equally withdrawing from people who withdraw from us due to their own survival needs being first, we should be friendlier and extend our hand with more patience and consideration of their plight.  After all, if they are in basic survival mode, they cannot possibly see their way into putting friends or relationships as a priority.

A few suggestions…

Here are a few ideas of how you (and I) can make a difference in today’s “survival trumps friendship” state of society:

  • Smile and be patient with sales clerks and restaurant service people who seem to be frustrated;
  • Open a door for someone or help someone carry a package that they seem to be struggling to carry;
  • Let someone else have the closer parking spot;
  • Let someone go ahead of you in the grocery line even if they have more than the express line number of items;
  • Pay for a friend’s cup of coffee instead of going Dutch;
  • Give someone a compliment (sincerely);
  • Show understanding when someone is slow at a checkout line or in traffic;
  • Give a homeless person at an intersection a few dollars;
  • Forget that someone cut you off in traffic.

Remember that those who cross your path may not be as fortunate as we might be at the current moment.  For me, when I see someone less off than I am, I consider the phrase “for the grace of God, go I” – because our roles could be reversed if not for good fortune and opportunities I have had.

What do you think?

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and safe weekend ahead!



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