This is how self-realization works

How can you grow beyond yourself and develop further? How do you live your dreams and goals? Maslow's hierarchy of needs offers insight into our basic needs and shows what we still lack for self-realization.

Mavie editorial team15/11/2023


Self-realization is often postponed

Self-actualization is often seen as something you have to be able to achieve. Everyone knows the thought: "I can't concern myself with my dreams and wishes right now, I have to take care of a thousand other things first." Behind this lies a weighting of our needs, which the renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow presented in the form of a pyramid.

Overview: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs gives us an overview of our basic needs. Maslow calls the first four levels of the pyramid “deficit needs” – this is about survival. Specifically, this refers to our desire for security, social relationships, satiety and thirst quenching. Only at the highest level of the pyramid does the “growth motive” come into play – self-realization. Maslow says: If deficit needs are not met, both body and soul suffer. Therefore, it is important that we strive to satisfy these basic needs as best we can. You can only fully live out your growth needs when your basic needs are met.
Important: Maslow's hierarchy of needs does not apply to all cultures because it is based on Western-centered individualism.

The 5 levels of our needs in detail

Here is a brief description of the individual points to help you carry out a self-check and fully exploit your own potential.

Level 1: Physiological needs

These included the basic needs necessary for human survival: food and drink, sleep, hygiene and toilet, oxygen, protection from the weather. For homeless people, basic physiological needs remain partially or completely unfulfilled.

Level 2: Security needs

Once basic needs are met, people strive for security. The focus is on physical, mental, financial and social security. This level of Maslow's pyramid is all about the desire for housing, work and health. Important keywords are stability and order as well as protection. The desire to be protected by a stronger person is also one of the security needs. Maslow also assumes that people prefer the known to the unknown. People long to be able to understand and explain everything.

Stage 3: Social needs

If the first two levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs are well covered, we strive for social bonds: partnership, communication, social exchange, community (family, friendship). For example, if a relationship ends, we try to close the gap with a new social bond. The more social needs are met, the more we can focus on the fourth level of the pyramid.

Level 4: Individual needs

As the name suggests, these needs are very individual. For some people, power, status and recognition are essential, others want to achieve freedom, trust or appreciation.

Stage 5: Self-realization

Level 5 is the top of the hierarchy of needs. According to Maslow, our pursuit of self-actualization is paramount. In order for us to succeed in this, the wishes and needs of the lower levels must be met. The question of meaning is at the forefront of self-realization. We strive to give meaning to our lives – the development of our personality, our abilities and our creativity.

Check: Where am I?

It's worth doing a self-check and thinking about which level of the needs pyramid you're mostly at. Which needs are already met and which are not yet? What need do you want to fulfill next and how can you achieve it? Can I do it alone or do I need support? What will be different for me after the need is met?

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