Maslow and Your Self Esteem Needs

In this article, I introduce you to Abraham Maslow’s philosophy and his work, which I believe can be a good starting point to building your self esteem and confidence. I hope you find this one helpful!

Abraham Maslow and Self Esteem

On this page I will take a look at what Maslow said about self esteem and how it fits into our general needs. Abraham Maslow is famous for his “Hierarchy of Needs” and as we will see, this also shows how important he believed self esteem to be. In my opinion, though, it is even more important than he showed.

First, here is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs drawn out so you can better understand it:

Maslow's Hierarchy

The most basic needs are at the bottom and include some of the basic needs of your body. These are fairly obvious needs without which your health will quickly suffer. We all know how demoralizing failing health can be and how this can affect us both physically and mentally. Maslow argued that after you acquire these most basic physiological needs you seek those on the next level. The next level of needs are those which involve security and your feeling safe. These are indeed very significant needs, which depend on many factors.

The next level up includes your needs revolving around your sense of love and belonging. Now, in Maslow’s opinion when you have your basic bodily needs, feel secure and have a sense of belonging and expression of love you will then go after your esteem needs.

What Are Maslow’s Esteem Needs?

According to Maslow we are now looking at our higher needs and that we will only look for these after we have the more important basic needs first. Esteem needs include how confident you feel, your sense of achievement and worth. It is all part of healthy self esteem to seek to be aware of your own self identity and how much respect you think you have from others. As explained Maslow described these needs as something you seek when you were lucky enough to have satisfied the more basic needs.

Once these esteem needs are met we move onto self actualisation needs. These represent the actual realisation of your true potential and your goals and aspirations in life. Here, Maslow lists needs such as acceptance of reality and facts, creativity and morality amongst others. The idea is that once you build a healthy level of self esteem you can move on to achieving and self improvement.

Did Maslow Get It Right?

I personally don’t think he did. Many of these ideas are good but I think it is much too simple a view and the reality is more complicated than this. In terms of self esteem I believe it is far more important than he gives credit for and that it is more closely related to many of your more basic needs. I will argue that self esteem is so central to all we do in our lives that it should be lower down in this diagram. If we believe Maslow, in previous times when people were poorer and lacked many of their basic physiological needs, self esteem should have been quite irrelevant as they would have been more concerned with eating and keeping alive and healthy. Is that true?

I believe that self esteem has always been important. I think it is a very basic need as so much is based on how we feel about ourselves, don’t you agree?

Take the basic needs that Maslow talks about. If you have low self esteem you may neglect healthy eating and fill yourself with junk food because you don’t care about your personal needs much. In fact, low self esteem may cause you to neglect many of your basic needs which we need to satisfy constantly.

I would also like to point out that in today’s world a high level of self esteem is very helpful in many areas of life. Take seeking employment as an example. Nowadays, it is harder than ever to get a job and keep it. Self esteem will help you be more confident and present yourself better which will enable you to stand out amongst applicants for a job. Once you get a job (security need) you need to be able to relate with others at work and communicate effectively or you may risk losing it or failing to get promotion. It is true that employment and the nature of the work you do will affect your self esteem but it is also true that a healthy self esteem will help you find a better job and be satisfied in it.

Your security needs may be dependent on your self esteem in other areas. If you are confident and strong mentally you will be able to protect yourself better from threats to your personal security. Many sexual predators for example prey on those they see as weak and vulnerable. Being strong inside demands a good level of confidence and esteem for sure. This is what, in my opinion, makes Maslow’s hierarchy of needs far too simplistic and does not consider the different realities that happen to all of us in life.

One other point I want to make is motivation. Self esteem is a vital part of your own self motivation and without a sense of your own self worth your motivation will be severely limited. Without motivation it is difficult to do anything or take even the most simple steps in order to meet your more basic needs.

The world we live in is very competitive and requires you to be proactive and ask or reach out for what you want, or else others will ignore you. Self esteem is a vital tool in your weaponry of life. Though it is a good starting point, I don’t believe Maslow has given this enough emphasis in his hierarchy of needs.