This week we have talked about the attributes of fully evolved human beings and how some of our athletes demonstrate many of the qualities that combine towards them becoming “fully actualised” – the development and discovery of the true self.
Maslow considered human needs, and with these needs having been met one can journey towards a state of being at one with oneself.
The basic human needs, as far as Maslow was concerned, are physiological.
These include – air, food, water, sex, sleep, shelter, warmth.
The next stage is safety. In order for people to flourish, they might need protection from the elements, security, order, law, family, good health – stability.
The third stage of need is love and belonging. Here we need positive relationships, work collegiality, friendships and intimacy.
The fourth progression of need is esteem: confidence, self-esteem, respect of others, respect by others, achievement and independence.
The final part of the triangle or pyramid of need is self-actualisation. This includes realising personal potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth, creativity, acceptance, morality and spontaneity.
There’s an added part to Maslow’s theory which is about being self-transcendent, whereby a fully evolved person seeks to go further in the development of themselves; to experience an intimacy and oneness beyond themselves.
Interestingly, when you look at diagrams of Maslow’s Triangle of a Hierarchy of Need, this final section isn’t mentioned; partly because it goes beyond need but also because it is difficult to comprehend what this transcendence actually is.
Whilst we all aim to live in a positive and enlightened way, there are times when we can trip up, fall down and wonder whether we will ever be capable of being fully evolved. But, we shouldn’t necessarily see this as failure.
The attributes listed in our previous posts are immense, and if we consider them, if we are at the very least aware of their existence, then it’s something that we can use within our lives as an aspiration – a guide to our journey through life.
However, life isn’t simple. Our lives are constantly changing, often to the good, and sometimes our perceptions of change challenge us, and make us feel bereft. In such situations, it’s difficult to keep on that path of self-knowledge and self-actualisation.
If we return to the basic needs, as outlined by Maslow, we can see where problems may occur.
If our basic human needs are not being met then it’s far more difficult to take our steps towards full realisation.
Imagine a house. You can’t start working on the second storey of a house if the foundations haven’t been laid. Once the house is built, if you remove the bricks from any part of the property, then the house may tumble. If the roof of the house is fractured in any way, damage can seep in to the storeys below.
Imagine that well-known game of Jenga. We have a tower of strength but the removal of one tiny component can bring the entire structure into a mess of wooden blocks, all dis-joined and not working together any longer.
In our lives we can have moments when we really feel we know ourselves. We have all the basic, safety, belonging and esteem layers in place and we are moving on in a creative, spontaneous way knowing ourselves and respecting others. We may feel that wonderment of oneness at precisely the same time another person close to you feels oneness too. We may be at a peak where we feel that we can transcend into something even greater, and suddenly something happens that threatens our existence and our wellbeing.
Arguably, the fully evolved person should be able to withstand such devastating obstacles, but sometimes it isn’t that easy.
Sometimes, we need to be kind to ourselves, recognise hardship and eventually pick ourselves up once more to rediscover ourselves and rebuild the relationships within our lives that enable us to be who we are.
So who is ever fully evolved?
In the teaching profession, you sometimes come across people who think they are excellent at their job. They are completely capable and recognise their worth as enablers of learning. This is good. This is an expression of self-knowledge, yet to rest with this idea could cause stagnation. A really good teacher knows that the learning is ceaseless and they can always improve their practice, minute by minute as they learn from their experiences and the experiences of others. To announce that you are the finished article might be a little premature.
In the same manner, can we ever truly say that we are fully evolved, for in saying so are we actually proving the exact opposite?
What we can aspire to is a knowledge of ourselves, and be honest with ourselves in knowing where and when we need to travel in a certain direction, do certain things and rebuild, if necessary from a different point.
We should be mindful of the attributes that Maslow mentions but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we sometimes slip away from the path, especially if our needs are not being met – either through no fault of our own or by our own unfortunate behaviour.
What we can all do is consider our needs, the needs of others and hope that we can work towards the peak of evolvement, recognising that there may be many different paths that we might have to take in order to reach our destination.
And once we have reached our destination, perhaps we should consider whether we have really reached it after all. Is there really a destination – or is life in fact a continuing journey?