For those of you who don’t know who Maslow is, don’t feel bad; I didn’t either until I went back to school a few years ago and took Business Management and Marketing.
Maslow was a psychologist in the 40’s and developed the Hierarchy of Needs pyramid to demonstrate his theory that people have certain levels of needs and are motivated by these needs. He theorized that a person can not move up the levels without first satisfying the lower level needs.
Marketing firms use the hierarchy of needs as a tool to determine who to market their product or service to. Maslow meant it as a study in human nature and why some people reach their full potential and others don’t. He never meant it as a marketing aid as such.
I immediately equated it with people living in poverty and more recently with people in abusive relationships.
As you can see from the diagram above; primary needs are the very basics of life, air, food, water etc. If a person is thirsty that need will take precedence over any other needs he has until he satisfies his thirst because a person can live much longer without food than they can without water; but if say he is deprived of oxygen, then he would forget his thirst until he satisfied his need for air.
Once the needs on the lowest level are satisfied he then is free to concentrate on the next level of needs. Those are a need for shelter, safety, warmth and clothes.
It isn’t until the 1st two levels of needs are met that the person will then be motivated to satisfy his need for family, friends, and social interaction.
He will become more concerned with being well liked and “fitting in”. That is why many times a homeless person appears to lack pride or seems uninterested in what people think of him, because his focus is on food, shelter and staying warm, not making friends.
The very top level is self-actualization; or reaching a person’s full potential. This does not mean the person is perfect or living an extravagant lifestyle; it simply means the person is the best that they can be.
Self-actualized people are usually;
– accepting of others
– can laugh at themselves but never at someone else’s expense.
– can admit their flaws
– but accept the flaws of others
– lives life to the fullest, wanting to experience each event in every detail, finding joy in the simple things in life, a beautiful sunset, the smell of a rose, or how it smells after it rains in summer.
– is unafraid to voice opinions.
– is not intimidated by someone having a different view than his.
– is very moral and ethical.
– does not exploit others.
– wants to help others.
– sees the silver lining.
– nonconformist, walks to the beat of his own drum.
– is not concerned with fashions and trends.
– values having a few truly meaningful relationships and has no time for shallow friendships.
– lives independent of others for the most part, although he enjoys the company of others he needs and enjoys time alone.
– continuously learning and views life’s challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Maslow believed that only 50 % of the population actually attain the highest level. He believed that if society ensured that a person’s most basic needs were met and if every one was encouraged and appreciated for being themselves almost every one would attain self actualization. Of course there really is no way of “measuring” a person’s self actualization because it is based on the individual person’s talents, intelligence, personality etc. A person could reach their full potential as a janitor, another person might be a scientist or great artist.
Many people never reach the top level because they get “stuck”, perhaps severe poverty as a child has left the person obsessed with always having food in the cupboard and stuck at level 1, child abuse might leave a person stuck at level 3 unable to form deep loving relationships. Or a person can have a set back, lose their job, their home is foreclosed on and they drop down a level or two until they can satisfy those lower level needs again.
Now, I don’t know if I agree totally with Maslow’s theory because I think family especially, is important at all levels but over all I can see how his theory explains a lot about poverty or why women go back to an abuser. The pyramid above is Maslow’s original diagram which has 5 levels.
Over the years since Maslow developed the hierarchy of needs people have tried to improve and expand it by added 2 and 3 more levels to the original, but I see no benefit to complicating matters.
I see the validity of his theory as far as why people get stuck in the cycle of poverty and why women get stuck in the cycle of abuse.
A person who is raised in poverty will probably have a social circle and could reach self actualization if all his needs are met and he feels accepted and appreciated for who he is. Where the problem often lies is with society who criticize and judge any one who is different and as a hole don’t encourage a person towards self actualization. I read a quote somewhere years ago, I won’t have it exactly right I’m sure but it went something like this;
“Put a person in his place often enough eventually he’ll stay there”
A person may suffer a financial crisis and lose every thing but as long as he has the support of close friends and family he may drop to level one or two for a brief period of time but once those needs are met he will quickly work his way back up the level of needs. I credit his quick recovery to believing in himself and that he deserves better which is enhanced by family and friends who believe in him also.
BUT if his needs are not met and he doesn’t have the support of family and friends he will remain on level one. The longer he remains at a lower level the more likely he is to stay there because his self confidence diminishes over time and it becomes a psychological problem.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs backs my theory that if you are proactive and help a person stay in their home and not wait until they are homeless to help them the person has a better chance of recouping from whatever set back they have suffered. I believe our government assistance programs are designed in such a way they keep a person in the cycle of poverty not help them get out. Once a person is homeless and hungry their only thoughts are of how to get food and shelter for that day. It is impossible for them to even entertain the thought of getting a job, it is human nature to take care of your primal needs first, but without a helping hand or a job the person will be stuck at level one or two always struggling to put food on the table.
I’ve always known the effect where I live has on me and my whole outlook on life and I think it is that way for most people, whether they realize it or not. Doesn’t anyone else feel a certain way when they pull in their driveway? If the grass is mowed and the gardens weeded and the front door is a pleasing colour and if it is clean inside you tend to be happy to be home. On the other hand if the grass needs mowing, the paint is pealing, the dog spread the garbage all over the yard and you know there is a pile of dirty dishes in the sink you aren’t as happy to be home, you don’t enjoy your time at home as much and I think those feelings trickle down to your other relationships. Think about it, it might just be me.
The experiences I’ve had over the past 12 years also backs this theory. Lately I have been frustrated with my inability to better my life, its been two years since JC and I split; I have always bounced back and done much better without him in my life. I would work my way up the list quickly and felt motivated to be the best I could be but I had help from my family. Plus I was never as totally broken as I was this last time either and without any emotional or financial help from anyone.
I wake up in the morning, come to the realization that this is my life; it wasn’t a bad dream and fight to drag myself out the door to make enough money to eat. I try to find joy in life and I think because I AM a strong person I have managed to hang on the brink for so long. But there is a constant feeling that at any minute my house of cards will come crashing down. It wouldn’t take much, my truck to break down, me to get sick, losing even one customer could topple me over the edge down to the bottom level. I am feeling desperate to find a place to live but I find the longer I live in the situation I am in the less motivated or the less able I am to do anything to change the situation. A person may come out of a homeless situation but they don’t do it alone, they need a hand up from someone, preferably before they end up homeless.
My cousin has had a difficult time financially lately, she was widowed 10 years ago and has a 15 year old daughter, she has never remarried. Her husband thought he had provided for her. But times are tough and the last few years she has found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Although she has years of banking experience her skills are out dated and after years of job hunting she is working at WalMart for barely over minimum wage. First her internet was cut off, then her gas, she couldn’t sell her condo (it needs some tlc) but was facing the prospect of lose it to the bank. She was at that precarious position of waiting for her cards to come crashing down. But a friend of hers (and her husbands) has come to the rescue and lent her the cash to buy a small house and fix up her condo so she can sell it and get into a financial situation she can afford. Like she said, she knows she is really lucky because she doesn’t know what she would have done if he hadn’t helped her.
She could have ended up living in a little trailer without running water.
A little positive reinforcement, a decent place to live, food, and clothes, is not a whole lot but enough to determine which side of the fence a person falls.
For most of the time JC and I were together he was pretty careful to keep his biological family and I at a safe distance. He had his adoptive mother snow balled but he was never able to really pull it off with his biological mom and siblings. His sister is a “say it like it is, no bull shit, no pretense” kind of person and I like that. I won’t go into details because it is not for me to tell but her marriage broke up, she moved to the downtown east side of Vancouver, was in an abusive relationship and was taken advantage of financially by her abusive boyfriend. Her children disowned her and she was very depressed and living in a tiny one room low rent apartment. JC was the only one in the family to keep in touch with her for a period of time. One day he called me and said she had just called him and was crying because she had no food, he was in Alberta and didn’t know what to do. I had made $200 that day and said I would drive into Vancouver and take her food and smokes. He wrote about it in his blog and said, “So like Carrie to do that”. (But I was such a selfish horrible person) I went and spent 1/2 of what I’d made that day on groceries and 4 packs of smokes and dropped them off to her. I only stayed a few minutes because I didn’t know her and felt she was a bit uncomfortable.
We really didn’t get to know each other until JC and I moved into Ladner which was quite close to Vancouver and then she started taking the bus out to visit us or we would go pick her up. JC started pulling his shit of arranging for her to come in by bus and then not show up to pick her up, she even had to turn around and go back home a couple of times. I figured out which buses she had to take to get within walking distance of our house and would walk up to meet her. With every visit she would stay a little longer and her and I became closer. We were discussing her b/f being abusive and how she kept going back to him when I couldn’t hold it in any more and said I could relate.
Things were getting really bad between JC and I and he had been telling her all kinds of lies about me. Finally she came to me and said, “this is what JC has been telling me, I want to hear your side of the story.” I had no idea he was lying about me and was extremely hurt and couldn’t help wonder what her motive was behind telling me. I told her my version and at first I am sure she didn’t know who to believe but there were some issues that once she heard my side she knew he had been lying because my version made sense and his didn’t add up. She stayed with us for a month and it didn’t take long before saw it with her own eyes and experienced his abuse herself. She was incredulous that I didn’t get enraged at some of the things he did. She would be in tears and I wouldn’t react but I had learned to shut my feelings off.
JC wasn’t contributing to covering the extra cost of her being with us so I started paying her to work for me. It was miraculous how quickly I could see a change in her whole demeanor. Putting in a hard days work, earning her own money and being able to contribute to groceries, and buy her own necessities gave her self confidence and self esteem enough of a boost that she was able to dump her abusive boyfriend.(you don’t realize the how something as simple as buying. Tampax can affect a woman’s self worth, to be able to go and buy it without asking for someone to give you the money is huge. Years ago I needed Tampax and JC and I were supposed to be going grocery shopping. He knew I needed Tampax but was wasting time in the shop. I had gone out several times and hours had passed and now I was in tears. He refused to let me go alone yet refused to leave when I “demanded” we leave. Finally he yelled at me to “use a Fu$& ing rag and shut the F up”. Then I wasn’t grateful enough when I did get them. It was horrible) She felt more attractive because she was doing something physical and could see muscles developing in her arms, plus she was getting male attention from the guys where we picked up. She was tired at night and didn’t need sleeping pills to sleep. She was happier and laughed more, her daughter and her started talking again and she always had some story about work to talk about. I was absolutely amazed at the difference in her in a very short time. I felt bad when her and JC had a falling out and she refused to ever come to the house again, but JC and I split shortly after anyway. I don’t think she has ever looked back and has been on a steady course of self improvement ever since.
It’s not me that made that transformation in her, she had it inside her all along, but she needed someone to facilitate her finding it again. I will be honest, there were times the last thing I wanted was her living with us, I knew we were on the brink of breaking up and I wanted us to have time alone to work on “us” (in hindsight it was all for the best) but I couldn’t bring myself to send her away when I could see how much good it was doing for her to work.
From listening to the stories of women who visit this site emotional and financial abuse are very common with narcissist’s and psychopath’s.
I think JC went to the extreme of abusive and find it hard to not believe he purposely set out to destroy me emotionally and financially the last time he begged me back. For one thing I told him straight up that if I went back to him this time my parents would disown me and cut off any financial or emotional support. He acknowledged that and said this time would be different; all the while knowing he was living with another woman in Alberta and had personal ads in numerous sites and had no intention of ending the communication with the woman in Africa. He eliminated my family support, without a truck and then my phone I lost contact with my friends and my business started to fail. As soon as I was dependent on him and at level two he started refusing to go grocery shopping and his son and I were eating rice for 3 days while he ate his meals out. He even hid the washing machine so I couldn’t do laundry. He reduced me down to level one where all I could do was think about food, my safety, and keeping a roof over my head.
The realization just hit me as I sit here typing. For some reason I hadn’t realized what he had done, not fully.
How evil, how cruel, how inhumane. And then he told me to get out. I think he thought I wouldn’t have any where to go and he would keep me as his punching bag (for a while longer anyway)
That is why I so want to start Ladies With Trucks, and I struggle daily to find the confidence to believe in myself and to do the necessary paper work to get it off the ground. It is so frustrating to not live in a place conducive to feeling motivated and empowered. That is why I want to empower other women; so no one ever feels this way. So maybe some day no woman will ever be reduced to being less than she can be.
No one has a right to break a person’s spirit and every single day I read of another woman who is broken, lost and looking for answers on how to put her life back together.
I haven’t had a phone for 4-5 days, another long story; but mine is being repaired. My most heartfelt apologies to all the women who have cried out here during that time. I have read your comments and am attempting to reply to everyone asap. I have not been ignoring you, I do care, we all care! Hang in there !
Hugs to all