Today’s post will be on something that is timely considering the unprecedented events we’re currently experiencing.

I bring you Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. His theory is that people are motivated by five basic categories of needs, depicted as tiers in a pyramid. First up (across the bottom, and taking up the most real estate…) is the Physiological tier, followed by Safety, then Love and Belonging, then Esteem ― and perched at the top is Self-Actualization.

I’ll go into brief detail about each tier.


This refers to an individual’s ability to drink when they are thirsty and eat when they are hungry. Shelter and clothing are also included in this category.


Once their Physiological needs are met, individuals look to Safety, which can be defined as a functional degree of order, predictability and control in one’s life.

Love and Belonging

Once Physiological and Safety requirements are met, individuals can focus on emotional needs such as feeling loved and finding acceptance and a sense of belonging among others. This category includes romantic relationships as well as ties to friends and family members.


Esteem can be summed up as the desire to feel good about oneself. Maslow breaks this down further. The first component is self-confidence and the second is feeling valued by others.


Sitting at the top of the hierarchy/pyramid is Self-Actualization, which is a sense of fulfillment or living up to one’s potential (through exploring one’s creativity, for example).

What’s important to know is that a need higher up in the pyramid starts emerging when the individual feels they have sufficiently satisfied the needs below. Effectively, what this means is that the need(s) for Love and Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualization cannot be adequately addressed until more basic (but no less important) ones, such as Physiological needs and Safety, are met. Not to say that the desire and willingness to address these needs can’t begin to emerge prior to the previous need(s) being met entirely ― just that it’s unlikely that any individual can self-actualize if they are still struggling to meet their basic needs for survival.

You can perhaps appreciate why I chose to talk about Maslow’s hierarchy/pyramid at this particular moment in time. The sudden unpredictability and reduced sense of control over our daily lives that has recently become our new normal may have us looking lower down the pyramid and focusing on fears that we have, up to now, been mostly able to ignore. (Note: This blog was written in mid-April 2020, when most countries still have “stay at home or shelter” regulations in place and we’re being reminded of the importance of social isolation in daily news reports and social media postings.)

During these unprecedented times, we must as individuals recognize that our individual situations AND our perceptions of our surroundings/environment can play a HUGE role in how we are feeling.

It’s understandable that many people, yourself included, might be having a difficult time dealing with the unpredictability of our current situation. If you’re part of this group, please reach out to friends, parents or other loved ones. Your mental and physical health ARE what’s most important during these times.

Please also remember that others around you may also be struggling with mental health issues that could make it difficult for them to reach out for help. Perhaps they are facing new challenges related to basic needs, such as buying food and covering various monthly payments, that are causing them to withdraw further into themselves. If you haven’t heard from someone in a while, reach out with a text, email or phone call to check in and let them know you are thinking of them and want to know how they are doing. Sharing how we are feeling can help us all feel less isolated, regardless of physical distancing requirements. We are in this together, and together is how we will get through it.

Are you surviving, living the status quo… or are you thriving in the socially isolated world we’re currently living in?

Coaching as a solution

As a personal and professional coach, I will work with you to examine the nature and root cause of limiting beliefs and why you react as you do when processing what you perceive as positive or negative emotions. Then, we’ll investigate and unravel the emotion. Together, we determine what reaction you want to take (that fits with your natural disposition), and we begin the process of reinforcing positive reactions, even in uncomfortable situations.

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