MASLOW’s pyramid of NEEDS (Level 1)


PREVIOUS: Maslow’s Pyramid (Intro #2)




Original PYRAMID
started with 5 levels, but later in life added 3 others (future posts)

Level 1. PHYSICAL Needs
a. Homeostasis : biological compounds that maintain an internal, biological balance, such as appropriate concentrations of salt, sugar & water in the blood. If any one of these is ‘off’, we have an urge to eat foods that bring these levels back into balance

b. Non-homeostatic : essential for survival of the organism, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, breathing, sex, environments that allows for a constant body temperature, a good working environment…… If any one is missing or deprived, it will immediately get the highest priority

Both categories are deeply rooted in biology. So if someone is stripped of material possessions & psychological identity (like in jail or at war), physical needs will be the main push behind all actions, with a constant search for places to provide them

All basic needs have to be continually replenished throughout life. 🤑 At a large bike rally held near a Wal-Mart, employees noticed that when temperatures went above 88º, beer sales went down & water sales went up.

EXP: FOOD Pyramid
USDA’s pyramid is outdated & has been replaced by Dr. Walter Willett et al, at the Harvard School of Public Heath. It’s explained in  Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, which gives the scientific basis for each of the Healthy Eating Pyramid’s building blocks, based on the best science available. It’s considered the right balance of 50% carbs, 15% protein & 25% fats, which can prevent some diseases & prolong life. (ALSO…)

🍎  😴  🔥 😛
♦ EXCEPTIONS – In real life, Maslow’s hierarchy doesn’t always follow his fixed order : 
Physiological & Safety needs are of the body (Level 1 & 2).
• Levels often combine out of order, so when resources are scarce, it’s possible to compensate by getting a higher level Need met instead.
EXP: If there’s not enough food, or living conditions are unsafe, “Love/ Belonging can help a great deal (#3 over 1 & 2) – as in Dolly Parton’s childhood, memorialized in “Coat of Many Colors

b. Love/acceptance & Esteem are needs of the ego (#3 & 4).
Although Self-esteem first comes from being loved unconditional, later – it comes from succeeding at activities that are hard but doable.
Also, Esteem can pair with Safety – to be able to take risks, to fail, to look foolish…. (2 & 3)
In general, people tend to deal with food & safety needs appropriately. Re. food – we move toward things that satisfy hunger, or when very scared, we run away or fight. (FFF)

However, contrary to Levels 1 & 2, combined Love & Esteem needs (#3 & 4) can drive actions that make things worse.
– Those who get love become more lovable. But not enough  love will make people jealous, possessive, or otherwise undesirable, leading to more deprivation
– Those who succeed become more successful. But trying & failing at too many things or at one thing too often, makes people fearful & dejected, which lowers their performance, further undermining self-confidence, eroding success

Another difference between points a. & b. (body vs ego) is that, as adults, we can meet Levels 1 & 2 needs more or less on our own, but we look to others for Love & Esteem (#3 & 4) – yet chasing people down for those needs drives them away

And in some cases a need might be completely absent: “Some people who have been deprived of love in early childhood (Belonging) may experience the permanent loss of love needs”, leading to severe isolation or withdrawal.

c. Basic needs can combine with Transcendent, Spiritual soul needs:
Once each year Muslims celebrate the Holy month of Ramadan (#8 – added version), when they don’t eat or drink anything from dawn to dusk (#1) while still having to be productive in their daily lives.

🔥 ACoAs – We think / feel that we’re starving for love & approval (#3) – & we are! – but sadly, we carry a deep injunction against being loved – as if wanting it is a character defect.
And our WIC is convinced we can’t love anyone. NOT true, but for us, Safety (2) is more important than Love (3). So, many of us are stuck at #2, because our family denied & distorted all levels, leaving us terrified – in deprivation mode. Recovery is about providing as much of #1 & 2 as we can, in order to Heal & Grow.

NEXT: Level 2


MASLOW’s pyramid of NEEDS – Intro (Part 2)

PREVIOUS: Maslow – Part 1

Normally, using the hierarchy model encourages a tendency by some to regard others models as challenging rivals who are either superior – to be feared, resented, or boot-licked, & admired, OR inferior – to be scorned, humiliated & dominated (Maslow, 1943a, p. 402). But it was not his intention to supersede or be superior – it was mainly used as a logical framework to understand human motivation.

T.E.A.: The Pyramid of Needs does not refer to intelligence levels or talent. Instead, it’s about the never-ending process in life of making our potential a reality – living to the fullest, without the limitations & toxic thinking we grew up with. It’s about learning to trust our own judgment (T) & our inner feelings (E), & acting accordingly (A).

Maslow identified the first 4 levels – physical, security, social & esteem – as deficiency needs (D), which have to do with deprivation – basic things that have to be attended to or provided. Satisfying them avoids unpleasant feelings &/or consequences.
The highest one deals with growth needs – later called BEING-needs (B), which is not about a lack of something, but a desire to improve oneself. He made happiness & self-fulfillment (Level 5 – & much later ‘Trancendence’) a central part of his life’s work – convinced that following our personal instincts leads to more accurate decisions about what’s truly right for us.

As one grows further up thru the stages, each need becomes less about survival, & more about emotional issues. We have the opportunity to trust ourselves….. to trust that we’re safe now, so we can step outside our self-limiting ‘protective’ shell.

Idealistically, at first he believed that we all want to move up thru the Levels toward self-actualization – the highest achievement – an expression of the True Self, but eventually understood that not everyone is interested in or willing to try. Also, knowing that progress is often disrupted, he realized very few are able to become fully self-actualized

• While the pyramid levels may seem logical & straightforward, in practice moving up the ladder is a complex, life-long process. It’s rarely smooth, often thwarted by:
– getting stuck in the lower levels if the needs can’t be met, or because the person won’t risk moving up
– society only rewards motivation based on social needs such as love & esteem
– unpredictable ups-&-downs of life can keep someone constantly fluctuating between levels

• He also recognize that not everyone follows the same pattern in working their way up to the top. EXP: Someone may need self-esteem more than security….

In relatively ‘normal’ families (healthier than ours), the first 4 levels are meant to help children develop the capacity to make good life choices. This went seriously off track for us, so we need to go back to the beginning – applying what we’ve learned as adults to correct distorted beliefs, replacing them with compassion & the right info – to better take care of ourselves & to connect with others.

INFORMATION wanted at each level
• at #1 (physical) we want coping info, to meet basic needs. Anything that doesn’t directly relate to quickly providing survival & sustenance is simply ignored
• at #2 (safety) we need helping info, looking for ways that others can make us feel safe & secure
• at #3 (love & belonging) we want enlightening info, often found in books, classes…. on relationship development
• at #4 (esteem) we look for empowering info – how our ego can be developed
• at #5 (Self-A), we want edifying info – which includes cognitive, aesthetic & transcendence – so we can connect to something beyond ourselves, and to learn how we can help others.  (Norwood – 1999)

Since Maslow’s Pyramid (1940-50s), there have been many other ways to classify personality traits / dimensions (Enneagram, MBTI, the Big Five, D.I.S.C., Holland Code, Burton…..),  & E.R.G. Theory by C.P. Alderfer, who compressed Maslow into 3 categories. Note differences between I vs E needs.  (CHART- combined)  ↓↑


NEXT: Level 1

MASLOW’s pyramid of NEEDS – Intro (Part 1)


PREVIOUS: Dealing with Difficult People

SITE: ‘Unmet Human Needs’

NEED  – A psychological feature that arouses any organism to move toward a goal, giving purpose & direction to behavior.

NEEDS motivate human actions. They’re normal, made up of all the elements required for developing a safe, stable & healthy life. Having an accurate & sufficient amount of them fulfilled is imperative, since a deficiency will have severe consequences: dysfunction or premature death

Having needs can be said to represent the ‘costs of being human’. People who don’t have enough of them met (a ‘needy’ person) will function poorly in society. Feelings / emotions indicate whether or not our needs are being met & to what degree – so they’re neither good nor bad, right nor wrong – just very necessary 🙄

EXP: Sexuality is used everywhere in our culture to sell goods & services, by stirring a desire for things we may or may not need. This works because sex is one of our basic instinctual needs, so we react automatically, unconsciously.

WANTS – Desires, wishes or aspirations are not vital – things that must be earned. This is not to say we shouldn’t have wants. The desire to have someone or something good is part instinctive & healthy, & part personal taste – something to strive for that adds pleasure to our life

DEMANDS –  People can get into trouble when they demand to have their wants met – without contributing anything towards getting them. Being demanding come from neediness & a sense of injustice.

We had every right to demand / expect that our family provide normal human needs when we were young – but had little control about getting them. For many of us it was done poorly or barely at all, which created a sense of desperation that can trigger the compulsion to demand that others make up those deficits.

However, as adults it’s not legitimate to expect & demand that other adults fill the empty hole in our emotional/ psychological gut – which is our responsibility to provide. Nor is it ‘sane’ to demand something from a person who absolutely doesn’t have it to give.

HAPPINESS – The Pyramid of needs is one of the best-known theories of motivation. Inspired by the work of Carl Jung & humanistic psychologist Erich Fromm, Brooklyn-born American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) believed that the urge for self-actualization is deeply entrenched in the human psyche, so that the desire for happiness is equally worthy of attention, but is usually based on more basic needs being met first.
He felt that a great personal (non-spiritual) tragedy for many is dying without ever knowing who they really could have been – their True Self. (Maslow’s life & writing)

This Hierarchy points out the possibility of growing intentionally – to develop our unique identity & skills, & using them creatively to benefit ourselves & the world. Maslow was dissatisfied with the 2 main theories of his time – Freud’s psychoanalysis which dealt with mental illness, & Skinner’s behaviorism which reduced humans to mindless machines or animals.

He wanted to identify mental health & happiness, not just to focus on misery. So he studied positive human characteristics, looking at the lives of outstanding people such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass, Albert Einstein & Jane Addams (the ‘mother’ of Social Work)…..

Synthesizing piles of research re. human motivation (the inner drive to get what we need), Maslow created his Needs pyramid in 1954. He concluded that when our basic physical needs are satisfied, other higher ones can be recognized & worked on, & once those are met, even higher needs can become our focus. The assumption was that people first have to be on a solid foundation – providing the Deficiencies (Level 1 -3), before they can work on Growth.

NEXT: Maslow’s Pyramid #2

DEALING with Difficult People



PREVIOUS: Difficult types #2

 SITE: How to deal with each type



TRUTHS to REMEMBER about Difficults:

😽 We may be able to put a dent in their behavior with positive reinforcement – but it doesn’t work on everyone. The best we can do in any situation is to set firm boundaries – let them know you won’t tolerate their attitude & bad behavior.

▷ Their behavior is habitual, so they behave this way with most people. Think of others who’ve had a hard life but not become difficult

▷ Don’t take their behavior personally! Their negative patterns are their False Self

▷ Do NOT make excuses for their behavior. You lose your power when you do that

▷ Don’t fight back. Don’t try to appease them. It won’t work because they have an insatiable appetite for more – drama, cruelty, isolation, arrogance …..

▷ Don’t try to beat them at their own game. They’ve been practicing their skills for a long time, & you’re a beginner by comparison

▷ NEVER try to change the difficult person. You can’t change anyone else, only your reactions to their behavior. By changing your responses, they may decide to change….. but usually not. However, you will feel better.

Some Options – Handle them by:

• Avoiding • Circumventing • Confronting • Discouraging • Exposing • Identifying • Ignoring • Informing • Isolating • Neutralizing • Predicting • Rehabilitating


• Act normally
When dealing with difficult people, it’s important to be yours normal self – maybe even slightly better. It won’t help to people-please, try to control them or get angry

• Communicate well
It’s often best to let the difficult one talk , but know how to ask relevant questions & then give them lots of room to answer. If possible, propose another point of view. See beyond the label & try to understand where they’re coming from. If it’s consistently unreasonable, don’t try to get through to them!

Control Emotional Responses
Never lose your temper or shout at them. Being quiet & centered has a greater effect. Volatile or negative people often respond better when others are positive.
This may be hard to do consistently because they can get to us, but it’s worth the effort – to make our day more pleasant & maybe give them a break from their misery 😇

• Get direction from others
If necessary, consult someone you trust to talk over the situation or the personality type you’re dealing with – to get feedback, guidance or just important validation for your observations & solutions

• Get down to the core issue
Try to find out what the real issue is that’s causing a problem(if possible) & then address that rather than how it’s being presented

• Meditate
Take time out to quiet yourself in whatever way works for you. If the situation is pushing a button in you, comfort the Inner Child, identifying what’s causing your anxiety or rage, & explain current reality & your options

• Remember the numbers
Studies remind us that mental health plays a major role in maintaining physical health
Negative people are more affected by stressful situations & are more prone to illness

• Respect the person
No one likes to be treated disrespectfully. The more considerate we are toward difficult people, the better they react. A version on the Golden Rule is: “Give respect, expect respect.”

• Stand back
Sometimes it’s best to ignore bad behavior, to be able to have perspective, especially if you know the other person is ‘dangerous’ or under severe stress.
NEVER take their behavior personally!

Take a stand
Other times it’s necessary to speak up on your own behalf, to calmly say what is acceptable to you & what is not. Understand your realistic options & develop one or more strategies based on that. Take actions & persevere.


DIFFICULT People – Types (Part 2)

PREVIOUS: Difficult people – #1

SITE: Why being kindhearted attracts Toxic People

Some STYLES (cont.)

Narcissists : (one of the most D.P.) they assume everything is about them, nothing is their fault, the world owes them, & they can do no wrong. However – narcissists come in several shades of puce. They can be the ones who take everything personally, slipping into abandonment & self-hate mode

Over-reactors : emotional bleeders who are mortally wounded by any helpful suggestion for improvement, any hint at the need for a correction or change, or just looking at them the wrong way…. forcing everyone around them to walk on eggshells

Paranoids : assume they’re always in some kind of danger. Being distrustful, they’re constantly suspicious of other people & their motives, interpreting it all as being aimed against themselves

Passive-aggressives : (see posts) They’re mostly big phonies – hiding upset emotions by pretending everything’s okay. However, their true feelings will show by sabotaging their own life or the activities of others, or sneakily getting revenge

Pessimists : (see posts) believe they have no control over anything, but also that no one with power can be trusted. They think in B & W, & assuming the worst, they undermine morale at every opportunity

Psychopaths : (see posts), defined as “a pattern of disregard for, & violation of, the rights of others”. They can hide in plain sight because they’re good at faking ‘normal’, and because most people don’t want to believe someone they’re around can be so awful

Subtle Snipers : experts at pot shots & sneak attacks, they use mean humor, a sarcastic tone – especially if saying something ‘nice’, disapproving looks, innuendos (implied insult)…. but deny it all

Tanks: aggressive, with in-your-face verbal & physical behavior – their goal is to overpower everyone at all cost: “I win/you lose!” They never back down, & expect others to either run away or attack back

Think they know it all : addicted to showing off, they have a knack for b.s, but don’t actually know what they’re talking about. OR, they learn just enough about a subject to sound like an expert, which can fool some people, some of the time – all to get some attention

Yes people : trying to please everyone & avoid confrontation, they agree without thinking things through. Reacting to the latest demand on their time, they over-commit, ignoring prior commitments, and never have time for themselves. Then become resentful

No people : disguised as a mild-mannered normal person, they fight to hang on to futility, hopelessness & despair, killing momentum & creating constant friction. More powerful than hope, they’re deadly for morale, able to defeat good ideas with a single syllable

Maybe ones: consumed by indecision, they get lost in analyzing things to death, but never take action. They procrastinate, hoping a better choice will come along, but they wait too long & miss out. And, unwilling to risk hurting or upsetting anyone, they say nothing at all

Nothing ones : they afraid to contribute to any conversation. No verbal OR nonverbal feedback. Nothing. They’re especially dangerous if they “Say Yes – but actually mean – Do No”

Silent ones – timid people who retreat into a shell to avoid conflict & responsibility. They may not be obviously difficult, but leave a hole in their environment. They get away with not talking because most people are uncomfortable with silence, too quick to fill in the gaps for them
Silent ones may be true introverts, needing quiet to process or concentrate – or to shut out an uncomfortable/painful home or work environment. They’re not a D.P. but still can make some people wary or uncomfortable

NEXT: How to deal with….

DIFFICULT People – Types (Part 1)

PREVIOUS: Difficult People – Intro

SITE:  Humans are naturally Selfish

LOOKING at OURSELVES – just for a minute 😊
If we consider someone to be difficult – it may be that:
💧 our 2 personalities clash – which we can’t change or fix. It just is.
💧 we can be the difficult one, rubbing others the wrong way
💧 we misunderstand their behavior
💧 they are indeed difficult, but trigger something old in us

Since everyone brings preconceived ideas & issues to every situation, we tend to interpret observations of & interactions with others thru our personal lens – ‘glasses’ that are not always wiped clean. AND, much of the time we have no idea what’s really behind someone’s ‘weird’ style, yet we unconsciously fill in the blanks with wrong assumptions

Being disruptive in whatever environment they’re in, D.P. push buttons in others – especially those who have to deal with them for a long time. It’s very wearing.
What upsets you may only be irritating or neutral to ‘the next guy’.

So it’s truly empowering to figure out & deal with what sets us off, those buttons our family installed & are now stuck in the WIC. Fortunately we can understand the root cause of our reactions, instead of being confused, & feeling tapped by them.

It’s a 2-parter:
• identifying our strengths, skills & preferences, as well as the old wounds that get triggered
• learning about each D.P. type & their antidotes
EXP of buttons: Being accused wrongly, treated as unimportant or invisible, having your ideas or work usurped by someone else, talked to as if you’re stupid or incompetent ….

We can ASK :
• What emotional tornado does this D.P. set off in me? (terror, rage, desperation….)
• What do I do in reaction? (fight, isolate, rat on them…..)
• How does my D.P. deal with my reactions?

• Am I the difficult person triggering others to react badly
• How do others handle my carrying on or withdrawing?
• Do I just keep reacting to the D.P. in my life, OR am I diligently working to find better ways to manage myself & others?

 👞 💼 👡 👜

Complainers : fearful, with little faith in themselves or others, they assume the world is hostile. They’ll make a general complaint about something & then walk away without being specific. Nothing ever works out for them, & their constant discouragement can make others feel despairing too

Controllers / Dictators : they’re compulsive micro-managers, acting like they know best how to do – everything. They don’t want anyone to be different – it’s their way or the highway. The show a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity,” & can be vindictive when challenged

Cranky : easily irritated – about even the smallest frustration, it’s indirect anger at the world for not providing their needs. For some it’s deliberate, to help them get their way. For others, crankiness is a true reflection of being needy

Critics : they find fault with everything & everyone, but are not interested in solving problems or improve situations. They won’t lift a finger to help, but are the first to point one

Grenades : after a brief period of calm, the grenade explodes into unfocused ranting & raving about things that have nothing to do with present circumstances – but you never know when they’ll blow

Know-it-alls: they’re very knowledgeable & competent, but give long monologues with detailed, arrogant arguments to bolster their opinions. The goal is to eliminate any opposition by finding flaws or weaknesses that will discredit other points of view

Liars : most people lie a little, sometimes. But compulsive liars embellish or make up reality even when it’s just not necessary. They think it’s the only way to protect their vulnerable under-belly.  It insures that they’re unreliable, frustrating any kind of closeness

NEXT: More Types #2

DIFFICULT People – Intro


PREVIOUS: Introvert Children


SITEs:  How to Tell if You Are Self Absorbed





As ACoAs, as kids – we had no choice but to become enmeshed with our specific set of Difficult People, brainwashed into accepting their messages without question and ignore the damage it did to us. We were at their mercy, & rarely if ever did we get help to cope with them, or learn how to protect ourselves in healthy ways.

So, it’s imperative to identify & acknowledge what & who we have to deal with, instead of questioning our observation of dysfunction, or denying them completely.

Difficult people (D.P.) are manipulative, controlling & bratty – with most people, most of the time – functioning from defenses developed in response to a damaging background. Internally conflicted, their patterns are usually unconscious. Dedicated D.P. don’t like it when they can’t play out their shtick (pattern), or are called out on their negativity. When they don’t get what they want from one person or environment, they move on to the next innocent sucker.

DON’T IGNORE the red flags:
a. They rarely have empathy for others, &
b. Are always angry OR always miserable
While most people have one or more of the following characteristics – some of the time, in some circumstances – negative personality traits & attitudes of D. P. are entrenched, in the form of personality disorders (More….)

1. It’s all about them = They’re narcissistically opinionated, needing to be the center of attention. Dramatic & fueled by reactions from others – their life is like a soap opera. Asking “How are you?” will open a can of worms, & a story will turn into a novel

2. They’re Victims = They’ve never gotten over trauma – stuck in the past, telling & re-telling stories of pain, failures & guilt. They’ll reel you in by using illnesses, family & tragedy – as a manipulation to make you feel sorry for them

3. They never do a favor without collecting = They’re always scheming to get something for nothing – self-serving, with no shame or compassion. If they do you a favor – you’re going to pay for it, big time. They’ll keep reminding you of what they did & what you owe, even though you’ve also helped them in the past. But admitting that would not serve their interest

4. They’re oblivious = They’re have no idea what’s going on in reality – living in a world only they understand. They’re not dreamers & trailblazers, but rather in deep denial – undependable & irresponsible. They’re so vague it’s hard to have a serious conversation with them

5. They blame, gossip & whine = If they’re gossiping with you about others, they’ll do the same about you. They blame others for their troubles & whine to get attention. They complain about everyone – to you – but put on a big smile for the ones they just trashed.  (modified from

They’re some combination of :  • arrogant • disrespectful  • negative  • passive-aggressive  • pot-stirring  • selfish  • unmotivated & lazy • disregarding common decency or rules  • not responsible for their behavior

SIGNS of a Toxic Person (the more of these the more toxic)
NOTE – toxic people are not all overt in their treatment of others – like the bully & tanks. Some do it by withholding or being sneaky, but all have a harmful effect on others:

• Only what they think, feel & want matters
• They’re critical, controlling & never consider anyone else’s (your) needs
• They act like they’re fabulous & never make mistakes (perfect)
• The angry ones don’t care about your feelings & like to see you suffer
• They drag up your past & won’t let you be different from them
• They dominate conversations, & leave no room for you
• They spread gloom, & keep disappointing you

• Nothing you say or do is ever good enough
• They violate your boundaries, & never respect your ‘no’
• When you’re around them you walk on eggshells
• You ‘check out’ or ignore your own values
• They make fun of even the smallest actual or imagined flaw
• They leave you feeling guilty & ashamed of who you are
• They leave you wounded = feeling battered, bruised & torn apart

NEXT: Difficult types #1