How do you know if you're really getting your needs met?

We all have needs.

Needs are must-have’s for life; neglecting a need is never good and results in dysfunction, decline, and death. When something's a need, we are instinctually motivated to fill it. Certainty and effectiveness in meeting the need increase when we are aware of it as well.

Maslow gave us a model to understand the progress of need emergence; it helps us see how to keep moving forward to fulfill our highest needs to really be all that we are and can become.



To effectively meet these needs, we've got to grow our understanding of them and how to meet them. When the deficiency needs are effectively met, we will experience the following:

  • I have a wide range of emotions and express them appropriately.
  • It is easy for me to ask for help and receive from others when I have needs.
  • I can say “no” to others even when I know it will upset them.
  • I’m adventuresome and I know how to play and have fun.
  • I know I’m not perfect, and I give my loved ones room to disagree.

As the growth needs (top 4 of triangle) emerge, the following outcomes (from Barrett Values; bracketed family applications are mine; also second person referencing) can be experienced:

  • In the face of turbulence and change [ie. the adolescent years], you prioritize culture and values  to become the major source of continuity and coherence, of renewal and sustainability.
  • You imbue the organization [your family] with meaning that inspires today and endures tomorrow.
  • You find an underlying purpose and a strong set of values that serve as a basis for longer-term decisions even in the midst of volatility [all the emotional highs and lows, uncertainty of transitions and direction choices].
  • You find the common purpose and universal values that unite highly diverse people [members of your family] while still permitting individual identities to be expressed and enhanced.
  • Emphasizing purpose and values helps you support and facilitate [your family] into a self-organizing network that can respond quickly to change because members share an understanding of the right thing to do. 

Why center on growth and bring out highest level needs?

Sustained generational life.

The human race will only improve and perpetuate continually when people have their transcendent needs met.

Could this be why Jesus' Beatitudes begin with "Blessed are the poor in spirit"? That the greatest joy and wellness begins with being aware of our highest need - spirit!

Without this awareness, we remain enslaved by distrust, fear, insecurities, addictions, hostility, and dissolutions.

Meeting physiological, safety, belonging, and esteem needs serves the purpose of manifesting our truest and best selves. But why do we (collectively) get stuck spending and being spent pursuing lower levels? I believe the enemy here is pragmatism birthed from mindsets of scarcity.


It's what happens when people become parents who have not experienced a deep shift in their mindsets from scarcity to sufficiency. (Check out this video, especially 5:55 and on.) And most toxic are the unquestioned answers given to unsuspecting minds of young children and youth.

Unexamined, unconscious assumptions that drive unethical, unkind behaviors and cultures. Saw this clearly in a movie I recently watched, "Hidden Figures". 3 African-American women working for NASA in the 60's, who struggled and overcame the cultural challenges of unexamined, unconscious answers, ie. "That's the way it is." The grace with which they overcame was powerful and inspirational. 

It has robbed bazillions of people of their potential wisdom, success, spirituality, courage, compassion, freedom, and transcendence, which in turn has caused the deaths of quadbillions more; not trying to be dramatic but history is wrought with this reality. 

It is a grave error not to prioritize growth towards highest level need fulfillment, for others and ourselves. The growth needs of cognition, aesthetics, self actualization and transcendence are not nice-to-have’s but they are essential to our redemption and maturation, as individuals and as a race. “What a man can be, he must be.”

How common and relevant is this issue of not fulfilling highest needs? Let’s just consider the most common problem that families encounter: relational breakdown - husband and wife, parents and kids, siblings with each other, and of course the big one, parents and teens. Why do these occur? Parents prioritize and pursue career and income to provide for the lowest level needs. In the process of working 50-80 hour weeks, they marginalize and even sacrifice the needs for belonging, love, and esteem - their kids and their own. Attempts are made to make things work but often they fall flat because to solve their dilemmas, they’re using the same scarcity mindset / consciousness  that created the problem. Albert Einstein put it this way, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”

Centering on growth increases intention, attention, and repetition of thoughts and actions to break free from the neglect and ineffective meeting of essential needs (all levels) so that the highest ones will surface and motivate us to be what we can and what we must.