Friday, May 29, 2009

Self Actualization II

This was not supposed to be a two part post but as you know –( if you don’t you should read the first part ) – Brigit brought up some very good questions and I felt that we need it to talk about this subject a little bit more.

The problem with Mr. Maslow is that he’s a westerner.
His belief system is based on a fragmented universe model.
So his pyramid is a reflection of that belief system.

The human needs are seen as separate with no interaction.
Also the needs are depicted as a chain reaction, as a sequence, rather than a simultaneous event.
This is typical of the Western scientific view of the human physiology and anatomy where we treat the body parts as separated entities in contrast with Eastern medicine, where the human body is seen as one integrated system.

The good thing about Maslow’s pyramid is that it shows very graphically the hierarchy of the human needs.
The bad thing is that it doesn’t show the dynamic relations between these needs – how one change or affects the others.

First of all let me point something very important:
Only the first level – physiological – is in the material realm.
The other four levels – safety – love – esteem and self actualization – are in the ideal realm.
That means there is no way around satisfying the material needs other than satisfying them.

The other needs are relative.
Let’s say for example there is a rattle snake behind you.
If you don’t know the snake is there – which is a real threat - you would feel as secure as if there was no snake at all.
But then again you might see a root or a stick and if you mistake it for a snake you will feel insecure - although there is no real threat to you.

When I defected to come to America I had only $50 in my pocket, a pair of jeans, a T shirt and a pair of tennis shoes.
I had to leave behind everything that would be considered security: My family, friends, my job, all material possessions, everything.
Yet, I was not scared about my future in America even though I did not know anybody or anything about America and on top of that I did not speak English.

But here I am stuck in a 9-5 job, paralyzed by fear and I can’t “defect” out of it even if there are no KGB agents with guard dogs and machine guns to stop me.
Funny how the human mind works.
I have convinced myself that the security of a shitty job is better than the unknown of another career or starting my own business, and nothing in the world can get me out of that belief – except of course myself :)

My insecurity is driven by my finances status.
My expenses are unpleasantly close to my earnings.( Too close for comfort :)
There are two ways to change that ratio:

1) Reduce my expenses:
I could rent my hose out and have enough money to pay the mortgage and the rent to an apartment for my family – if you don’t have a house you can consider moving in with your in-laws. (Of course this would be just a temporary move.)
I could sell the house and buy another in a cheaper neighborhood.
Or, refinance my mortgage at a lower interest rate.
(As you can see my only problem is my mortgage since I don’t have any other major debt.)

2) Increase my income.
Do some math tutoring on the side.
Get a part time job.
Start some small enterprise – I have a colleague at work that pulls in about $500 a month by making candles!

Of course there is always the easy way out.
Get my self esteem so high that I would feel secure no matter what my financial status is.

BTW – I am making a big drama case out of my life just as an example for the story’s sake. In reality I am not that desperate or poor as it sounds.
I am actually doing quite well considering this prolonged recession :)
But I always believed that one should not wait till the situation becomes desperate in order to act.
We should act our life not react to our life


Brigit said...

As you've pointed out Maslow's pyramid is heirachial rather than integrated. Your solutions to your 'fear' problem are also one dimentional: 'fix' the physical problem. The solutions you give can create more problems. By extending yourself to make extra income, could rob yourself of other time with your family. Moving could make you feel like a failure, etc. You can however work on the more ideal levels of Maslow's pyramid. You can work on your anxiety, your fear. Or on what self esteem is really all about for you. Or on what really makes you feel safe, or happy, etc.
Working on these aspects of yourself, could actually make you feel better, more dynamic about the actual doing whatever it is you decide on.

C. Om said...

Great stuff!

What you said at the end, "Act our life, not react to life" is the key to self actualization. You already know this, and often the answers are so simple that we overlook them trying to find a more complex solution.

Buddha said...

@Brigit – You miss the alternative to the physical world fix and I quote myself:
“Of course there is always the easy way out.
Get my self esteem so high that I would feel secure no matter what my financial status is.”
The solution that you are talking about is not as easy to put into words due to the infinite complexity of human emotional nature.
I can tell you that increasing your earnings and decreasing your spending will improve your security but I have no idea what is making you emotionally feel unsafe.
But as you pointed out in your previous comment there is a catch 22 between your physical and emotional security and that by bringing one up or down you can change the other one.
So in conclusion; I don’t give advice to people, I just tell you my story and if you can find inspiration in it that is OK but I am not telling anyone what to do with their lives, that is totally up to you.
Sorry I couldn’t be of more help :(

@ C Om – There once was a wise man that said:
“I am that I am”
If only we could understand the profundity of that simple statement.
As you so wisely said – “You already know this, and often the answers are so simple that we overlook them trying to find a more complex solution.”

Talon said...

In a perfect world we wouldn't have to worry about our levels of income...and so we're trapped in this imperfect place trying to attain peace of mind. No matter how good you feel about yourself, it won't buy you food and shelter.