I Will Survive

maslowphysiologyLast week I discussed how our lizard brains operate solely at the bottom level of Maslow’s hierarchy, yet send us fear and survival messages all the way up the pyramid. In other words, our lizard brains see a threat to our self-esteem as equal to a threat to our physical life. No air is just as critical as no respect, at least in the lizard brain world.

The good news is that 99% of the people reading this post don’t need to worry about meeting their physiological needs. Consider the following questions:

Do you currently have enough air, water, food, and shelter?

Are you likely to have enough air, water, food, and shelter tomorrow?

Is there any chance that you will not have enough air, water, food, and shelter any time in the next month, season, or year?

I bet your answers to those questions are yes, yes, and no. Now, I’m not saying that you have nothing to worry about. I AM saying that your needs on the bottom of the pyramid are being met adequately.

There are members of our society who operate at the level of this pyramid. They eat food given to them by charities, sleep in shelters, and wear the castoff clothes of other people. I myself support Love Wins, a community dedicated to serving the homeless and at-risk populations in Raleigh. I encourage everyone who can to support a program that serves those who struggle to meet their needs at the bottom of the pyramid.

So do you have any fears that sit right here at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy? I’m not talking about fear of being attacked, or being burgled, or hurt. This is the most basic fear: fear of loss of life. Most people aren’t actually afraid of this: they are afraid of a chain reaction.

People are fearful that the protections they have in place against death will be stolen. We fear the loss of our money, the loss of our family and community support, the loss of our basic health. These things are our defenses against a daily struggle to find food and water. And they are on the next level of the pyramid. Stay tuned for a discussion about fear v. security next Monday!

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