Select Page

Have you ever wondered why your life seems to fall apart when you are hungry, tired, or cold? The answer can be explained through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow created the Hierarchy of Needs to show how our actions are motivated by our needs. As humans, we have basic needs such as the need for food, water, and sleep. Once those are achieved, we can move on to higher level needs such as safety, belongingness, self-esteem, and self-actualization needs. For example, a new mom may have a hard time entering into prayerful meditation because her basic need for sleep is unmet. However, once the new mom gets some much-needed rest, she can resume achieving higher levels of needs. As we move up the levels of needs, we can bring ourselves to become who God created us to be by discovering our vocation, our gifts and talents, and learning to root ourselves in Him

Physiological Needs:

This is the very base of the pyramid. These are our most basic human necessities: food, water, warmth, and rest. Basic needs are needed to survive. If we are lacking in this need, it can be very difficult to think about how to improve a relationship or strengthen our self-esteem. Something to take note of while symptoms like irritability and fatigue are common of depression, they are also common of symptoms of hunger! It is important to be mindful of what is causing our ailments to know the best course of action.

How can this need be met?

  • Reach out to organizations that focus on finding housing such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
  • Take advantage of local food fairs that provide free food such as your local parish’s St. Vincent de Paul, Katy Christian Ministries, or Mamie George.
  • Check with your government for state assistance programs for housing and food.

Safety Needs:

Once we have a place to stay, food to eat, and a bed to sleep in, our next step is making sure the place is secure. An example of a lack of safety would be someone suffering from emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. They may have a place to sleep and a fully stocked fridge, but it is hard to feel safe when the person you are living with is not helping you feel safe. It can also be hard to get a good rest if you hear police sirens go off every night. Common obstacles to safety are domestic violence, neglect, and anything that devalues your dignity. It is important to identify safe relationships, as well as toxic ones.

Here are a few indicators of a toxic relationship

  • Your partner is not supportive of your goals or positive about them.
  • You partner speaks to you with sarcasm, criticism, or hostility.
  • Your partner tries to control who you spend time with or speak to.
  • There is jealousy or resentment in the relationship.
  • There is constant stress in the relationship.
  • Your partner ignores your needs, goes against your wishes or comfort level.


Relationship Needs:

We are social creatures. This need is fulfilled through intimate relationships and friends. First, we are called to love our family members. We are to help get our spouses to heaven through the sacrament of marriage, and we are to teach our children to be saint-like in the journey of parenthood. This is not easy! We need a community of like-minded people to be a support on our journey. We need to support our wider community of friends, neighbors and even strangers just as they are called to support us. By living out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, we can help others in our families and wider communities achieve higher levels of needs too. Christ is an example to us of how to love and serve others by nurturing close relationships and then serving others. Christ invested in twelve men who ended up evangelizing the world. By investing in those who God calls us to love first, our families, we can then serve the wider community. Think of the important relationships in your life. How do they bring you closer to Christ and how do YOU bring them closer to Him?

Esteem Needs:

Esteem needs are the desire to feel prestige and accomplished. Our inner confidence is boosted, and we are recognized for our accomplishments at home, work, or social activities. When was the last time someone shared, they appreciate your hard work at your job? Or your family saying thank you for being present at home? We receive this need in two parts: from others and ourselves. We are filled by others when we receive praise and respect for good deeds, accomplishments, and for simply being ourselves. How is this need filled on our own? We realize that as God’s children, we are made in His image.  By recognizing the gifts and talents given to us by God, we can find an inner sense of esteem that wells up from using our talents for God’s glory. By living out God’s will for our lives, we can take pride in ourselves knowing we are fulfilling our life’s purpose. It is okay to receive praise from others, but it does not replace God’s love for us. This step can be difficult because as Christians, we are told we need to be humble. Humility does not mean you have to lower your self-esteem to praise others. Rather, humility is knowing who you are through the eyes of God which means embracing your God given gifts and talents.


The last need in the pyramid is self-actualization or reaching your full potential. Reaching this need does not mean we are “done” growing. We can always continue to develop and grow. It can mean developing in work or learning to be a better spouse, parent, child, sibling, etc. Our lives are not meant to be static. We are always called to serve the Lord using our gifts and talents. Since God is our creator, the more we follow Him, the more we are able to reach our highest potential.

Knowing where we are on the hierarchy of needs can help simplify self-care. If we are lacking our basic needs, self-care involves eating, sleeping, and finding safety. However, if we are higher up, we may need affirmation, more time in prayer, or time with family and friends. The more we reflect on our needs, the easier it becomes to get those needs met. As we grow in asking for help fulfilling our specific needs, we allow God and our community to nurture us. Take time to reflect on what your needs, and think about who can help you fill these needs. By getting your needs met, you are becoming more of the man or woman God is calling you to be, so take a step closer to reaching your full potential.