How tired do you feel these days? If you’re like me, you may feel it creeping in more than usual. Yes, its winter, the clocks have changed, we’re still managing and maintaining our lives in such an incredible year, and the ordinary stresses and strains of life still abound. But there is another reason why we feel so incredibly tried. Something which we rarely talk about and may not even fully understand. Let’s talk psychology!
Building Our Pyramids
First of all, we are all human. We come with a certain number of requirements in order to survive, excel and to motivate ourselves. Overtime, psychologists have played around with this idea of what we need. It has grown from the absolute basic elements of food, water, and rest to more intrinsic elements to build on our purpose in life. They are what inspire our human behaviour to become the person we aim to be.
If we go back in our minds to our school days, you may remember learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Does that ring a bell? We can often forget about this simple diagram which simulates what we need as people to thrive and survive. Abraham Maslow was a human behaviourist who came up with a hierarchy to show what we need as humans to be happy and what motivates us to succeed.
When we build our pyramids in the hierarchy of needs, we always start at the bottom and move our way up to the top. Our most basic needs are at the base of the pyramid because they are the needs we cannot ignore in order to survive. They are our Physiological Needs such as food, water, warmth, and rest. Without our physiological needs we can’t move up to the next level. Our Safety Needs are the next step up and involve what we need to feel secure and safe in our lives. Following on from this are our Belonging Needs which are our intimate relationships and friendships. Nearing the top of the pyramid we have our Esteem Needs, those feelings of accomplishment and prestige. Finally, at the very tip of the pyramid sits our Self-Actualisation Needs which include our feelings of self-fulfilment and achievement. I’m sure many of us are struggling to reach the top, and there is a clear reason as to why this is.
Is Your Pyramid A Little Shaky?
I, like so many others, have felt the wobble of my pyramid lately. If your pyramid is feeling a little shaky it is because the external forces at play in our lives this year, have made the foundations a little weak. In order to reach the top of our pyramid we need to meet the needs of each individual step. But how can we navigate our way through each step when those needs are threatened?
In a year perturbed by a pandemic, political unrest, societal injustice, and extreme worry, meeting our absolute basic needs is a task unto itself. We have braced so much in this storm, with all of our strength, that clinging on to even the basic elements of life, our Physiological Needs, has been met with difficulty.
When we look at our Safety Needs, we have lived much of this year under threat. Threat of illness, threat of injustice, threat of our human rights. Meeting our safety needs has been vital in this year but the threat is ever present. It has meant we have cocooned, kept to our bubble, isolated, and suffered loneliness. Our Belonging Needs have not been met or have been drastically limited.
Our pyramids are shaky because we have been met with inordinate challenges this year to reach each step on our hierarchy of needs. This is exhausting as we battle these challenges. Beyond exhausting. It is a tiredness like we have never felt before because we have not encountered such as year as this before. And this, we need to recognise. We may feel as though we should be achieving, getting somewhere, moving on and up, despite the blocks this year puts in front of us. But in truth, we need to make sure our pyramid does not fall down altogether. To keep ourselves on an even keel, approach your pyramid with the mindset of, “Well, what can I manage today?” not, “What should I manage today?”
How to Get to The Top of Your Pyramid?
In all of this, we have fought and pushed and yearned to meet those needs. Despite the year fighting against us, it is in our human nature to attempt to meet our needs. We may not reach the top of our pyramid, but we will most certainly try.
- Be realistic about what you can and can’t achieve this year and next. The Pandemic will not end come 31 December, 2021 will be a year of hope amidst a prevailing crisis.
- Be mindful of the external forces you have no control over. Comfort yourself in knowing it is not from a lack of will or tenacity. And maintain your persistence when those forces eventually ease their influence.
- Let go of rules. This era is not normal, and it has already broken some of our most basic rules in life. Be more flexible and perhaps create a few new guidelines to help navigate the world.
- Remember what is important to you. Our hierarchy of needs are natural human requirements. Maintain the needs which are essential to you such as keeping in contact with friends and family.
- Never stop pursuing your dreams. Get creative in the way you chase those dreams. And reach for the top of your pyramid.