Want vs Need & Maslow's Hierarchy

Wants are NEVER Justifiable. And that is Fucking Fantastic.

We commonly use phrases like

-I don’t need much.

-Do you really need that?

-We would all be so much better off if we realized how little we need.

Elevation of need over want. We swing into gluttony in an attempt to fill a hole left by the deprivation we often revert to, denigrating ourselves and others for “overindulging” our wants because living solely on what we need is correlated with living virtuously.

Needs are worthy via their justification.

Justification means to prove to be right and fair. It carries a strong moral connotation. We look for justice, and seek to bring justice (to justify) into situations where we believe harmful wrongdoing has occurred.

The procurement of a need is seen as a necessary evil.

If someone is inconvenienced, or hurt, or put out by another person obtaining their need, then the benefit outweighs the harm. Death as a result of an unmet need is easily classified as an injustice and therefore unacceptable.

We cannot create that same logic with wants. The lack of justification then inspires a race to bottom when it comes to the practical application of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s outline is a theory of motivation. He was attempting to explain what drives human action and growth. Somewhere along the way, our colloquial understanding of it has largely devolved from a tool that explains our probable motivations based on where we are in our conscious development to a chart that dictates what is essential to survive. Basically, we use it to fuel and justify our survival consciousness.

Now, even if the hierarchy were intended to show us how little we actually require to eek through life and encourage us to do so, there is still a HUGE kink in the logic.

You do only the bare minimum to not die. Why? What is the justification in you prolonging your life?

Your life is NOT Justifiable.

To live according to Maslow’s Hierarchy as if only the most basic needs are important requires that you first be Self Actualized (the highest tier on the pyramid and supposedly the least essential or least primal) in order to care enough about your survival needs to fulfill them.

Actualization is the process of making something real. Self actualization then means to believe yourself to exist. Your valuing (or esteeming if we keep in line with the hierarchy verbiage) existence is then your motivation to do things like eat.

The pyramid turned upside down and spiraled.

There is no reason for you to live. Other than because it is what you WANT.

Of course there are several philosophical viewpoints on that statement. We live because God says so. We live because we chose to incarnate. We live because that’s how biology works. Etc. What all of these arguments ultimately amount to is that our living - initiation and/or perpetuation - is sustained by our value of our life and want to sustain it.

Requiring justification for the energy of want indicates that you believe valuing yourself is not enough reason for you to live.

Requiring justification to experience life is the core idea that you do harm by your sheer existence and need to set it right.

It is no wonder anxiety and trauma loops and depression and dissociation and pelvic dysfunction and low back pain and so many other imbalances are rampant in our society.

It is no wonder you’re consumed with feeling validation from others, looking for them to justify your existence.

Repatterning these maladaptations calls for owning your own value and that process is intricately tied to experiencing the value of Want. No justification needed.

self worth, want vs need, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Image: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, heartsofwater

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