A common issue that leads people to seek therapy is lack of motivation, but what I usually find is that lack of motivation is not the only issue, but something underlying that is getting in the way. Let’s explore!
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory surrounding motivation. It explains the needs we have as humans as well as their order of importance. This concept explains that until certain needs are met, other needs or goals will not be able to be achieved in life. The needs identified in this theory in order are:
- physiological needs (food, shelter, sleep, reproduction)
- safety needs (personal security, employment, health)
- love and belonging (friendship, family, intimacy)
- esteem (respect, self esteem, status, freedom)
- self-actualization (desire to become the best you can be).
This theory explains that there are core needs that must be met before we can move on to the next levels of achievements in life.
Life is not easy and can often be overwhelming, and our brains have very clever ways to protect us from this chaos and the hierarchy of needs is one way. This is an important concept to discuss because it helps to explain why people who are struggling in their personal lives may struggle with schoolwork, chores, their employment, and more.
For example: If someone is experiencing homelessness, they may not be as able to focus on work, similarly, if a child is living in an environment where they are not given love and affection, they may struggle with schoolwork. Before we judge others or ourselves, take time to consider what these people may be experiencing in other areas of their lives.
Before you begin to question your motivation, it may be helpful to look at this diagram. Are all of your basic needs being met? Are there issues in your relationships that may be taking precedence? Many people tend to be hard on themselves, they tend to shame themselves for struggling with certain tasks but what if there is a biological process that is keeping them from completing tasks or reaching goals? It is my hope that this brief article will help individuals to be a little kinder to themselves, to give themselves a bit of a break, and to realize that there may be things outside of their control impacting their level of motivation.
For a visual of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, click here!
Amy Shaw, MSW, RSW
B. Skinner Coaching & Psychotherapy