These unsatisfied "interfering needs" tend to be enormous holes or
voids in our development. So, don't expect a quick, easy solution. We
can't eliminate our feelings of inadequacy and basic shame or our
doubts about our lovability with a stroke of magic. However, correct
diagnosis of the problem is important. For example, suppose a student
feels an uncontrollable urge to go out with the opposite sex. If the
basic unmet need is love (and lower needs have been met), the
socializing, if done effectively, is probably the right course of action,
even though dating will certainly interfere for a while with studying. On
the other hand, if the basic unmet need is feeling competent and
having self-esteem, then seeking a mate may be very premature and
a denial of the basic flaws inside, not a solution. For this person,
instead of dating the opposite sex at this time, perhaps he/she should
concentrate on developing meaningful friendships, being very
responsible at work, improving family relationships, and becoming a
good student as a means of feeling successful and adequate. Later,
when this person likes him/herself and feels competent, he/she will be
better prepared for a love relationship.
As illustrated by the above example, finding the solution to the
unmet basic need(s) may take us out of level I. Search chapters 3, 6,
8, 9 and 14 for ways to deal with shame and increase self-esteem.
Chapters 9, 10, &13 are most likely to help with finding love. These
are major self-help projects and important ones but so is becoming a
good student. Consider developing a "positive addiction," described in
chapter 4, as another way of removing barriers to your progress.
Lastly, since anxiety is commonly a barrier to achievement, consider
some kind of relaxation (see chapter 12).
STEP THREE: Satisfy the basic needs in an acceptable way.
Make and carry out plans for correcting the major hurts. Revise as
STEP FOUR: Go back and try the self-improvement project again.
If Maslow's theory is correct and if you have correctly diagnosed
the basic needs and solutions, the self-help efforts should go more
smoothly this time. If not? I'd suggest getting professional advice,
you've made a good effort.
The time involved varies. But considering the scope of the
developmental deficiencies in Maslow's first four levels (feeling
unloved, feeling dependent or inadequate, feeling insecure), it may
take considerable time each day for months to have significant impact.
On the contrary, one might get a friend, develop a meaningful
relationship, and feel much more lovable within a couple of months.