You’ve got to survive before you can thrive.

This was the advice a midwife gave me as I left the hospital with a newborn baby nearly 5 years ago. I can’t even remember the exact saying but I understood the meaning and it gave me much hope in the first few days, weeks and months of being a new parent.


Over the last few weeks I’ve found the idea of survive vs thrive popping up quite frequently. 


With Melbourne and Regional Victoria being locked down because of Covid lots of people feel like they are stuck in survival mode. 


It's hard to ‘thrive’ when you can’t leave your house for more than an hour or you can’t hang out with your loved ones. 


This survival mode makes sense if you understand Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I first heard about this from my therapist and it really shed some light on why I was feeling the way I was so I thought I’d share it today.


Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was an American Psychologist, who 1943 first published his theory identifying the five basic human needs


Physiological (air, water, food)

Safety (shelter, clothes, routine, familiarity)

Belonging and love (affection; connection to family, friends, and colleagues)

Esteem (self-respect and respect from others, high evaluation of oneself, achievement, reputation/prestige)

Self-actualisation (self-growth, actualising one’s innate potential)


All of these needs are considered basic human needs (or neurotic needs as Maslow called them).


ALL of them. 


When we can’t meet these needs then we start to see problems and tension arise.


What I found so shocking when I first learnt about Maslow's pyramid was how far down the pyramid I was! I had my Physiological Needs covered but when it came to Safety, I really struggled to say I felt safe (at the time, we had just gone into Lock down 0.1 and I was on Job Seeker for the first time in my life - I was feeling pretty vulnerable to say the least). 


I was wondering why I felt so restless and uneasy about life and this was why. I didn’t realise that I wasn’t meeting some of the most basic needs you require to be a human!! 


I’m grateful that since then I’ve been slowly moving up the pyramid. Like a game you have to clear the level before you can do the next one. Understanding this made me realise I had my priorities all out of whack. Working through the pyramid will ultimately lead to self-actualisation but it's important to make sure you cover all the other needs on the way.


While everyone is trying to be cool about the lock in and doing their best to ‘survive’ I wanted to to point out that Covid has really put a hurdle in the Love and Belonging zone! Not being able to connect with our loved ones right now means we are not meeting one of our core needs. 


People feel like they are surviving and not thriving because all of their needs are not being met.


I really hope this makes you feel better rather than worse. I’ve always felt that understanding why things work to be helpful. It's a tough time. And if you're not in a lock down right now, then good for you! I hope you still found some value in this Pyramid like I did!


“Human life will never be understood unless its highest aspirations are taken into account. Growth, self-actualization, the striving toward health, the quest for identity and autonomy, the yearning for excellence (and other ways of phrasing the striving "upward") must by now be accepted beyond question as a widespread and perhaps universal human tendency …” 
(Maslow, 1954, Motivation and Personality,  pp.xii-xiii)
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