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The Highest Need

By Peter Shepherd

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The first article in this series described Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs, in which the basic survival needs are the first priority, and the needs concerned with man's highest potential follow on when other needs have been met - needs for love and affection, control and self-esteem needs and the need for self-actualization, i.e. to find and fully express one's true self.

There is one further need that Maslow didn't mention. Though he probably intended it to be included as a self-actualization need, really it deserves its own category. This is:

  • The need for a higher truth
    This is the need to make contact with the creative force that is beyond the human personality, to make sense of all the suffering and injustices of the survival struggle on earth. This need has been evident in all cultures, expressed by all religions, and is the spiritual path towards enlightenment, towards knowing God, towards discovering the truth of All That Is.

It is only by having at least a glimmer of this spirituality that we each are part of, that we can aspire to the highest potential of being human. To be able to genuinely love and to forgive unconditionally, we need to see in all others - even our enemies - the same essential quality that we ourselves are part of. Spirituality is a transpersonal quality, it is beyond the ego and obsession with the self. It is the maturity of intuition.

The path of personal transformation is primarily a process of becoming aware of, facing up to and taking responsibility for one's thoughts, feelings and actions, and then expanding this self-realization by communicating with others, retaining integrity whatever the response, and further enhancing the quality of communication with ever-increasing empathy and understanding. Through understanding others better, we can recognize their essential goodwill, however misguided it might have become, and begin to recognize the spirituality of humankind.

 
But first we need to know ourselves better.

The psychologist Nathaniel Branden developed a technique called Sentence Completion, to help his clients uncover and communicate their true feelings, that previously were suppressed. This denial of feelings and true wishes or desires occurs because of fear that acting on them or communicating them will bring scorn or ridicule - in short, will upset the apple cart. But to continue suppressing what one truly wants is to die inside, to lose integrity.

Try completing the following sentences, with as much honesty and frankness as you can muster. Move on to the next one when you have uncovered an awareness that you were previously suppressing. And then put this self-realization into action in your life.

I am a person who ...

One of the things I'd like people to know about me is ...

One of the things I have to do to survive is ...

All my life, I ...

It isn't easy for me to admit ...

Sometimes I feel frustrated when ...

If I didn't care what people thought, I would ...

Ever since I was a child, I ...

One of the things I'd like to be valued and appreciated for is ...

One of the things I wish (people/my partner/my parents) understood about me is ...

One of the things I appreciate about my (partner/friend/family/colleague) is ...

One of the things that first attracted me to my (partner/friend/colleague) was ...

I feel loved and appreciated by my (partner/friend/family/colleague) when ..

I feel especially happy with my (partner/friend/colleague/family) when ...

I feel sexually stimulated by my (partner/friend) when he/she ...

If I were to communicate all this to my (partner/friend/family/colleague) then ...

I am becoming aware that ...

 


Emotional Intelligence - Home Page

Next in the series
'Tools for Emotional Intelligence'

3. The Evolution of Personality


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