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Sue McRitchie talks…………………………Triangles

Is it strange that we humans appear to like things placed within a diagram to explain difficult information easier?

Of recent months we have become used to a range of graphs and power-point presentations which tell us, what is happening in the world. It might be Covid-19 or the economy or how the weather is doing but most often voice or words are accompanied by pictures.

Most recently we have been introduced to the ‘tiered approach’ to lockdown, a triangle which explains how different areas will be graded depending on the levels of infection and then we will all know what restrictions that area needs to comply to. Simple!

I found myself thinking of another triangle which is often used when assessing an individual’s presentation for therapy. Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ was developed by a psychologist back in the 1950’s and is, I think, surprisingly relevant still.

There are 5 layers to the triangle and the broadest section, at the bottom, is our Physiological Needs. The basics for life including food, water and sleep. The next layer up is Safety and this, not surprisingly, suggests we need security in our housing, our health and our employment. In the middle layer are the needs of Love and Belonging and the penultimate layer speaks of the necessity for self-Esteem,; achievement and respect for self and by others. The pinnacle of the triangle is Self-actualisation and Maslow suggests areas such as creativity, problem-solving, acceptance of facts and lack of prejudice are included in here, amongst others.

As we continue to live our lives in the strange times of autumn 2020 I have found myself reflecting on what an enormous task many are having to face. As a community we are, some would say quite rightly, being asked to consider how we can manage our lives differently, be accepting of the impact of the pandemic and give regard, without prejudice, to, not only our own need, but those of others. All of which is included in that pinnacle of Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. And we are expecting all to conform even those who have had, if not the foundations of their triangle, rocked then certainly what could be seen as the ground floor.

Maslow would see this as a too great demand on an individual’s resources as a human being and would question whether it is possible to work at the pinnacle of our triangle when the base is so challenged and insecure.

Maybe when we feel frustrated with, what we may consider as, irresponsible behaviour, we could give a thought to the instability of some people’s lives. For some, their very foundation of existence has been rocked to the core and life for them will be very frightening and unclear. Remember, whether we realise it or not, we all need stability in order to act at the peak of our own personal triangle.

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