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Don’t Scare Maslow’s Mother

July 30, 2021

I few weeks ago I wrote about the fact that I don’t have a favorite color. I titled my post “When Did You Stop Caring?” I didn’t stop to consider the fact that not caring is often a sign of depression, or worse, thoughts of self harm.

I’m fine. I am not in the least considering hurting myself or anyone else. And despite the admittedly provocative title of my previous post, there are many things I DO care about. And care about deeply.

Let’s talk about a man named Abraham Maslow. Maslow was a psychologist, born in in Brooklyn, New York in 1908. Maslow developed something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

I never studied psychology. And while I’ve heard of Maslow, for some reason I always thought Maslow was Russian, not American.

The way the hierarchy works (and remember I’m coming at this from a practical standpoint, not a psychological one) is that you can’t really care about the higher levels if you don’t feel safe at the lower levels.

At our most basic, we all need food, water, warmth, rest. (I’ve also seen a version that lists sex on this lowest level.) Once our most basic needs are met, we can then focus on safety and security. If we are safe and secure, we can start to worry about our psychological needs: friends, relationships, feelings of accomplishment. At the top of the pyramid is self actualization. No one ever really gets there, but that’s what we are striving for.

I’m not sure where color preference fits into this structure. But, I’m pretty sure that it’s closer to the top than the bottom. The same with caring what kind of car I drive. I care about basic transportation, but not much beyond that.

As I look at this list, I realized I care about the basic needs. A lot. I want to be safe and fed and I want my family to be safe and fed. I care a lot about those things. I care about my family and friends. Family more than friends.

What about that blue level? I think that’s where my caring stops. Or at least starts to stop. Feeling accomplished is great. I like it. I enjoy when one of y’all says that my writing has brightened your day or made a difference.

But, what if no one read my scribblings? Would I still write?

Yes. I’m a writer. It’s what we do. But, I write for me first. Like I said I’m not trained in Maslow’s hierarchy. Would writing fit into that self actualization point? Probably not. I know too many frustrated writers.

Anyway, my point is that I DO care. I just don’t care about as much as many people.

The way I knew that my earlier post scared some people was that my dear mother called. She wanted to know if I was okay. She even talked to some other members of the family.

Mental illness is taken very seriously in my extended family. We’ve not lost anyone to suicide, but we’ve seen the signs.

So, Mom, I’m fine. I still don’t have a favorite color. And I probably still rate low on Maslow’s pyramid. But, don’t worry.

I’m fine.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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