We all have needs ranging from "basic" needs (food, shelter, clothing) to more complex emotional needs. This was described by Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist in the mid-1900's who is most famous for creating Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
It goes like this:
1. Physiological needs (food, sleep, air)
2. Safety (physical and emotional)
3. Belonging and love (fulfilling relationships)
4. Self-esteem (achievement, respect from others)
5. Self-actualization (morality, creativity, living life to full potential)
These needs are described as a "hierarchy" because the lower level ones must be met before the rest can occur. The final need, self-actualization, does not automatically occur after all other needs are met. It actually takes a lot of work to become a self-actualizer.
But first things first. Many of us are out of balance with our most basic level 1 needs for things like food and sleep. Note that these are the 2 places that true energy comes from in our bodies (stimulants like caffeine are artificial forms of energy). When our body isn't fed, nothing else matters. We become preoccupied with food and in cases of semi-starvation we even become hyperactive as a way to allow our bodies to pursue food. This was best demonstrated in the Minnesota Experiment on Human Starvation.
It's no wonder that those with eating disorders have poor self-esteem (hierarchy need #4). Their lower level needs aren't met – they aren't getting enough or the right balance of food (need #1), thus their physical and emotional safety is compromised (need #2), and the ED has likely disrupted their relationships (need #3). Recovery is necessary (and possible) for these individuals to reach the ultimate need of self-actualization.
It's time to quit shaming ourselves for having needs and desiring for them to be met. We also need to quit glorifying behaviors that result in needs being dismissed (e.g. workaholism, lack of sleep, dieting, etc). Accept that we are all human and share these basic needs.
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