The Beatles weren’t too far wrong when they insisted in their 1960s song that ‘all you need is love’. As a matter of fact, this is exactly what the humanistic psychologist, Abraham Maslow, suggested to us a little earlier, in the 1940s. Indeed, one of the most basic needs —perhaps the most decisive— is to feel truly loved.
Unfortunately, if you didn’t experience this feeling early in life, it’s extremely difficult to subsequently develop healthy self-esteem. Feeling appreciated, respected, cared for, and valued makes it easier for you to climb the pyramid of needs that Maslow developed which was a milestone in the field of human motivation.
Only when you feel surrounded by genuine love can you achieve self-realization. Moreover, only self-realized people are capable of offering enriching and healthy affection. It’s the kind of love whose components are none other than empathy, respect, and unconditional affection.
Love is a transforming force that every human being needs to receive from family, friends, partners, etc. Receiving it and knowing how to offer it transforms us into self-realized people.
Remember, all you need is love
Abraham Maslow’s pyramid or hierarchy of human needs had 5 steps. These needs ranged from the most basic, such as physical, security, and protection needs, to those related to belonging, self-esteem, and self-realization. It’s easy to overlook where love lies in his theory.
Most assume that this dimension resides in the third step, the one that refers to belonging. However, according to Abraham Maslow, love is a basic need that drives all human development. For example, babies need it to feel fed, protected, and cared for and, as adults, we need the affection of our loved ones if we want to enjoy good physical and psychological health.
As Maslow explained in his book, Toward a Psychology of Being (1962), love is a basic psychological requirement that we need to be able to develop other capacities, such as self-esteem and self-realization. Feeling and knowing that we’re loved prevents us from experiencing neurotic feelings, reduces our fears, and makes us more confident people.
People are good by nature. Give them love, affection and security, and they’ll give you love in return and feel secure in their feelings and behavior.
Love is a fundamental element
All you need is love. However, if you didn’t receive it from your family, you can get it from others. For instance, friends can provide an extraordinary network of affection and validation, just like your partner. Therefore, an unhappy childhood without solid attachments doesn’t have to determine your life.
You can still achieve self-realization if you’re motivated, and love will always act as a great inner force. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. It’s a deep and enriching emotional state, based on selfless care. You can get it from many figures in your environment.
Remember that a part of your evolution as a human being requires that you develop and find healthy, meaningful, and happy relationships. When you find those friends and partners who make you truly happy, many of your needs will be met.
Self-actualized people are skillful in emotional matters
Abraham Maslow wrote a chapter in his book, Religions, Values & Peak-Experiences that discussed love in healthy people. His description and analysis were a breakthrough for positive psychology and relationships. He pointed out that self-realized men and women don’t exhibit selfish behavior. Nor do they seek to flatter or dominate others.
People who know who they are and who work every day to be a little better know what healthy love consists of. Enriching affection is based on empathy and respect, and one must be able to receive it, care for it and, above all, offer it. This point was extremely important for Abraham Maslow. Because, as he explained, whoever knows how to give and receive love avoids the pain of loneliness.
“We must understand love; we must be able to teach it, to create it, to predict it, or else the world is lost to hostility and to suspicion.”
All you need is love: keep looking for it
All you need is good love, the one that doesn’t hurt and lets you be who you want. Look for people who urge you to be a better person. No matter what past experiences and disappointments you’ve had, the experience of feeling loved and loving will always be worthwhile.
Nevertheless, don’t focus all your resources on finding your soulmate or a partner who makes you happy. Look for love in all its possible forms and don’t forget to thank the people who are already part of your life. Indeed, your friends, your children, your family, and even your pets are inexhaustible sources of nurturing and luminous affection.
The best things in life are always free, but you have to know how to appreciate them. Love, care, let yourself be loved, and only allow the most genuine affection to inspire you on the journey of life. That’s what the true meaning of life is all about.
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