The Masks of Tarot | The Alchemy of Human Needs

What follows is a little technique – okay, a big, telling technique – that you can use to uncover the reasons and methods behind the choices you make and the routines that you use. Why should you care? Well, if you are continually failing to get the results that you want, perhaps the way you make the decisions that lead to those perceived failures is the root of the challenge. If you are regularly bathing in success, let’s find out why and make it a consistent and conscious process!

In my book The Masks of Tarot, an entire chapter is devoted to Dr. Abraham Maslow’s then-groundbreaking research on human motivation. His exploration became classically known as the Hierarchy of Needs, and it eventually contained eight structured essentials:

1.  Physiological Needs

2.  Safety Needs

3.  Belonging, Love, and Affection Needs

4.  Esteem Needs

5.  Need to Know and Understand

6.  Aesthetic Needs

7.   Self-Actualization

8.  Transcendence

Dr. Maslow’s concept is usually depicted as a triangle, with physiological needs (the bare minimum you need to survive) serving as the base, and transcendence (helping others to achieve self-actualization or that state of being above or beyond the human experience) being the apex :

Dr. Sigmund Freud believed that the fundamental needs of a person were simply to avoid pain and seek pleasure. I agree. However, it soon became abundantly clear that, other than the gut-reactions of warding off trouble and questing for joy, our human conditions and mental energy constantly evolve, cycle, and shift.

From this realization and coalescing of ideas, I created The Alchemy of Human Needs; an expanded concept that allows me to demonstrate how a person’s various eight needs (pain/pleasure, control, self, giving, esteem, belonging/love, adventure, and divine selfishness) relate to and mix with each other. Again, The Alchemy of Human Needs is constructed around the belief that our needs, wants, and desires are subject to constant change, and transfer from one need to another happens as easily as a person’s role in life shifts, bends, and deepens. As you can easily see, this is a very alchemical approach to things.

For me, human motivations (our needs) are not stagnate (something that is presumed and naturally happens with the traditional pyramid structure, or, at the very least, the pyramidal structure pre-determines a set order of things), but that they literally orbit around, and so encompass an individual’s desire to gain pleasure and avoid pain (the one constant); each rotating need being present within a person, but one finally taking priority over another depending on the particular mask that is donned at the given time or task that is being accomplished.

The Alchemy of Human Needs model can be visualized like this:]


So how can you put The Alchemy of Human Needs to immediate and compelling use right now?

Take a piece of paper and find something to write with. Then, find some quiet time to really contemplate the eight items from The Alchemy of Human Needs, and place them in order from your most driving or compelling need (listed as number one) to your least motivating need (listed as number eight).

In my book, I recommend thinking of your number one need, and asking yourself, for example, “what is driving, inspiring and causing me to act right now? Is it a need for control? A need for esteem?”

After you come up with need number one, keep going through the list of remaining needs until you have your own personal ranking of essential wants.

1. ___________________________________

2. ___________________________________

3. ___________________________________

4. ___________________________________

5. ___________________________________

6. ___________________________________

7. ___________________________________

8. ___________________________________

Only after you are done filling out your list, take some additional time and think back throughout your life. See if your needs have modified as you have matured. Look at your needs “at home” compared against your needs “at work.” Are they different? Likely so.

This entire exercise is designed to focus your reflection and appreciation of the way you make life decisions. It will also help you see the decision patterns in your life and, with that awakening, give you the power to make new choices or bolster old, robust courses of action. Once you discover what motivates your choices and decision, you will become conscious of the success patterns that should be fostered. Likewise, once your uncover what truly drives your life selections, you can determine whether those motivating forces need to be changed.

Just some thoughts. Enjoy.

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© 2011 by Scott Grossberg. All Rights Reserved.

1 thought on “The Masks of Tarot | The Alchemy of Human Needs

  1. Love your use of Maslow and how you have developed your own system. In nursing, we studied different nursing theorists and begin with Maslow, as his hierarchy of needs are used as a foundation to understanding human behavior. Keep on amazing us with your thoughts and processes, it keeps us stimulated with ways of seeing ourselves and others!

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