Humanistic Existential Theories

u10a1 Project ??“ Final Paper

Capella University

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Abstract

Humanistic/Existential theories are beneficial to understand in the coaching environment. Individual seeking change in their life, whether it is in their personal or professional life will benefit from a humanistic/existential approach. Teaching individuals to recognize their abilities to create change within themselves to achieve their goals need to have personal goal plans that are customized to meet their needs. Not all individuals have the same process of creating change and understanding their behaviors and patterns can identify the areas in which need to be focused on.
u10a1 Project ??“ Final Paper
The coaching profession works with individuals who desire change either in their personal life or professional life. Seeking change can be challenging though a rewarding experience for individuals who desire change yet are not sure how to go about it. Having a strong understanding of human behavior and needs can assist a coach in guiding clients through their desired change. The Humanistic/Existential theory can benefit individuals in their journey to self-discovery, setting goals, overcoming obstacles, and achieving goals.
In 1943 Abraham Maslow introduced his theory concept of Hierarchy of Needs in his paper ???A theory of Human Motivation??? (Feist & Feist, 2009). Maslow??™s view of motivation consists of Hierarch of Needs, Aesthetic Needs, Cognitive Needs, Neurotic Needs, and Self-Actualization. The Hierarchy of Needs assumes the lower levels have to be relatively satisfied before the higher needs are able to be met. Maslow (1970) listed the needs in their prepotency order: physiological, safety, love and belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization (Feist & Feist, 2009). In order for self-actualization to be achieved all the lower levels must be met though not everyone steps up to the level of self-actualization for one reason or another even when their esteem needs are met.
The physiological needs described in Maslow??™s Hierarchy of Needs includes the basic needs every human being needs, food, water, oxygen, and shelter. Physiological needs are the foundation in which all human beings need satisfied before being able to move to the next level. When individuals are not able to meet their basic needs they become stuck in a search for meeting their basic needs with no other motivations being considered. There are two specific differences in physiological needs from the other needs, the first the needs are the only ones that can be completely satisfied. The second difference is the need is recurring and has to be met on a regular basis.
According to Maslow??™s theory once the physiological needs are satisfied individuals are then motivated by safety needs. Safety needs are considered to be physical security, stability, and protection from threatening forces (Feist & Feist, 2009). The needs for law, order, and
structure are also safety needs (Maslow, 1970). The difference between safety needs and physiological needs are the fact individuals cannot be completely safe from natural disasters and others which cannot be controlled by an individual personally.
Once the first two levels are satisfied individuals become motivated by love and belongingness needs. Love and belongingness also include some aspects of sex and human contact as well as the need to both give and receive love (Maslow, 1970). Individuals desire companionship with others and desire different type of relationships in their life, the desire for human contact is to able to give and receive love. When individuals receive love and attention from an early stage in life they are confident and feel accepted by those who are most important to them in their life. When they are rejected they are not totally devastated and are able to adjust and move forward easier. Individuals who never experience love and belongingness are not able to give what they are unfamiliar with. Maslow??™s belief for individuals who never experience love and belongingness will become desensitized to the value of love.
Esteem needs are self-respect, confidence, competence, and knowledge of how others perceive them. ???Maslow (1970) identified two levels of esteem needs??”reputation and self-esteem (Feist & Feist, 2009)???. Reputation is how the individual is recognized by others whereas self-esteem is the individual??™s personal perception of themselves. Once individual are able to meet their esteem needs, they are close to stepping into the self-actualization level.
As the lower levels have been met individuals may or may not proceed to the next level. In Maslow??™s original concept he assumed all individuals would move to the Self-Actualization needs. Though after observing students who had their lower levels of needs met no all individuals moved to the step of Self-actualization needs. Self-actualization needs consist of self-fulfillment and awareness of their desire to become creative in all aspects of their life.
Maslow described three additional categories to the Maslow??™s Hierarchy of Needs as aesthetic, cognitive, and neurotic. ???The satisfaction of aesthetic and cognitive needs is consistent with psychological health, whereas the deprivation of these two needs results in pathology. Neurotic needs, however, lead to pathology whether or not they are satisfied (Feist & Feist, 2009)???.
???Aesthetic needs are not universal but at least some people in every culture seem to be motivated by the need for beauty and aesthetically pleasing experiences (Maslow, 1967)???. Art is not enjoyable to all and individuals vary on their perception of art. Individuals who have an aesthetic need function best when their environment is peaceful and beautiful. When having to interact in surroundings that are less than desirable by their standard, they become stressed and do not function at full potential.
Cognitive needs are found in individuals who have the desire to solve problems, having to find a solution to everything in their path. Individuals with cognitive needs met function best when they feel their problem solving needs are being used and they are appreciated. When their cognitive needs are threatened all lower needs on the Maslow hierarchy become threatened. ???People can gratify their physiological needs by knowing how to secure food, safety needs by knowing how to build a shelter, love needs by knowing how to relate to people, esteem needs by knowing how to acquire some level of self-confidence, and self-actualization by fully using their cognitive potential (Feist & Feist, 20009)???. ???The satisfaction of conative, aesthetic, and cognitive needs is basic to one??™s physical and psychological health, and their frustration leads to some level of illness. However neurotic needs lead only to stagnation and pathology (Maslow, 1970)???. An individual that seeks power and desires unlimited power will never be satisfied and will constantly demand power. Maslow (1971, p. 34) believed that “it is certainly possible for most of us to be greater than we are in actuality. We all have unused potentialities or not fully developed ones.”
In the coaching profession most individuals who seek services have completed the steps of Maslow??™s Hierarchy of Needs and are on the threshold of Self-Actualization. Maslow (1998) further clarifies: “This business of self -actualization via a commitment to an important job and to worthwhile work could also be said, then, to be the path to human happiness… happiness is an epiphenomenon, a by-product, something not to be sought directly but an indirect reward or virtue. . ..The only happy people I know are the ones who are working well at something they consider important… this was universal truth for all my self-actualizing subjects.
Implementing Maslow??™s Hierarchy of Needs into the coaching profession one must fully understand the concept of self-actualization. According to Maslow (1971), self-actualization is a process of being active in the process, allowing the experience to be selfless and full of concentration. An individual has to make the choice to grow and move towards the growth without fear throughout the day. An individual has to be completely emerged in the process by listening to their inner voice. An individual is fully responsibility for all actions and choices in their life being honest with themselves and others. Making choices and trusting their internal instinct letting go of past fears of failure. Striving to be the best one can be through dedication, hard work, and the ability to accept change as the process moves forward. Understanding the importance of creating an environment which will support and encourage the individual in the process of change to reach self-actualization and aware of the growth choices. Identifying the causes of defenses and finding the strength to give them up in order to move forward. Self-Actualization is not achieved with one step or one moment, but is a continuous process of celebrating each victory that brings the individual closer to their goal.
Michael Ray has taught at Stanford University for the past 29 years and has taught the Personal Creativity in Business course. ???Professor Ray (2004, pp. xx-xxi) explains: “Students who discovered their essential inner resources and the ultimate purpose of their existence found they could do their work and live their lives in ways that contributed to positive change in the world. In order to discover individual higher goals, Professor Ray suggests an exercise called ???The Most Meaningful Thing Exercise???. The exercise asks for an individual to recall a recent most meaningful experience and to visualize the experience. Once the visualization is in action, ask why the experience was so meaningful. Then once the individual has a clear understanding to why it was so meaningful the next question is why it was so meaningful. The last question is to be asked until the individual is able to answer it in one word. ???That word, if you dig below possible negative reasons (such as fear) or external reasons (such as money) that you have for doing something, represents just one quality of your essence, your Self (Ray, 2004)???.
Professor Ray (2004, pp. 13-15) also recommends a series of steps to reach individual highest goals. In a coaching session the steps can be implemented into different sessions as progress is monitored.
1. Go beyond passion and success. Living for the highest goal is radically different from what is normally considered to the highest: reaching success in external terms and having passion for what you do in life. Most of us “sub-optimize,” that is, we go for the short term and transitory. Go beyond these lesser goals to use the gifts of life you have been given.
2. Travel your own path. You can create your path by simply paying attention to your own best performance- the critical incidents in your life- when you feel most your Self, I flow and in tune with the highest goal. Remember the experience of these times, apply what works to new situations and keep improving your path to the highest goal.
3. Live with the highest goal. Because everything in the world is a connected system, you cant beat it, you can only join it. And the best way of joining it is to live with heuristics- generalizations or rules of thumb for learning and discovery. Enliven your journey with the “live-with” – such as Pay Attention, Ask Dumb Questions, See with Your Heart, or Be Ordinary.
4. Find true prosperity. The more you express and experience your highest qualities, the more you are filled with a rich feeling of self-worth, and the wealthier you will become in the truest sense. Find the prosperity that will sustain you through the ups and downs of life and keep increasing, even through difficulties.
5. Turn fears into breakthroughs. When you have the grounding of the highest goal, you can see your fears for what they are. Learn from them, and turn their energy into breakthroughs and opportunities of the most lasting kind.
6. Relate from your heart. I define “compassion” as seeing the highest in your Self first and then seeing the highest in others. If you have a full, rich feeling of self-worth, you have already taken the first step towards having compassion. See others from this perspective, and you begin to change the nature of your relationships for the better and make connections that move you toward the highest goal.
7. Experience synergy in every moment. You can achieve synergy- a much more dynamic state than balance- among the parts of your life by developing organizing structures based on your highest goal and by getting into the flow of intuitive decision-making.
8. Become a generative leader. Generative leaders pass along their experience of the highest goal and ignite creativity in others. Share the fruits of your quest for the highest goal with others, and spread its effects in a beneficial spiral.
In the coaching profession individuals are looking for improvement within their personal or professional life. The humanistic approach is beneficial to individuals seeking change within their life as it helps them identify their own personal needs and if they are being met, identify their obstacles to creating change, and provides a personal guide to them as an individual. Individuals flourish with the ???humanistic, existential, and positive psychology thinkers striking similarities are evident when it comes to the essentials of human flourishing (Dhiman, 2011).

References
Feist & Feist, Theories of Personality, the Edition, 2009, McGraw Hill, Higher Education. New York, N.Y
Dhiman, S. (2011). Personal mastery and authentic leadership. Organization Development Journal, 29(2), 69-83.
John, O. P., Robins, R. W., and Pervin, L., A. (2008). Handbook of Personality. Theory and Research (3rd ed.). Ney York, NY: Guilford Press.
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50, pp. 370.
Maslow, A. (1971). Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York, NY: Harper & Row
Maslow, A. (1998). Maslow on Management, New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and Personality, 2nd. Ed., New York, Harper & Row.
Ray, M. (2004). The Highest Goal: The Secret that Sustains in every Moment. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

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