Primordial Survival Systems: Understanding Change
Greatest Fear

Needs Hierarchy and the relationship with change

-Karthik Gurumurthy

It wouldn't be simple to figure out how to manage the system if it was the only system. In addition to the survival system, humans have a built-in seeking system. Abraham Maslow introduce a hierarchy of human needs in 1943 in his work of theory of human motivation. At the base of the pyramid of needs, Maslow listed physiological needs that encompass food, shelter, sleep, or anything else that we might need for our bodies to function correctly. These needs are followed by safety needs. Safety includes both emotional and physical aspects. Safety is a domain of the survival system. Since it's so close to the base, it's critical to our well-being. We wouldn't be able to progress through the pyramid without making sure we're safe first. As we move through the Maslow's hierarchy, we visit the layer of love and belonging, esteem, and finally reach self-actualization, which tops the list. We satisfy self-actualization by figuring out our purpose. The purpose looks different for different people. Fortunately or unfortunately, we're not born with a manual. So we have to figure out what we're meant to do through discovery and exploration. For this exact reason, we have a built-in seeking system to help us look for change, which equals discovery. It's a paradox of human condition. We are wired to interpret changes and threat and also seek it out. Jaak Panksepp led the research in the domain of affective neuroscience. He discovered seven primary emotional systems, which include the seeking in a survival system. When the seeking system is activated and we follow up on the urge, our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is linked to pleasure. The more we explore, the more pleasure we feel. This explains why learning and experimentation make us feel motivated and zestful. The seeking system was a stark contrast of the survival system. Both systems play two very distinct roles. Their relationship is what makes our relationship with change so complicated.


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