While I’ve written in the past about needing to Re-think How I Prepare My Family, after recently watching a video that touched upon the subject, it dawned on me that we already had the blueprint we needed as preppers to properly prioritize our preparations: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
If you’re unaware, Abraham Maslow was a psychologist that studied human behavior and, from his studying, wrote a paper titled A Theory of Human Motivation that is an essential building block of much of modern psychology. I still remember talking about it in Psych 101 college classes many years ago.
Essentially, Maslow argued that there are layers (or levels) of needs that must be fulfilled–from bottom to top–for humans to be the best person that they can be. Maslow never used a pyramid to describe his theory, but the idea caught on so it’s what we use today.
The pyramid lists the most basic needs at the bottom and moves upward as we go. For example, at the bottom are the physiological needs (e.g., food and water). These needs MUST be fulfilled first, otherwise the rest of the needs won’t even matter. Once a human being has all of their physiological needs met then they can focus on the next layer up: safety and security. The idea continues on until one reaches the top of the pyramid: self-actualization.
It makes sense that we can use this idea to focus our preps as well. Certainly the most basic needs (those needed to stay alive) are found in the first layer. Obviously, we need air, food, water, and sleep to stay alive as a human being. Apparently we need sex as a base level need too… I’m not arguing. Anyway, without these needs being met there’s no point in fulfilling higher level needs because you’re just not going to live to care about them! For example, what good is satisfying the need for friendship if I have nothing to eat? What good is self-esteem if I have no water? Once we have the basics covered and satisfied then we can move up.
So, what’s next? Safety and security, of course. Immediately after the need to keep our bodies functioning is… still the need to keep our bodies alive. In this case, there are many potential threats to our safety, including bodily harm from others, natural disasters, and wars to name a few. This layer also encompasses our general health and even our financial well-being. A lot is covered here. In reality, the bottom two levels of the pyramid are everything we should need to stay alive and live a long life.
There are other needs too, from love and belonging to self esteem and eventually self actualization. The question the is: how does all this relate to prepping exactly? Here’s what I think…
According to Maslow’s hierarchy, this is where we should start our preps. And, if you’re already started, come back to this layer to ENSURE it is well taken care of. I’m not talking about storing a few cases of water and several cans of beans. Far from it.
Not only do you need water storage but a reliable way (or two or three) to procure it, treat it, transport it, and so on. Think about rainwater catchments and wells, large storage tanks (at least 55 gallon drums, sevearl or more), buckets and garden carts to transport it, and so on. Water is absolutely critical to our survival; it’s hard to go overboard with this resource.
With respect to food, you need LOTS of food stored… on the order of several months for starters. Think about what would happen if just one year of crops failed. And I’m not just talking about your garden crops but perhaps nation-wide. Prices would skyrocket, store shelves would be empty, food handout lines may be a mile long. In this case, several months of food doesn’t sound like much at all. You should also have the ability and experience to process it (e.g., from wheat to flour). Although I recently wrote about your Survival Garden Not Getting You Very Far, a sizable garden and perennials are still important as supplements to your stored food; this is especially true with respect to vitamins. Take it even further and consider raising chickens or ducks or whatever strikes your fancy. Learn to hunt and trap. It’s all good.
In essence, this is the vast majority of what prepping is all about… caring for our most basic needs. These needs MUST be planned for accordingly, even before our need for safety and security. Yes, guys, even before firearms!
Safety and Security Needs
Now you can buy your guns. This second layer of needs is in large part why the 2nd amendment exists. We need to feel secure about ourselves, our lives, health, and so on in order to be functioning members of society. If we can’t do that they we can’t fulfill higher level needs.
Remember, however, that this layer is more than just about protection from bodily harm from other people with weapons. It’s also about personal health. As such, you need to not only have food to eat, but a variety of food to eat. You need vitamins and minerals that come from fruits and vegetables. Protein from meats. Multivitamins would be a very good idea here too. Think about an assortment of first aid supplies, your prescription medications, antibiotics, and the like. You can be almost certainly that your body will be under constant attack in a post-collapse situation from bacteria and viruses. You need to give yourself every opportunity to fend them off with proper nutrition and an abundance of medical supplies.
Financial security is found here too. What happens if the SHTF and all of your entire net worth is tied up in your 401K or house? I’ve talked about the Pros and Cons of a Life-Savings in Preps vs 401K before and, while there are benefits to retirement plans, it’s hard to beat preps. Preps you can make here include simple ideas such as saving nickles, keeping small denomination bills, and even purchasing junk silver or gold coins. Certainly, working towards being debt free may be the most important action you can take.
Love and Belonging, Self Esteem, and Self Actualization Needs
In the love and belonging layer we’re talking about our instinctual need to be a part of a larger group, be it a family or community. As much as I thought I wanted to be a lone wolf for a long time, I realize now that this just isn’t feasible. Humans are naturally group members and work best as a team and within a community. The question for you is: who will be a part of your group? Do your members have diverse skills? Is everyone adding preps to the mix or will everyone be sucking you dry? Get these things worked out now to offer the best chance not only for survival but for prosperity.
Self esteem is also important. Each member should feel they have a distinct place in the group. Assigning roles is helpful. Perhaps one person is the group medic, one person addresses security, one is the head cook, and so on. I should state that redundancy is key here too with more than one person able to fill any other person’s role if need be.
Self actualization talks about “being the best that you can be” or something like that. It’s a feeling (or maybe a knowing) that you’re on the right track in your life. That you’ve reached your potential. To me, it’s not that important with respect to survival. If you’ve reached the self esteem needs then you’ve probably done all you can do.