Life Skills

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Understanding values requires us to understand their relationship to needs. Animals act on instinct, preprogrammed how to respond by nature; people act on free will, choosing for themselves how to respond. Our choices are based on values, which are beliefs about what is important in life. A primary function of values is to meet needs. According to Abraham Maslow (1954), people have physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs. These needs are reflected in such values as “survival,” “security,” “belonging,” “esteem,” and “personal growth.” Maslow maintains that once people’s basic needs (physiological, safety, and social) are met, they focus on their higher-level needs (esteem and self-actualization). Attempting to meet needs brings us face-to-face with the dilemma of choice. This requires us to step into the future, where risk is associated with everything we do. No matter how carefully we plan, we’re always aware that things can go wrong. This dilemma places us between two sets of forces: those pulling toward safety and those pushing toward growth and development. In 1969 it was described as a struggle between the need for defenses (security) and the need to know (growth). How people resolve this dilemma depends on their values. Values shape people, preferred ways of satisfying their needs and, whether they’re aware of it or not, every action is guided by one or more values. There are three types of values: growth values, “coasting” values (healthy regression), and defensive values (unhealthy regression). He maintained that people have a natural desire for growth. He asserted that more mature and healthy people place greater emphasis on growth, but that “coasting” values are always necessary. Defensive values protect against pain, fear, loss, and threat, but they can significantly inhibit growth.
Values are taught in the home first by the...

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