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Five Steps to Thriving and Growth

You can either step forward into growth or backward into safety.
Author: Dr. Andrea Dinardo
2 years ago
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Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a great model for understanding how to thrive under pressure and grow. This is because it gives people rapid-fire insight into why they may be stressed and struggling at certain points throughout the day. And in turn, it empowers individuals to address the underlying source of a problem, instead of what superficially appears to be causing the difficulty.


The first two steps of Maslow’s hierarchy are called deficiency needs.

The upper level of Maslow’s hierarchy includes growth needs.

  • Lower-level needs must be met before higher-level growth needs can be sustained long-term.
  • Basic survival needs act as the foundation for the capacity to thrive, flourish, and grow.


What’s Missing?

Step 1

Physical Needs

  • A good night’s sleep
  • Healthy food
  • Deep breathing
  • Movement and exercise

Inhale Peace Exhale Difficulty

When everything feels out of control, breathing is the one thing that will always be within our control. The times we are under the most amount of stress is the exact time we need to expand our breathing – not restrict it.

Step 2

Safety Needs

  • Freedom
  • Survival Skills
  • Feeling Safe and at Peace

Get Under The Fear

Write down something that repeatedly makes you feel unsafe. State the anxiety-provoking situation out loud. Ask yourself Why in response to the situation. For example: Why does this situation make me feel uncomfortable? Repeat the Why question in response to your situation five times.

The goal is to discover the root source of what causes fear in a particular time, place, or situation. With the intention of enhancing inner peace and understanding.



Step 3

Love and Belonging Needs

  • Community connections
  • Supportive relationships
  • Loving family and friends
  • Encouraging coworkers

Smile at a Stranger

Have you ever wondered why you can’t help but smile back when someone smiles at you? And why it feels so good when someone (strangers included) smiles. It turns out that smiling is linked to a specific type of neuron called mirror neurons. Simply seeing someone smile generates a community chain reaction of positive emotions and behaviour. One more reason to share your good vibes with the world.

Step 4

Self-Esteem Needs

  • Goals and ambition
  • Education and learning
  • Stretching outside your comfort zone

Do not fear failure, embrace it.

One summer at the Faculty of Education, a student asked me who my greatest teacher was. It took me a moment to realize that it wasn’t a person – it was an experience.

I had learned the most and stretched the most in times of failure and catastrophe. It was not easy at the time, but when I look back, I now realize that I grew the most during that time.

Self-esteem is not based on compliments. It comes from overcoming and rising back up, again and again, and again.

Step 5

Self-Actualization Needs

  • Sense of Purpose
  • Vision and Mission
  • Fulfillment of Dreams

You Make a Difference in This World

So many people in this world are struggling with what to do with their lives. An existential struggle that did not exist 100 years ago when jobs were more clearly defined. Therefore, it is essential to explore purpose in many ways. Including our unique strengths, personalities, and virtues.

The way I see it: who you are is your life purpose. What makes you different is also what makes you indispensable. The world needs your unique kind of wonderful.

You Matter

Dr. Andrea Dinardo is a psychology professor and keynote speaker with expertise in stress, resilience, and mental health. Visit DrAndreaDinardo.com  to learn about her speaking, training, and professional development services. 

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