We know Frida Kahlo worked tirelessly on her art and that Selma Hayek’s overnight success as an actress actually took her much of her adult life. So what was it that made each of these women eventually succeed? They stayed on track. If you can learn to stay steady and take each step as it comes, you are likely to eventually build the life you want. Last month we talked about the importance of finding stability and peace of mind through meeting your basic needs. Now I’d like to move to step two, meeting safety needs.
In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, after people achieve the first level, (the attainment of food, water, shelter and sex), they attempt securing their need for security, order, and stability with a focus on employment, resources, morality, the family, health, and property.
In my case, I’ll never forget when I nearly ignored my own safety needs. I was 26 years of age and I had just graduated from the University of Fullerton with a degree in Spanish Literature. On a trip to Argentina (my parent’s country) to immerse myself in all things Latina I fell in love with Buenos Aires: the people, the vibrant city, the food, and the Tango. And when I went to Cordoba to see my aunt, I naively fell in love with un Argentino.
After a few weeks, I returned to Los Angeles and made the rash decision to go back and be with him. I told my parents I was going to live in Argentina and start a life with this handsome stranger. My parent’s were not happy. One morning, my father sat me down at the breakfast table. Over mate, he shared in detail why, as immigrants to America, they had left Argentina.
Back in the 50’s, my parent’s home country was under the oppressive rule of Juan Peron; inflation was at an all time high, and most had to hold several jobs just to make ends meet. My dad made it very clear that that was no place for a woman who intended to have a successful career, asking me, “Do you really want to throw your life away? We left Argentina for a reason. America has everything you could possibly dream of.”
He encouraged me to buy my own little place, a condominium in Diamond Bar, California with my sister, and to keep the job I had as a theatre manager. My dad knew that although my heart was broken without Mi Argentino, he promised I would one day meet a young man to share my life with. And though I couldn’t see my own future with the calm he felt, I took the steps he suggested—and you know what? He was right.
It was then that I learned the importance of planting roots, of staying on track without interruption in order to meet my safety needs. The path I chose was made of continuity, mastery, perseverance and persistence. By starting small, I was able to have a place of my own and a job to fulfill my dreams and goals. The important thing was to complete what I started.
The great writer Og Mandino once said, “I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.”
Every day is a climb, but when you reach the top—oh, what a view. If you stay on track, you will eventually reach Maslow’s highest level: self-actualization. You will reach your goals and dreams. You will feel whole, complete, satisfied. Maslow declared, “Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection, as if all people were members of a single family.”
Humans are capable of so much. From birth, they plant their roots in order to survive and thrive, to grow and bloom. Take care of the basics and your safety needs first and before you know it you will discover where you belong in this world.