In practice I seek to empower clients, providing the tools to better understand behaviour so that the individual has the knowledge to affect the changes they seek for their life.

This article seeks to ‘triangulate’ research and methodology previously discussed in my December and January blogs… Not read them yet?

Click here to read my December blog: How you can change your brain to cope better with anxiety and stress

Click here to read my January blog: Are you sabotaging your own happiness

Theory triangulation, involves using more than one theoretical scheme in the interpretation of the phenomenon.  As one client once said ‘Keys are power’ and knowledge of the phenomenon that is the real you is the metaphorical key to unlocking your potential.

In the December blog I discussed ‘How the mind works’ and this diagram provides a quick refresher.

To recap, in very simple terms, there are ‘two’ parts to our brain; an intellectual and an emotional.  The intellectual part of your brain is the ‘best version of you’ able to make a proper assessment of any given situation and identify the solutions that are right for you.  The emotional part is only interested in your survival the ‘primitive you’ hard-wired to hit it, run away form it or hide from it: ‘it’ being the trigger for your perceived trigger to your stress and or anxiety.

It is the understanding of triggers to those personal stressors that will mean you will be better equipped to mitigate, intervene and ‘head it off at the pass’. The resulting outcomes being that you feel more confident, in control and joyful.

Now, as a result of the highest barometric pressure in 30 years, I was reminded that as a child my Grandma had a wall mounted barometer that she would gently tap with the back of her fingers each morning to ascertain what weather we could expect.  The needle would rotate, gliding smoothly to rest on Stormy, Rain, Change, Fair or Very Dry.

This positive memory of my Grandma got me thinking…

What if there was a barometer that could spot the changing ‘weather’ in ourselves?

As it turns out there IS a barometer for spotting the changing weather in ourselves and it was proposed by Abraham Maslow (1943).  Maslow wrote a paper ‘A theory of human motivation’ that suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs.

When triangulated with how the mind works, the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs provides a really useful framework, or ‘barometer’, for you to make sense of the changing weather within.


Consider when you are hungry, how does this behaviour manifest?  The term ‘hangry’ is commonplace in our vernacular.  At its most basic level hunger is a physiological need.  In the event of air, water, food, warmth and or shelter being restricted the emotional mind will ‘step in’ for, at the most basic level, our very survival is under threat.

Consider further that your safety and or security is under threat.  This could manifest itself as stress at work, financial concerns or health worries.

Furthermore the safety and security of your friends and family will cause the emotional mind to ‘step in’ for if our, or that of our immediate friends and family, safety and security is at risk then our very survival is under threat.

“Both physiological and safety are basic needs.  If these basic needs are not met then the emotional mind is in charge.  If the emotional mind is in charge you are not solution focused and your stress bucket will be filling fast.”

The Maslow Hierarchy of Needs provides you with a framework to rationalise what is going on.

If you are beginning to feel stressed, aka your bucket is filling, ask yourself, when did you last have a cup of tea? When did you last eat? Are you cold?  It sounds simplistic but this is how we notice what is going on physiologically for us and most importantly do something about it.

If these physiological boxes are ticked and you still feel ‘not yourself’ then ask how safe am I at work, at home, how secure am I about my immediate friends and family safety?  This requires you to be objective and focus on what you can do, solution focused, and not obsess, emotional mind, about what you cannot do.

The concepts raised here are complex and would benefit form further discussion to enable understanding of the small steps available to the individual but, taken as a starting point, when those basic needs are better managed then the third stage on Maslow Hierarchy can be entered; belongingness.

Belongingness is about positive relationships with friends and family, providing the gateway for a more positive relationship with self.  A more positive relationship leads to the fourth step on the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, which is better self-esteem. However, be mindful that self-esteem, at its event horizon, can present as narcissistic behaviour(s).

Instead consider this next step as a validation of self-compassion, you being able to express kindness towards yourself.  Self-compassion is not selfish rather self-compassion, at its event horizon, can be considered to be the catalyst for assured wellbeing.

Both belonging and self-esteem (aka self-compassion) are psychological needs and therefore constructs of the intellectual mind, allowing you the capacity and capability to make the small steps to be that best versions of ourselves.  By fulfilling the psychological needs you produce serotonin, the essential feel good chemical, which contributes enormously to our sense of wellbeing, allowing you to be that best version of yourself.

Maslow would describe being the best version of ourselves as ‘self actualisation’, the fifth level the hierarchy of need.

If you’re struggling, I would really encourage you to use the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs to try and discover  a greater understanding of your own behaviours, and of course, if this proves to complicated or challenging (which for many with complex or long term mental health issues it can) then I am always available for one-to-one consultations to help you take that all important first step and beyond.

Brett Rennolds is a qualified Solution Focused Hypnotherapist DSFH, HPD, MNCH NCH Supervisor and registered with the Complimentary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).  If you want to know more about the issues covered in this article contact Brett at Rowans House Centre for an initial consultation.