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Where’s Maslow? A Lifelong Search for Security

Safe deposit boxes with open one safe cell. 3d illustrationSince the late 1980s, I have seen dozens of therapists due to depression and low self-esteem caused by financial distress.

One of these therapists once told me that everyone deserves a certain level of comfort. Whether this is factually accurate has been subject to much debate — both in philosophy classrooms and in politics.

Regardless, if you do have the intellect to debate this subject, then you have likely had at least one course in basic psychology.

Upon sitting through a semester of Psychology 101, you know of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — developed by the American psychologist, Abraham Maslow. In short, this hierarchy addresses human needs — everything from the need for food and job security to the need for love and self-esteem.

Now, I’m sure that these previous four paragraphs beg the question, “What did happen to you, John, in the late 1980s?”

In 1988, I was in high school as an obese student who came from a poor family. Being in such circumstances was hard enough.

But, in the spring of that year, my depression was amplified to the tenth power. During that time, my father lost his eyesight and, therefore, his job. As poor as we had been throughout my life, this trauma literally snatched my family’s livelihood.

Even after this excruciating experience, my adult life did and does continue to suffer many traumas.

Being Brave is Not Enough

Loosely based on a quote by Franklin Roosevelt, we’ve all been told that bravery is not the absence of fear — it is taking action despite fear. Sometime after my family’s loss, I remember my mother telling me, “You’ve got to be strong!”

I have spent much time being strong, or at least much time in trying to follow my mother’s advice.

But, being brave is not enough.

Hard Work is Not Enough

A rich man once told me that financial security only comes through hard work. In much of high school and college, I studied hard and made respectable grades — even graduating as valedictorian from college.

In addition, I have spent many years working and studying the forever-changing face of computer software during my career as a software engineer.

But, hard work is not enough.

Going to Church is Not Enough

Another thing that my mother and the rich man impressed upon me for years is to go to church and be religious.

I do believe that everyone should go to church. And, even despite all of my trials and tribulations, I’m going to always maintain the religious beliefs that my mother and my ministers have instilled within me.

Every minister, however, will tell you that going to church offers no guarantee that all of your needs will be met.

Even going to church is not enough.

The Search Continues

For generations, people have been intrigued by search games. Whether it be playing “hide and seek” before the days of electronics, trying to master the arcade video games of the early 1980s, wondering Where’s Waldo? beginning in the late 1980s, or enjoying today’s Pokémon Go.

The reason that search games command the attention of humans is because our basic instincts make us wonder if what we are looking for will ever be found.

I was seventeen, when my family’s life-changing trauma happened.

During the three decades since, I have taken action despite fear. I do work hard. And, I make the effort to attend church.

But, I continue to suffer traumatic events.

At the age of 45, I have financial problems. I lack job security. I have much debt. I have no money saved for retirement and never will. I cannot even give my wife the sort of life that she deserves, after standing by me and also enduring trauma after trauma.

None of my needs have been met, after three decades. After such a long time span, during which five people have served as President and our nation has experienced three wars, it’s evident that my own search game — Where’s Maslow? — will continue until I’m dead.

Where’s Maslow? A Lifelong Search for Security

John Ellis

John Ellis is a software engineer, blogger, and entrepreneur residing in Tustin, California. John's family consists of his wife, Terry, and their two foster babies - Sam and Maya. John graduated from Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina with a bachelor's degree in Accounting. He has worked for many reputable CPA and business software solution firms, across the country. In his spare time, John loves walking with his wife and kids, studying American history, and keeping up with comic book and science fiction franchises. John, of course, enjoys blogging about therapy and hopes that his readers learn valuable life lessons from reading his blogs. John welcomes his readers to contact him at

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APA Reference
Ellis, J. (2018). Where’s Maslow? A Lifelong Search for Security. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 6 Nov 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.