Saturday, March 14, 2020

Lessons Learned from Little Red Riding Hood and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Fairytales are written for children, and cherished by adults. The stories are like flower seeds which bloom in our unconscious as we mature. As a child, I read Little Red Riding Hood, a famous folktale. I thought the story was cute and entertaining. Recently, I revisited the story and uncovered a cautionary tale about the dangers of naivete. Folktales reveal insight about human nature so we will recognize these behavioral tendencies in ourselves and others.  This knowledge helps us wake up, and educate our wants to desire goodness for ourselves and humanity. Let’s discuss….

What is a meaning of Little Red Riding Hood?

Sometimes, we do not always know what a person’s real intentions are until they are visible. People can be manipulative to satisfy their selfish desires. Strategies such as lying, gaslighting, deceit, isolation, coercion and nagging are used to control the willpower of another person.  The goal is to force the victim to surrender.  Usually, con artists look like nice and charming people. They pride themselves into turning a 'no' into a 'yes.' Be careful! Before trusting anyone, take time to get to know them first. Trust your instincts. A lapse in judgment can jeopardize your safety and harm the people you love…

Con Artistry:

Con artistry involves getting the confidence of a person before seducing them into giving up something of value. In Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf does not immediately reveal his true intentions.  At first, the wolf approached Little Red Riding Hood in a friendly manner. Like a baby, Little Red Riding Hood was trusting and innocent.  

Why did the wolf take advantage of Little Red Riding Hood? The answer can be found in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs categorize human motivation into levels. Lower needs must be satisfied before higher ones are met:

Level 1- Physiological Needs - Survival Needs - air, water, food, sleep clothing and protection. These are the basic needs necessary for human survival.
                Opposite- Vulnerability, hunger, homelessness or insomnia.

Level 2Safety Needs - Confidence Needs - personal security, employment, health, property. Feeling safe and healthy are essential to living in any environment.
                Opposite- Unemployment, physical harm, sickness, insecurity or fear.

Level 3 - Love and Belonging- Social Needs - friendship, intimacy, family and a sense of connection.  Human beings need personal relationships and friendships. A desire for connection is very strong.
Opposite- Limited social connections and loneliness.

Level 4 - Esteem - Respect Needs - status, recognition, strength, and freedom. A need to feel important and accomplished.
Opposite-Low self-esteem, weakness, feeling invisible, or lack of freedom.

Level 5 - Self-Actualization - Accomplishment Needs - A feeling of achievement and success.
Opposite-Lack of accomplishments, feelings of insecurity, low moods

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid

Picture courtesy of Simply Psychology

Our human needs are universal, but our methods of satisfying them are influenced by our personality, culture, economics and personality.  

Little Red-Riding Hood and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Little Red Riding Hood shows level 1 and 3 of human needs

Human Need
Maslow’s Level
Level 1
Little Red Riding Hood
Love and Belonging
Level 3

The wolf represents level 1, a need for food.  He hunted Little Red-Riding Hood because he wanted her to be a meal.

Little Red-Riding Hood represents level 3, love and belonging. Little Red-Riding Hood went to see her grandmother because of love.

The Dangers of Projection:

By the time Little Red Riding Hood reached her grandmother’s house, the wolf had already eaten the grandmother and put on her clothes.  Little Red-Riding Hood noticed something looked different, but she was not sure. She said, “Oh Grandmother, what big ears you have….What big eyes you have….What big hands you have…What big teeth you have.”  Why didn’t Little Red-Riding Hood recognize the wolf wearing her grandmother's clothes?

Projection is defined as “the process of displacing one’s own feelings onto a different person, animal, or object.”  Projection is gluing one’s own feelings and beliefs onto another person. Carl Jung said, “Projections change the world into the replica of one’s own unknown face.”  In projection, we see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe.  Because Little Red Riding Hood believed she was in a peaceful space, she did not recognize the wolf wearing her grandmother’s clothes.

We Never Read the Same Story Twice

Little Red Riding Hood was a spoken story before it was written down by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. One interpretation is the story is only about a young girl and a bad wolf.  Another interpretation is the story is a warning about the dangers of speaking to strangers and traveling alone.  Also, the story could be about the theft of innocence. Who is right?

Stories are multilayered with various interpretations.  Each person derives a meaning based on their own background. Since we constantly change over time, we never read the same story twice. When I first read Little Red Riding Hood, I never thought deeply about the meaning. As an adult, I see the story’s revelation concerning shadow nature of the wolf and the trusting innocence of Little Red Riding Hood.

What can we learn?

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, human beings must fulfill specific needs to feel satisfied with life. The manner in which we pursue those needs differ based on our background, experience and circumstance. For an example, to satisfy the basic needs of water and shelter, a person may decide to get a job or start a business. Another person may choose a life of crime. To satisfy a need for love, one person may seek relationships with like-minded people, but walk away when no connection is made. In contrast, a person may try to scheme, persuade, manipulate, and harass a person into a relationship, and refuse to take no for an answer. A desire for status may cause families to pursue expensive lifestyles and live beyond their means.

Little Red Riding Hood: Don't Be Naive

Little Red Riding hood was vulnerable and did not recognize the dangerous inclination of the conniving wolf. In our life, we are challenged to distinguish between a friend or a foe. Sometimes we trust people we shouldn’t, and distrust people we should trust. As we grow and become wiser, we learn to trust those who prove that they are trustworthy.  Don't be naive.


What do you think? Thanks for sharing. 

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