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Actual Self Actualization

Posted May 13 2010 9:39pm


Self Actualization is the intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately, of what the organism is.”-Abraham Maslow
In Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper, A Theory of Human Motivation, he proposed his theory of self actualization.
The theory was the result of studying people who were very successful, during a time when it was popular to study those who were not successful. Among others, Maslow studied Abe Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Jefferson.
From that study, he determined that healthy individuals are naturally motivated towards what he called self actualization.
Self Actualization is reaching the highest potential we are capable of reaching.
Maslow theorized that in order to reach the point of self actualization, one has to fulfill 5 levels of needs, which are often depicted as a pyramid.
Each of the lower needs must be satisfied before the higher needs can be met. As each of the lower needs are met, we experience a drive or urge to fulfill the next level. Self actualization is the highest level or need.
Read on about these levels of needs, and consider where on the pyramid you are in your life.
Are you at more than one level at the same time? Do you think that it is possible to simultaneously be at a different level?
Do you find perhaps one level remains constant for you, and has become something of a stumbling block?
Or do you pass the theory off. It is just the musings of someone trying to put labels where they do not belong?
Read on, then share your thoughts. Comments are always most welcome!
Maslow’s Heirachy of Needs
The first need, which is the base or bottom of the pyramid, is physiological needs, including food, water, breathing, sleep, and shelter.
Once those needs have been met, we move onto safety and security needs.
These include job security in employment, a sense of structure and morality, savings put aside for an emergency, living in  a home in an area where there is a low crime rate, and having health and life insurance. Everything we need to make ourselves feel safe and secure in our life.
The next need that becomes apparent is that of social acceptance, the need for belonging and love. This includes friendship, family, and sexual intimacy. When this need is not fulfilled, you may find yourself in unhealthy and unsatisfying relationships. You may experience a sense of loneliness and a deep longing to find companionship. This need also includes self love.
The next level is self esteem needs, the needs of the ego. Included here are confidence, achievement, and the respect of others. Without this need being met, you may feel as though you are in a rut. You may not believe you are capable of achieving whatever it is that you seek to achieve.This lack of confidence in your abilities keeps you where you are. Until this need is satisfied, you will not feel you deserve to be or have anything better.
The highest level Maslow proposed was that of self actualization. If it is not being met, not only will you feel a sense of something missing from your life, but you will be driven to discover what it is. You may experience the feeling of being trapped in someone else’s life, like a bit player to some other superstar.You lack the empowering sense of your own talents and abilities, because you have not yet begun to fully explore them. A great deal of your decisions and actions will be based on fear.
Once you have reached the level of self-actualization, you will experience what Maslow called “growth motivation”, which is the desire to continue to grow, to be more and better, the need to push yourself to fulfill your potential.
What a man can be, he must be.”-Abraham Maslow
Characteristics of Self-Actualized People
According to Abraham Maslow, self-actualized people have several things in common.
They include -they enjoy being alone, and in fact require privacy, however they are close with others
-they rely on and trust in their intuition, exhibited in part in making spontaneous decisions and taking action
-they care about humanity, and are interested in solving not only their own problems, but those of others as well
-they accept themselves for what and who they are
-they have a sense of humor
-they tend to be creative
-they have a strong moral system
-they lack prejudice
-they focus on their calling in life
-they have a sense that the journey is as important as the end
To Promote Self Actualziation Determining who you are is the key to growth, and to self actualization.
-Be true to who you are, in word, in action, and in thought
-Live in accordance with your values. Do not betray them.
-Do not pretend to be something you are not, not to others, nor to yourself
-Accept yourself (and others) as you are, and as they are
-Do not judge
Other Actionable Tips You Can Use
Maslow stated that self exploration and action are necessary for self actualization to occur.
-Seek others who think, feel, and desire as you do. People who are working towards their highest self, who are working to be whatever their personal best is, and can give you feedback, encouragement and guidance in your quest. Ideally, you would offer them the same.
-Seek more information on developing to your true potential. Read books, attend seminars, search the internet for resources to help guide and inspire you (such as The Power of 20!).
-Know and really feel that whatever positive expression of yourself it is that you aspire to be in your life, there is a reason for that aspiration. Develop it, develop yourself. Constantly work to improve the circumstances and quality of the life you are living.
-Accept responsibility for everything in your life. You have chosen to live this way. You can choose to change it.
-Lastly, pay attention to your intuition. If that little voice inside of you is gently nudging you to be more, to do more, if it is guiding you with the notion that you can make a difference in this life, it knows what it is saying. Listen to it. Believe it. Do as it tells you.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”-Steve Jobs

Have a comment, or a story of self actualization? Why not share? Helpful comments and suggestions are always most welcome!

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