Part 1

The process of fully developing personal potentials is known as self-actualization (Maslow, 1954). The heart of self-actualization is a continual search for personal fulfillment (Ross & Havercamp, 2005). A self-actualizer is a person living creatively and fully, using his or her potentials.

Self-actualizers share many similarities whether rich or poor, famous or unknown, well-schooled or uneducated – they all tend to fit the following profile:

  • Efficient Perceptions of Reality – they are able to judge situations correctly and honestly. They seem to be able to discern fakery and/or dishonesty easily.
  • Comfortable Acceptance of Self, Others, Nature – They accept their own human nature with all its flaws. The short-comings of others, and the contradictions of the human condition are accepted with humor and tolerance.
  • Spontaneity – They extend their creativity into everyday activities, tend to be unusually alive, engaged and spontaneous.
  • Task Centering – They have a mission in life to fulfill, or some task or problem outside of themselves to pursue.
  • Autonomy – They are free from reliance on external authorities or other people, tend to be resourceful and independent.
  • Continued Freshness of Appreciation – They seem to constantly renew their appreciation of life’s basic goodness. A beautiful sunset or flower will be experienced just as intensely every time just as the first time. They exhibit an innocence similar to a child or an artist.
  • Fellowship of Humanity – They feel a deep identification with others and the human condition in general.
  • Profound Interpersonal Relationships – They are marked by deep, loving bonds ( Hanley & Abell, 2002).
  • Comfort with Solitude – Despite their satisfying relationships with others, they value solitude and are comfortable being alone (Sumerlin & Bundrick, 1996).
  • Non-Hostile Sense of Humor – They have a wonderful capacity to laugh at oneself, to not make jokes that hurt anyone – more of a gentle prodding of human shortcomings.
  • Peak Experiences – Occasions marked by feelings of ecstasy (flow), harmony, and deep meaning. They feel at one with the universe, strong and calm, filled with light, beautiful and good.

In summary, self-actualizers feel safe, non-anxious, accepted, loved, loving and alive, in pursuit of lifelong personal growth.

Self-Actualization – Part 2

Self-actualization is a process, not a goal, and requires lots of hard work, patience and commitment. Abraham Maslow 1908-1970, one of the founders of humanistic psychology, believed that in order to reach the most highly developed state of consciousness and realize our greatest potential, we must discover our true purpose in life, and pursue it. Maslow developed a highly structured plan of human notivation by defining the steps needed to be followed to move toward self-actualization.

A Pyramid of Needs

His “Hierarchy of Needs,” the qualities found in successful people who aimed high but kept their feet on the ground, is often depicted as a pyramid, but split into two sections. The base has four stages or levels that comprise the “human deficiency needs” and all of these basic levels must be achieved before a person is able to reach for greater intellectual satisfaction through the growth needs.

The Base Levels

The base of our pyramid begins with our physiological necessities including: air, food, water, warmth, sleep and exercise. The next level is safety: to be safe, secure, healthy, sheltered, as well as adequate finances and secure employment. Our third level is our need for love and belonging-ness, the need for acceptance by others, friendships, intimacy and close relationships. The final level of our base is the need for self-esteen, achievement in our lives, being recognized by others, having a feeling of respect, and competence in the things we do.

The Higher Levels

The upper four levels are our “growth needs” and begin with the cognitive level – our need to know and understand. The next higher level is aesthetic. Our desire for order, beauty, balance and symmetry. The final top two levels define the purpose of life and lead to intese spiritual and psychological fulfillment – self-actualization and self-transcendence.

Our Purpose in Life

Self-actualization is the desire for self-fulfillment, i.e., fulfilling our personal potential. Maslow believed that each of us has an individual purpose for which we are uniquely suited. We must identify and pursue that purpose. If an individual is not doing what they are best suited to do in life, it will not matter if all of the other needs are fulfilled. He or she will lbe perpetually restless and unsatisfied.

Self-transcendence is the need to move beyond the self and connect to something higher than ourselves. It might be God, but it does not have to be. It might be a need to help others in need, or to help others realize their own potential. There might not be a more noble cause.

Self-Actualization – Part 3

Abraham Maslow said “what a man can be, he must be.” In order to reach the most highly developed state of consciousness, and realize your greatest potential you must discover your true purpose in life and pursie it. Here are few helpful suggestions on how to begin:

  • Be willing to change. ­– Ask yourself if you are living in a way that is deeply satisfying to you. If not, be prepared to make changes in your life. Ask yourself this question often and accept the need to change.
  • Take responsibility. – You can develop your potential self by taking personal responsibiity for every aspect of your life. This helps end the habit of blaming others for your own shortcomings.
  • Examine your motives. – Self discovery involves an element of risk. If you are restricted by a desire for safety and security it may be time to test your limits. Make each decision a choice for growth, not a response to fear or anxiety.
  • Experience honestly and directly. – Wishful thinking hinders personal growth. Trust yourself enough to accept all kinds of information without distorting it to fit your fears and desires. Try to see yourself as others do. Be willing to admit when you are wrong or if you failed because you were irresponsible.
  • Make use of positive experiences. – Repeat activities that have caused feelings of awe, amazement, exaltation, renewal, reverence, humility, fulfillment and joy.
  • Be prepared to be different. – We all have the possibility for greatness. Most of us fear becoming what we might. Be prepared to trust your impulses and feelings. Accept your uniqueness.
  • Get involved. – Have a mission or calling in life. Work should not be done just to fill needs, but to satisfy higher yearnings for truth, beauty, community and meaning. Get personally involved and committed. Turn your attention to problems outside yourself.
  • Assess your progress. – Self-actualization has no end point. Therefore it is important to gauge your progress fequently and to renew your efforts. Almost all activities can be used as a chance for personal growth if they are approached creatively.

Remember, self-actualization is the process of fully developing personal potentials.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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