At times a man may be leading a good life. Other times, life throws a curveball. For those fresh from college, securing a suitable job is hard in the modern world of today. Often even experienced folks have trouble making ends meet. Acquiring basic needs, such as a well-balanced diet, adequate clothing, and proper shelter can be quite challenging if one is unemployed. Often, their lives may be lacking something that cannot be identified, even when all their basic needs are cared for. Try as they may, there is still something blocking their success. The missing piece is self-actualization.
What IS Self-Actualization?
This refers to the need for personal growth and development that exists throughout an individual’s life. The ability to visualize what one wants, and to make the dream into reality. It is characterized by honesty, self-respect and creativity when dealing with daily events in life. On top of this, a self-actualized person works hard to become what they desire in life and strives to meet their full potential.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow created the theory of Humanistic Psychology popularly known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Below is a pyramid diagram illustrating the process of Self-Actualization. To ascend the pyramid, the lower needs must be met first. Once each step is achieved, you move up the pyramid until reaching the top. Let’s start by analyzing physical needs, the base of the pyramid.
Survival and Safety
These are driven by the natural human instinct. They mainly handle the need to find food, shelter and safety since they are the foundational needs of every human being. Once the baser needs are met, one can focus on the next level of needs.
Love and Belonging
Building a network of people who care about you, appreciate you and make a person feel like a real person is difficult. The knowledge that those you surround yourself with, are concerned with your needs, as you care for yours. The idea that sharing with those close to you instead of taking to ensure that all members have a greater level of security and happiness. These relationships are based upon growth rather than deficiency.
Esteem is based not only on the admiration of others, but also on one’s own history of success. Visualizing a successful self can help when esteem is hard to find. The need for self-esteem, self-respect, and healthy and positive feelings are vital to maintaining one’s path towards realizing one’s goals.
Individuals at this stage are characterized by their creativity, fulfillment, confidence, and lust for life. They tend to have a greater grasp on what freedom is, and how to keep themselves free.
Self-actualization can be equated to self-realization. However, there are variations on exactly what self-realization looks like depending on how one leads his life. Maslow himself asserted that self-actualization boils down to a few key rules;
Self-acceptance is vital in attaining the highest level of functioning. This means having a realistic view of yourself, accepting your flaws and inabilities. In addition, it also helps in appreciating all of your strengths, talents and achievements in the long run.
This helps one avoid negative peer pressure. It helps one to be able stand with what he or she believes in without necessarily acting contrary to their beliefs. In the end, one is able to act according to what his conscience tells him and what he or she thinks is right, not what someone else tells them to do.
This helps individuals create a sense of true satisfaction from themselves. As much as having friends and family is important, acting by yourself and being true to oneself helps one achieve his or her purpose in life.
It is important for one to have an open mind. This helps one accept new ideas and views, accept new people irrespective of background differences into their lives as well seek them out in times of need.
A firmly held belief system is vital to the process of self-actualization. Individuals have to have some kind of principle or vision that guide them or give them directions on how to lead their daily lives.
Characteristics of a Self-Actualized Person
A self-actualized individual is self-fulfilled. Has made many accomplishments in life through personal growth and peak experiences. Other characteristics of a self-fulfilled individual includes, creativity, hard work and responsibility, strong morals or ethical standards, and problem solving skills.
The ability to be self-actualized is based on success. One must continually reevaluate what it is to survive, in order to fulfill one’s purpose in life. It is a process of self-reflection and inner growth as one moves up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As one moves up the pyramid, one is faced with many questions that an individual has to answer. Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life, and what do I want to do with mine? What legacy will I leave behind? After facing these and other questions, one can truly say that they have lived.