What Does It Mean to Be Self Actualized?

Almost everyone that went to high school or college, studied Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Most of us found it quite interesting, and some probably thought that it was pretty stupid. But it is not. He develop a framework to understand human growth, what was possible to achieve and how to actually do it! I believe that this concept introduced by Maslow was a big step forward regarding personal development and human psychology.

Try to fathom the importance and relevance of this understanding. After doing some extensive research with different people, our friend Abraham realized that our needs are not something that are unique to each individual. He discovered that we had specific needs, with a hierarchical order , and when we satisfied them, a new group of them appear in our mind. More important, he demonstrated that growth is not an option but a need!

Let’s break this down:

The first four categories are what Maslow called “deficiency needs”. They are:

1) Physiological Needs

They represent the physical requirement for human survival such as food, water and oxygen. Without them, guess what? Yup, you die.

2) Safety Needs

When the physiological needs are satisfied, a new set of needs appear in the human psyche. They are related to the need of security such financial security, health and and stable life conditions.

3) Social Needs

When the ones above are satisfied, we start feeling an urge to feel loved and belong to a social group.

4) Esteem

When all the needs above are filled, we will naturally want to be respected and valued by others. This level is all about self-worth, self-esteem, self-love, and so on. We want to feel that we are doing something that matters, that is good and we are important; we want to have a purpose and direction in life. (if you are interested in this topic check out “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden”).

5) Self-Actualization

When we are able to fulfill all this deficiency needs, the best part comes into play. When a person has a nice home, a family or friends that take care of him, a stable job and he has a solid self-esteem, he is capable of reaching the top of the pyramid.

The question is: “How does a self actualized person looks like?”. Like this:

  • Have a superior perception of reality — they see things in an objective, accepting way without intruding themselves upon what is being perceived.
  • Have an increased acceptance of self, others, and nature.
  • Have increased spontaneity in behavior — they can be unpredictable and outrageous.
  • Are more focused on the problem than themselves.
  • Have increased detachment and desire for privacy.
  • Have increased autonomy and sense of individuality — take full responsibility for how their lives unfold.
  • Are resistant to social conditioning. World-citizens not beholden to any one culture. Pick and choose what they like from culture.
  • Are comfortable being themselves even if that means being unpopular.
  • Have a good sense of what is real and unreal. Value truth and facts over beliefs.
  • Have great freshness of appreciation and richness of emotional reaction.
  • Have higher frequency of peak experiences. Being in flow state more often.
  • Have an increased identification with the human species.
  • Have improved interpersonal relationships.
  • Have a more democratic character structure.
  • Have greatly increased creativeness.
  • Have a deep knowledge of themselves.
  • Are constantly moving toward unity and integration of their personality and world view.
  • Are actively nurturing their talents.
  • Place great value on truth, beauty, goodness, uniqueness, wholeness, justice, simplicity, richness, effortlessness, and playfulness.
  • Are driven by positive, intrinsic motivation, not by lack.
  • Generally enjoy most aspects of life, not just achievement, triumph, or peak experiences.
  • Take pleasure in functioning at their prime.
  • Take a non-valuing, non-judging, non-interfering, non-condemning attitude towards others.
  • Are more loving. They need love less but are able to give love more.
  • Embrace conceptual dichotomies, polarities, and conflicts by fusing, transcending, or resolving. Are comfortable with paradox, contradiction, and not knowing.
  • Have desires and impulses that correlate with what’s good for them.
  • Have solid psychological health.
  • Live on purpose with a sense of mission. Work is a precious cause.
  • Involved in improving the world.
  • Willing to admit and correct mistakes.
  • Have an easy self-discipline which comes hard to average people. Duty and pleasure are the same.
  • Gratify themselves moderately rather than abstaining through harsh self-discipline.
  • Express impulses more yet use less control. Controls are less rigid or anxiety-driven.
  • Are able to express their aggression in a healthier way, as a sort of righteous indignation rather than a lashing out.
  • Have a different, new set of concerns: being-challenges vs needs-challenges.
  • Live to experience joy rather than avoid pain.
  • Live in the present moment.
  • Make more conscious decisions.

The difference is radical. Once a person fulfill their deficiency needs, a whole new paradigm opens up for him. This is the most juicy part of life! This is the moment in which a person stops coping and starts living! This is what I’m aiming for and it is a really good option for you too!

I strongly suggest to make this your mission. It is mine at least. Once you accept that growth and developing yourself is a must, life will be much more fulfilling, interesting and a hell of a ride!

Call to Action!

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