I am personally interested in the concept of Self Actualisation because it is in my Human Design.
(If you know nothing of Human Design, it is an incredible science that provides a blueprint of exactly who you are. Interested? Go here to get your chart done and read my other human design blogs)
In my Human Design chart I have Gate 42 (The gate of ‘Increase’) in line 5 – ‘Self Actualisation‘ defined by my design moon. Moon is all about emotional stuff. I’m taking a guess then that the self actualisation that is unconsciously mapped out for me in my design (my life) will have something to do with my emotional self.
Although I am, what’s called in Human Design, a ‘non-emotional‘ I live with the emotional disorder called ‘bipolar’, so emotions, whether they’re mine or someone elses, are a huge part of my life experience. It makes sense to me that I will come to self actualisation through emotional challenges, obstacles, training, whatever you want to call it.
Anyway, that’s a whole other blog post, lets crack on with . . .
What is it? What does it really mean? Why is it important? And why should we care about it?
‘Self Actualisation‘ is a term coined by the grandfather of Positive Psychology Abraham Maslow. Maslow is the guy behind ‘The Hierarchy of Human Needs‘ pyramid, which explains the different human psychological needs that we all have.
At the bottom of the pyramid are the very basic physical needs; oxygen, water and food
At the next level are safety needs; shelter, to be safe from the cold and heat and to be protected
The next level is about needing a sense of community, having a sense of belonging, being part of a tribe or something important.
The next level up from that is about friendship, love and relationships
On top of that is the need for self esteem and recognition and significance within your life
And then at the very top is what is called ‘Self Actualisation‘ – The need for growth, the need to realise your whole potential, but that’s just the surface of it.
Lets take a deeper look at what self actualisation actually means
So, as well as all the other needs in the pyramid there’s also this need to live to your full potential; to reach self actualisation. This is not a luxury. It’s not something that would just be nice to have. This is a human need,
Maslow states that this is a need that will rot you from the inside and cause psychological dysfunction and neurosis if you do not honour it. We need to live up to our full potential when we know what we are capable of. So, ignore this need at your own peril.
Maslow says that just like there are vitamin needs that the body has in order to be able to function properly, keeping the body healthy and disease free, the same thing is true of the human psyche. We have very subtle psychological needs where having a deficiency of them causes huge problems.
A lot of people out there ignore this need for self actualisation and are instead just handling their lower level needs. Whilst the higher level needs are being ignored people don’t understand why they feel so unsatisfied and unfulfilled in their lives. Living to your full potential, to self actualise is need, that’s why.
To pursue self actualisation and reach your full potential is what it is to be human.
The lower level needs; comfort, security, warmth, food, shelter etc are base needs. It’s the pursuing of those higher level needs, those ideals, that gets you really inspired and passionate in life.
Meeting the base needs makes you comfortable.
Living your ideals calls for a super charged life to be expressed.
So, what is a self actualised person actually like then?
Here’s Maslows list of what it really means to be a self actualised person. Can you recognise yourself in any of these?
A self actualised person has . . .
- a superior perception of reality and sees reality more objectively than other people
- an increased acceptance of himself, others and nature
- increased spontaneity in his behaviour, isn’t so rule bound and is able to be outrageous and spontaneous
- more focused on the problems and challenges in life and is not so focused on their own feelings, which makes them feel better because they are not so focused on themselves
- an increased detachment from things
- a deeper desire for privacy. They value solitude because they value having time to contemplate and think through things
- an increased sense of autonomy and individuality. They don’t feel like victims of life and they take full responsibility for how their life unfolds
- more resistance to social conditioning than other people
- the ability to not be a slave to their culture, they pick and choose from culture the things that work for them in their lives and the things that empower them and then they leave the rest alone
- the ability to feel comfortable being themselves even if this means being unpopular. They are self reliant
- a good sense of what is real and unreal and they value the truth and facts over mere beliefs, superstitions and dogma
- a more scientific way of thinking
- great appreciation and a richness of emotional reaction, meaning they’re not always logical and locked in their head. On the contrary, they are open to experience and are open to emotion. They experience emotions fully and richly
- a higher frequency of peak experiences. They’re in the flow state more often and they get those really intense passionate experiences in life more and more consistently
- an increased identification with the human species. They feel like they are part of a species that is doing something good
- improved interpersonal relationships. They’re better able to deal with relationships and their relationships are not up and down roller-coaster rides
- a more democratic character structure. They don’t feel like they need to dictate, control or manipulate people
- greater increased creativity. They want to be original and are always thinking about that
- a deep knowledge and understanding of who they are
- the ability to always be moving towards unity and integration in their personality and world view. They’re always taking in information, analysing and synthesizing it into some sort of deeper understanding
- other talents that they are actively nurturing. They recognise their talents and build them up.
- the need to live the ideal values. Maslow goes into ‘ideal values’ at length talking about what the values are of self actualised people. Here’s a partial list
truth, beauty, goodness, uniqueness, wholeness, justice, simplicity, richness, effortlessness and playfulness,
- the ability to pursue these higher needs/values
- the ability to do the things that they love to do. They are driven by positive and intrinsic motivation, not by lack.
- the ability to enjoy more aspects of life, not just achievements and peak experiences, they also enjoy the quiet moments, so they’re able to be happy even when they’re not being stimulated from the outside
- the need to pursue peak performance and they love to be excellent at whatever they do
- a non judging, non interfering, non condemning attitude towards others. They accept others as just other beings rather than objects that are there for their approval, satisfaction, stimulation or enjoyment
- the ability to give more love, they are more loving and they need less love
- the ability ton embrace conceptual dichotomies, polarities and conflicts by fusing, transcending or resolving them
- the ability to be comfortable with paradoxes, contradictions and ‘not knowing’
- desires and impulses that correlate with what’s actually good for them. They can resist bad things in an easy way without a lot of harsh discipline
- solid psychological health
- purpose in their lives and they live with a sense of mission. They view their work as a precious cause and their work is personal to them. They take great pride in their work and they want to do it excellently
- involvement with improving the world. They don’t just care about themselves, they want to make a contribution
- the ability to admit and correct mistakes. They’re not perfect
- an easy self discipline which comes hard to the average person
- the ability to experience duty the same as pleasure
- the ability to gratify themselves moderately rather than abstaining through harsh self discipline. So, rather than saying ‘no’ they may have a little and then stop there. They won’t go over board, they can find that balance
- the ability to express their impulses but use less control to do so
- the ability to express their aggression in a healthier way, a righteous indignation rather than a physical lashing out
- a different new set of concerns, what Maslows calls ‘being challenges’ versus ‘needs challenges’
- the drive to experience joy rather than to experience pain, so they’re moving towards things rather than moving away from things
- the ability to live in the present moment, not focused too much on the past of future
- the ability to make more conscious decisions and they’re generally at a higher level of consciousness which allows them to tap into all of the above!
I hope this inspires you to be a self actualised person. Being human is all about getting into all of these characteristics and living and embodying them as fully as you can.
Can you recognise yourself in any of the above? Would you like to? Start practicing now!
I am definitely on the road to self actualisation. I recognise a lot of myself in all of the above, but I’m a work in progress!
Wishing you all the best!
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