How is Self-Actualization achieved? “The potential to self-actualize is something that lies within us all.” (R. Kay Green). To become self-actualized means that you are “living to your true potential”, (R .Kay Green). When you conquer one level you must move onto the next level. As Abraham Maslow highlighted, “we all follow our own paths” (R. Kay Green). I believe it is possible to achieve self-actualization, but I think it would be a difficult path for many people including myself. In my opinion the obstacles that may block us from achieving such results are attributed to feelings from low self-esteem, not believing in ourselves, fears and anxieties, guilt, remorse, and shame.
From birth we are each on our own journey, our own path. “Those who live in fear will not travel very far in their journey of self-actualization. Fear is restrictive-it cuts off expansion and actualization whether it is within an individual, society, or government. Those who step into their fears know the joy that comes with the learning and growth that comes with the courage to step into the unknown”, (Susan Reeve). What is potential? Potential means “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future” (Merriam–Webster). To expand on this, as humans I feel we have the capacity to reach a higher self. I haven’t personally met anyone who has reached this status. But I’m sure there are many people from all walks of life who are remarkable in giving of themselves for the greater good. In my opinion Pope Francis is such a person. He is the first person I thought of when I read about self-actualization. I believe he has the capacity to reach self-actualization, if he’s not reached it already. He is an inspiration to myself, people of all religious faiths, and in general mankind.
As I travel on my own journey I find I reflect more on the path ahead of me and not the path I chose to take. As an adult there have been times that I have questioned this journey. Did I make the right career choice? Could I have picked a less stressful career? I now try to accept my decisions and look for the passion and purpose in my job as a nurse. The greatest impacts on my inward reflections come from my children. I am a mother to twin boys aged eight. Their innocence and creativity is inspiring. Such trust is bestowed upon me as a parent, and raising them is such a privilege. My parents were great role models for me. My father encouraged his children to read, try new experiences and travel. “Travel broadens the mind,” said my dad, “don’t be afraid to try new foods, learn different languages.” As a parent I encourage my sons to be tolerant, patient, and most of all show kindness to our fellow man.
I strongly believe that the process of self-actualization begins very early in life. Children learn from our behavior and the core values we uphold stays with them forever. Also we can teach them that mistakes are part of daily life and they are not fatal which helps build their confidence as they head on their own journey. The biggest obstacle in this journey of self-actualization is ourselves. Fear of acting on choices can paralyze us. By the fear of failing we can become trapped in our daily lives, afraid to make a move. Fear of critical judgments from people close to us prevents us from achieving the level of personal development that we subconsciously want. It can also block us from true intimacy, the sharing of your true self and most precious gifts with the people we love.
It can be challenging, of course, to move past all of these steps to get to self-actualization Lendt said, “In our lifetime we strive to meet these various needs,” according to Maslow’s concept of self-actualization and his hierarchy of needs, “Circumstances may cause us to go back to a particular stage and need to fulfill it again; once a need is fulfilled, we can work toward achieving the next need. Sometimes unmet needs can cause a person to become fixated or stuck at a particular level.” “ Some of the key characteristics of self-actualized people , as Maslow saw them, are having an accurate perception of reality, being involved in deep personal relationships, being creative, and having a good sense of humor”(pg. 265. Barbara R. Bjorklund).
Susan Reeve, a self-esteem expert and author of The Inspired Life: Unleashing Your Mind’s Capacity for Joy, says that unfortunately, many people haven’t even started on the road to self-actualization. “They don’t understand how the brain works, the creative process, and that everything that exists begins inside and then is brought to form outside,” she says “Most people suffer from low self-esteem and do not believe in themselves- they feel unworthy, unloved, and are ashamed of these feelings. Their fears, worries, and anxieties stop them in their tracks. They give more credence to the opinion of others and fail to honor their inner knowing.” To self-actualize is to discover and cultivate one’s own personal potential. Being all you can be. “But often people aren’t actively actualizing because they are focused on survival, or getting their basic emotional needs met” (Maslow). In order to self-actualize, you’re lower needs must first be met- as per Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.
“Self-actualized individuals are often motivated by a strong sense of personal ethics and responsibility. They enjoy applying their problem-solving skills to real-world situations and like helping other people improve their own lives” (Kendra Cherry). The well-known achievers of self-actualization, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, possessed the rare qualities necessary to achieve this level. But a self-actualized person can also be a homemaker, a teacher, or a mechanic. In my opinion this level is hard to achieve, but the topic as I researched it has definitely given me food for thought. What I have learned is that we are all on our own journey, we all have hopes and dreams. If some people make it to self-actualization then that’s great. The process in getting there is the journey in itself. To aspire to be greater and better ourselves is the beginning of the journey, and most of all to remember if we persevere we can all achieve self-actualization.
Bjorklund, Barbara R. The Journey of Adulthood. Ed.7th Prentice Hall, NJ. Green, R. Kay. 4 Steps to Self-Actualization and Becoming the Best Version of You. Web access 3/30/2014. Reeve, Susan. The Inspired Life: Unleashing Your Minds Capacity for Joy. Good Therapy.org. Merriam-Webster Dictionary by DK Publishing, Inc. NY, NY.
Cherry, Kendra. Characteristics of Self-Actualized People. Psychology Education. Web access 3/30/2014.