The term self-actualization has circulated on the internet, but not everyone understands it. Interestingly, it’s hard to tell if that’s true. After all, self-actualization can mean differently to each person. You can’t generalize if people actually understand it if there’s no standard definition of it—is it really the case?
You see, many people in the past had defined self-actualization in their own way. But the most widely accepted definition was from Abraham Maslow. For him, he described it as the process of becoming anything you want to become. In simplest terms, no one else can define the term for you but yourself.
After Maslow has described what self-actualization is, he derived the hierarchy of needs from it. It’s a pyramid that shows the basic human needs at the bottom part and the more complex needs at the top. As each need is fulfilled, a person may feel the need to proceed to the next stage.
Here’s a simple outline of how the pyramid is displayed from top to bottom:
- Respect for yourself and others or self-esteem
- Relationships or love
- Need for safety
- Basic needs
The very top of the pyramid is depicted as self-actualization, or the need to reach your full potential and become who you want to be. For this part, there’s no formula that you can follow to help you reach your potential because each journey will be different for each person. However, certain behaviors may help you and redirect you closer to your version of self-actualization. So how can you become a self-actualized person?
Here are some behaviors which may guide you to the path of self-actualization.
1. Be Here In The Present
According to Maslow, one of the behaviors that can help you towards self-actualization is putting your whole self in the present moment.
When you put yourself in the present, you can fully experience everything that’s going on around you with complete focus. Avoid being too self-conscious or shy about what you are, who you are, and how you do. The more you fret over yourself and about the past or future, the less likely you will be able to concentrate on what’s here in the present.
Let your defenses down and put yourself in the moment. Experience everything with your senses. When you do those things, you’re in the exact moment of self-actualization.
Suppose you’re unsure whether you’re a self-actualized person. In that case, you can take a self-actualization test and measure your personality with online questions that may tell if you’re self-actualized or not.
2. Pay Attention To Your Life Choices
You may not notice it, but you’re presented with endless choices at each moment in your life. Whether it’s a big or small choice, everything that’s happening in your life is affected by your life choices. You can classify these choices into two:
- Progressive choices: The ones that can help you grow as a person or be exposed to new experiences that can contribute to self-actualization.
- Regressive choices: The ones you choose if you prefer to be on the safe side of things or if you’re still too afraid.
Pay attention to every single choice you make and ensure that you go for ones that can help you become a better person. Remember, self-actualization is continuous growth. Choices may include whether to lie or be honest or whether you’d like to try new activities or stay to the ones you’re most familiar with. Overall, choices revolve around everything and anything you do in your waking life.
3. Know Your Internal Self
Know who you really are and let it emerge. Pay attention to the things that make you become you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does a particular food taste good for you?
- Did you like the movie or online clip you just watched?
- Do you want to continue doing this activity you’re doing right now?
Listen to your answers and honor them. Don’t suppress them in a way that you won’t anymore be able to express who you are and what you are. Moreover, avoid consulting others’ opinions and letting them define who you are.
When you know yourself, it’ll be easier for you to identify and realize your potential and let yourself shine.
4. Choose To Be Honest
When given a choice, choose to be honest. When you lie, it’s always because of one of the following.
- You fear that people won’t accept who you are
- You’re afraid to hurt someone’s emotions
- You want yourself or your opinion to be in sync with the rest.
Unfortunately, lying hinders your progress to self-actualization.
When you’re a self-actualized person, you take responsibility for your real reactions or feelings. So, be honest and avoid playing with other people’s emotions. Avoid working yourself too much to ensure every single person you meet will accept you and everything you say. Be honest with yourself and the people around you. When you do that, you’re actualizing yourself.
5. Create And Follow Your Own Path
It’s common for most people to suppress or not listen to themselves, and it results in them not being able to self-actualize. This can happen to you when you choose to go along with the majority as you’re afraid of becoming different than the rest. This fear often comes from the thought that a different person or the one who doesn’t go along with the rest tends to be disliked, hated, or rejected by society.
However, if you choose to be honest with yourself and discover what your inner self tells you, you can start paving your own path. So, if you want to be a self-actualized person, don’t be afraid to be different than the rest and stand up to what you believe is good for yourself. When you do this, you’re bringing yourself closer to better life choices and therefore, self-actualization.
6. Never Stop Actualizing Yourself
As mentioned, self-actualization is a non-stop and continuous growth process of oneself. This means you shouldn’t stop actualizing your potential even if you believe that there’s no room for improvement anymore. This process may sound demanding since it takes a lot of practice before you become good at something. Thus, it’s crucial that you prepare yourself.
For instance, if you feel that you’re meant to be an amazing dancer, you won’t feel fulfilled if you’re always assigned as a backup. Thus, you need to keep on working to be the best dancer that you can be. Aim higher and work harder, and soon you’ll be able to reach all the inner self desires that you have for your life.
The Bottom Line
To achieve self-actualization, you need to keep moving forward. Once you’ve conquered one thing, move forward to the next goal. You don’t stop, and you shouldn’t. There’s no such thing as tricks or shortcuts to self-actualization. To achieve this complex level of yourself, start by knowing and accepting who you are, and then take the essential steps to become the best version of yourself that you believe you can be.