What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualisation.” – Abraham Maslow.

If only achieving self-actualisation was as simple as taking a course over the weekend or enrolling on an online education course. It would be good if we could obtain it fast and readily, as is the case with many things in the modern world. It’s not about the destination, as many have heard before. It is all about the journey. It is important to recognise that self-actualisation is not about reaching a goal or reaching a milestone (though there may be objectives and milestones along the way). Actually, it’s the development process. In terms of self-awareness, fulfilment, appreciation, and contentment, the process is about becoming who you are. 

In this article, I’ll explain the concept of self-actualisation, explain why it’s important, and offer tips to assist you in achieving self-actualisation in the contemporary world.

What Is Self-Actualisation?

Self-actualisation is a psychology term that describes a high level of wellbeing that someone who has reached their greatest potential in life can experience. Self-actualising individuals have achieved their full potential in all spheres of life, including the interpersonal, psychological, intellectual, and professional ones. As a result, they are able to invest a lot of creative energy in each of their endeavours.

The hierarchy of needs, developed by humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow, classifies human wants into five categories that influence behaviour. These requirements include physiological ones, such as those for food to survive, safety needs, love and belongingness needs, unconditional positive regard needs, esteem needs, and self-actualisation wants. Pyramid-shaped visual representations of these demands are common. Only once more fundamental, lower-level needs have been met can a person proceed to meet the higher-level requirements.

Self-actualisation, the top level of the pyramid, refers to reaching your maximum potential as a person. Education, skill development—the honing of talents in disciplines like music, athletics, design, cuisine, and gardening—caring for others, and more general objectives like acquiring new skills, seeing the world, and gaining accolades are all necessary for self-actualisation. When a person achieves the self-actualisation level of the hierarchy, they have plenty of creative energy to invest in their relationships, personal development, and advancement.

These are some of the characteristics of a self-actualised person:

1. Sense of purpose

A self-actualised person is at ease and secure in continuing to pursue their life’s purposebecause they have achieved their own vision of success and happiness through a variety of life events. They frequently want to support people and the environment as well.

2. Self-determination

Self-actualised people are naturally motivated by self-esteem to accomplish their goals rather than relying on external motivators like praise, excellent grades, or pleasing others. These people will have a clear idea of what they want out of life and how they are going to get it, and they will approach problems head-on when they arise.

3. Appreciation for others

A self-actualised individual frequently develops deep connections with other people. Self-actualised people keep a sense of humour and compassion even when they are at odds with others.

4. Ethical

Self-actualised individuals have faith in their moral sense. They may make decisions based on their own moral standards, independent of the opinions of others.

10 Ways to Achieve Self-Actualisation

Self-actualisation is a noble endeavour to pursue. You’re on the correct path if you live your life with meaning, authenticity, and care for others. You can use these tips to achieve self-actualisation.

1. Learn to enjoy your own company

Your social, familial, and romantic connections are significant aspects of your existence. However, cultivating your relationship with oneself is also crucial. Almost everyone gains from taking occasionally to “me time.” Some individuals could require more or less than others. The value you derive from this time may be more important than how you use it. Aim to reconnect with yourself until you look forward to your time alone as much (or more) as the time you spend with others. Self-actualised people often feel tranquil and at peace on their own.

2. Be real

What does this commonly used expression actually mean? Honouring your truth entails staying away from unethical behaviour, manipulative behaviour, and the denial of your needs. This could entail lowering your concern for what other people think of you.

You follow insight obtained from personal experience and live in accordance with the guidance of your heart rather than acting in accordance with what others advise you to do or say. Additionally, you are truthful with yourself about your wants and requirements. Of course, you respect the needs and rights of others, but you also put in the necessary effort to accomplish your own objectives. You put in effort to reach your full potential, not someone else’s.

3. Be compassionate

Self-actualised individuals have a strong compassion for all living things. Beyond theirimmediate social circle and the people they interact with on a daily basis, they have compassion for all of humanity and the entire earth.

Some people find it easier to be compassionate than others. Try learning more about people who have diverse life experiences through reading books or consuming other media created by persons from a different background if you find it difficult to understand and empathise with people who are extremely different from you.

If you want to develop your compassion, try this:

  • Donate your time to humanitarian causes or philanthropic organisations
  • Assess your carbon impact
  • Look for methods to make improvements in your community

4. Try therapy

Therapy can help you take steps towards any of your goals, including self-actualisation. You can get counselling even if you are not experiencing a mental health problem.

The desire to cultivate spontaneity, sincerity, and compassion are entirely valid motivations for counselling. Since the idea of self-actualisation can be challenging to understand, you can also learn more about it in general during therapy.

The majority of the time, when someone refers to “therapy,” they are actually referring to talk therapy, which is a subset of humanistic treatment that Maslow contributed to the development of. However, you might want to look into more specialised techniques like transpersonal therapy or existential therapy if you want to delve a little deeper into spirituality or existential issues.

5. Things to bear in mind

It can be overwhelming to commit to the self-actualisation process. Avoid obsessing over doing everything “right” or setting impossible standards for yourself.

Maslow thought full self-actualisation was quite uncommon, for what it’s worth. Egel concurs and inquires, “How many people do you know who are living their lives entirely authentically?”

Growth, self-reflection, and authenticity can also be challenging due to prior struggles or current circumstances. Last but not least, remember that even the most self-actualised individuals can still improve.

6. Accept!

Self-actualisation can be attained by learning to accept things as they are. This could entail dealing with circumstances as they arise, such as a rainy day when an outside event was planned, rather than wishing they had taken a different route. It might also imply that you become more accustomed to living with uncertainty. Or perhaps it implies you make an effort to look at things realistically rather than with wishful thinking.

Human experience is often referred to as acceptance. It’s not always simple to warm up to folks who exhibit cruel or troublesome behaviour. But you can still show compassion byunderstanding that everyone is dealing with their own set of problems.

7. Seek new opportunities

It is often said that “you grow outside of your comfort zone.” Clichés can occasionally be overused for a purpose. They often convey a crucial fact. Imagine yourself wearing a garment that can stretch and expand as you do when thinking about your potential and developing into it. It’s crucial to feel uncomfortable as a participant in your own quest for transcendence.

You will discover important things about yourself and develop self-confidence by taking on new tasks and stretching yourself. A natural defensiveness may start to sneak in. Change and challenges are difficult since that is how people are by nature. But change also presents a chance for growth and realising our full potential as people. But when you feel like you belong somewhere, you’ll probably be more willing to take on these new tasks and push yourself.

Your self-esteem increases along with your sense of security as you become more confident in yourself and your skills. Stretch objectives without those additional requirements in place may overwhelm some people. In this situation, the pyramidal design can be helpful.

What prerequisites must I fulfil in order to advance towards my potential? Be aware that you might need to take baby steps that are a little safer. In the end, you can discover a renewed appreciation for solving problems, especially when you succeed in overcoming a challenge.

8. Focus on growth

One of Maslow’s guiding principles is that reaching one’s full potential requires growth, which is based on the notion of expansion.

You might have chosen to concentrate on your flaws in traditional growth. Science and research demonstrate that this is less satisfying or inspiring than concentrating on strengths. If you have a growth mindset, as Carol Dweck’s work in this field suggests, you see your capacity for growth and strengthening rather than your abilities or growth trajectory as being fixed or finite.

Positive psychology can undoubtedly be useful in this situation. Growth mindset and positive psychology frequently go hand in hand with the idea that human motivations and strengths enable us to create purpose in our lives.

9. Pause and Reflect

If you believe that the seclusion of the outdoors will make it easier for you to become self-actualised, you need to think again. You will frequently learn and develop through the events, difficulties, and issues you face on a daily basis.

You can begin by implementing modest changes in your everyday routine. I like to suggest a strategy called Street Wisdom, which is a non-profit movement that is simply focused on discovering inspiration while strolling. This method motivates us to explore for solutions all around us, particularly in metropolitan settings.

Additionally, you can rely on tools like coaching. A young professional named Yuri was unsure of what to do with his career.  He said “When I was considering my next career step, I had thisurge to get away from all the stress of my hectic environment, but I couldn’t see a time when that was going to be possible. A friend invited me to try professional and personal development coaching. It turned out that I didn’t need a big getaway in order to work out some of what I wanted next for myself.  I just needed to focus on the questions I was asking, and to be open to the answers. Being receptive to new ideas from my coach was a big help in the process of getting clearer on my purpose and ultimate career fulfilment.” 

10. See yourself Clearly

Being conscious of oneself while stepping outside of oneself can be difficult for humans. But it’s crucial to know that in order to fully reach our potential as human beings, we must be clear about who we are. Building a consistent image of who you are in terms of your inner motivation, abilities, values, and experiences can be tremendously beneficial. In your own life, consider yourself a detective.

For this journey of inner labour, curiosity, together with the willingness and bravery to discover the human side of our complete potential, are necessary. It’s a holistic process, so you should make sure your mind, body, and spirit are all involved. 

Final Word

Self-actualisation is not a one-size-fits-all objective. Since no two people are exactly alike, every person’s route will probably be a little bit unique. Furthermore, it’s not something you can finish in a single weekend.

Instead than being a rapid path to self-improvement, true self-actualisation can be more of a long-term (or lifetime) objective. Having said that, a fantastic strategy to live a more fulfilling life is to work to fulfil your potential and become your best self. Therefore, even though self-actualisation could seem a little intimidating, don’t let that deter you. Maintain an open mind and take each day as it comes.


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