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Published:August 22nd, 2009 16:03 EST
Do I Have Self Actualization

Do I Have Self Actualization

By Roya Rohani Rad, MA, PsyD

Self Actualization

Self-actualization is a process first described by a psychologist named Maslow. There have been some additions to the term since then, but, in general, it refers to people who welcome reality and facts rather than rejecting the truth, who have high peak experiences, and are relatively tolerant of themselves and others. It seems that humans have a natural tendency toward self-actualization, in order to develop their potential, so that they feel an enhanced sense of self. This natural tendency encourages a sense of equivalence within the person.   An equivalence that gives the person a sense of inner peacefulness.

Self-actualization is considered to be a more mature way of comprehending life as it unfolds. Self-actualized individuals seem to have a sense of purpose for life, genuine interpersonal relationships that are meaningful in quality, not quantity, consequential activities, logical ways of thinking, ability to identify with higher human values, and self-respect. Individuals functioning at this level seem to have moved beyond the ego-oriented needs of Maslow`s hierarchy to identify more with their sense of higher self.

Further, self-actualized individuals tend to focus most of their time in the present. They have learned ways to cope with past memories that might have been negative, letting go of the resentments and anger, or any other negative emotions related to these memories. They seem to see life as a continuum, and seem to be more aware of how their life is unfolding and how it is evolving toward a profound purpose, resulting in a more logical acceptance of what is to come.  They seem to be  more in tuned with reality as it unfolds rather than living in a fantasy world with unrealistic expectations and constant struggle to satisfy basic needs.

Self-actualized people tend to have inner-directed, independent, and self-supportive behaviors. They seem to have less need for approval from other people because they have found ways to accept themselves.  They accept all of themselves, strengths or weaknesses, and have found a way to understand that only with acceptance change is possible.  They understand that no one can change though being in denial.   They don`t function from other people`s expectations and perceptions but only those of themselves. This does not mean that they are not concerned, and neither does it mean that they are not connected with other peoples` matters, but it does mean that their decisions are made from their own core of consciousness. People who have been able to get to this level of maturation follow their own inner vision, have fewer needs and attachments, are not very concerned with results, have their own definition of what is productive for them, and are aware of the choices and the effect these choices have on them and the world. In addition, they are willing to take responsible risks.

The main blockages to self-actualization are fear of challenge, irrational beliefs, and lack of knowledge about self and surroundings, and the inability to apply the knowledge to make the self  grow  intellectually, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  To deal with the fear of challenges, we should understand that, like all other emotions, fear in balanced form is useful for our survial and development. In the right capacity, fear is an emotion we need, but too much of it can prevent us from doing things that might be necessary or productive for our life. It could also prevent us from doing things that might seem uncertain or risky.  

There are rational and irrational fears. For example, fear of snakes is a rational fear that keeps us safe from being hurt by them. However, we have to learn ways to let go of our irrational fear. This can be accomplished by learning the root of the fear, visualizing how our life will change if we challenge that irrational fear; challenging the irrationality with more rational ways of thinking, and finally with facing the fear. Reasonable fear is a necessity, unreasonable fear is an obstruction.

When it comes to self-actualization, behaviors that go against the individual`s actualizing predisposition generate inadequacy in the sense of self. Individuals sometimes use defenses to escape the fear or discomfort they may face in their lifetime. They may twist perceptions of reality to reduce what they see as a threat, or they can act in ways that avoid becoming aware of the threatening experiences, for example, by ignoring or denying it. We can see people who blame their failures on causes outside themselves while crediting themselves for their successes. These behaviors may lead to self-handicapping strategies that prevent the individual from walking away from that which is unproductive, the comfort zone, and the zone that the individual gets used to but is unhealthy for her. This by itself creates the inability to move up the ladder of being toward maturity.

Self actualizes are followers of their own essence and create a healthy life for themselves and as a result have the ability to give back more to the world without even trying to do so. 

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