October 29



What is self-actualization and how does it help you speak with confidence?

If you’ve explored the field of psychology at all, chances are you’ve encountered Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

In essence, it explores the human condition – particularly with regard to our needs and the way in which we prioritize them.

It looks something like this:

What Is Self-actualization? A definition from abraham-maslow.com:

Maslow loosely defined self-actualization as “the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities, potentialities, etc. ” (Motivation and Personality, p. 150).

Self-actualization is not a static state. It is an ongoing process in which one’s capacities are fully, creatively, and joyfully utilized.

I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away. The average man is a full human being with dampened and inhibited powers and capacities” (Dominance, self-esteem, self-actualization, p. 91).

Most commonly, self-actualizing people see life clearly.

They are less emotional and more objective – less likely to allow hopes, fears, or ego defenses to distort their observations.

As such, they’re more likely to see past the common belief systems people tend to hold when they have a fear of public speaking.

15 Characteristics Of Self-Actualizing People

What’s interesting is Maslow found that all self-actualizing people are dedicated to a vocation or a cause.

They’re committed to something greater than themselves; something greater than simply succeeding at their chosen tasks – two requirements for growth.

Other major characteristics of self-actualizing people include creativity, spontaneity, courage, and hard work.

Maslow lists more characteristics of self-actualizers (1970, pp. 153-172):

  1. more efficient perception of reality and more comfortable relations with it
  2. acceptance (self, others, nature)
  3. spontaneity; simplicity; naturalness
  4. problem centering [as opposed to ego-centered]
  5. the quality of detachment; the need for privacy
  6. autonomy; independence of culture and environment
  7. continued freshness of appreciation
  8. mystic and peak experiences
  9. Gemeinschaftsgefühl [a feeling of kinship with others]
  10. deeper and more profound interpersonal relations
  11. the democratic character structure
  12. discrimination between means and ends, between good and evil
  13. philosophical, unhostile sense of humor
  14. self-actualizing creativity
  15. resistance to enculturation; the transcendence of any particular culture

8 Ways You Can Become A Self-Actualizing Person

In his final book, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, Maslow describes eight ways in which individuals self-actualize, or eight behaviors leading to self- actualization. It is not a neat, clean, logically tight discussion, but it represents the culmination of Maslow’s thinking on self-actualization.

1. Concentration

“First, self- actualization means experiencing fully, vividly, selflessly, with full concentration and total absorption” (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, p. 45).

Usually, we are relatively unaware of what is going on within or around us. (Most eyewitnesses recount different versions of the same occurrence, for example.)

However, we have all had moments of heightened awareness and intense involvement, moments that Maslow would call self-actualizing.

2. Growth Choices

If we think of life as a series of choices, then self actualization is the process of making each decision a choice for growth.

We often have to choose between growth and safety, between progressing and regressing. Each choice has its positive and its negative aspects.

To choose safety is to remain with the known and the familiar but to risk becoming stultified and state. To choose growth is to open oneself to new and challenging experiences but to risk the unknown and possible failure.

3. Self-awareness

In the process of self-actualizing we become more aware of our inner nature and act in accordance with it. This means we decide for ourselves whether we like certain films, books, or ideas, regardless of others’ opinions.

4. Honesty

Honesty and taking responsibility for one’s actions are essential elements in self- actualizing. Rather than pose and give answers that are calculated to please another or to make ourselves look good, we can look within for the answers. Each time we do so, we get in touch with our inner selves.

5. Judgment

The first four steps help us develop the capacity for “better life choices.” We learn to trust our own judgment and our own inner feelings and to act accordingly.

Maslow believes that following our instincts leads to more accurate judgments about what is constitutionally right for each of us-better choices in art, music, and food, as well as in major life decisions, such as marriage and a career.

6. Self-development

Self-actualization is also a continual process of developing one’s potentialities. It means using one’s abilities and intelligence and “working to do well the thing that one wants to do” (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, p. 48).

Great talent or intelligence is not the same as self-actualization; many gifted people fail to use their abilities fully while others, with perhaps only average talents, accomplish a great deal.

Self-actualization is not a thing that someone either has or does not have. It is a never-ending process of making real one’s potential. It refers to a way of continually living, working, and relating to the world rather than to a single accomplishment.

7. Peak Experiences

“Peak experiences are transient moments of self-actualization” (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, p 1 & 48). We are more whole, more integrated, more aware of ourselves and of the world during peak moments.

At such times we think, act, and feel most clearly and accurately. We are more loving and accepting of others, have less inner conflict and anxiety, and are better able to put our energies to constructive use.

Some people enjoy more peak experiences than others, particularly those Maslow called transcending self-actualizers.

8. Lack of Ego Defenses

A further step in self-actualization is to recognize our ego defenses and to be able to drop them when appropriate. To do so, we must become more aware of the ways in which we distort our images of ourselves and of the external world-through repression, projection, and other defenses.

Lucas Mattiello
Level Up Living

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