One of the foundations of transformational psychology is American psychologist and philosopher, Abraham H. Maslow's theory of human needs. Maslow (1908-1970) defines self-actualization to be "the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming. Maslow used the term self-actualization to describe a desire, not a driving force, that could lead to realizing one's capabilities. Maslow did not feel that self-actualization determined one's life; rather, he felt that it gave the individual a desire, or motivation to achieve budding ambitions.
Dr. Maslow summed up the concept of Self-Actualization as:
"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization ... referring to a person's desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency to become actually what we are potentially ..."
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs =>>
Traits of Self Actualized People
• They are realistically oriented and not threatened by the unknown. They have a superior ability to reason and to see the truth.
• They perceive and understand human nature. They accept themselves, other people, circumstances and the natural world for what they are. They are able to learn from anyone and friendly with anyone, with no regard to stereotypes.
• They are emotionally intelligent and feel no need for crippling guilt or shame. They tend to be serene, characterized by a lack of worry. They are self starters, are responsible for themselves, and own their behavior. Work becomes play and desires are in excellent accord with reason.
• They are unflappable and retain dignity amid confusion and personal misfortune, all the while remaining objective.
• They have a great deal of spontaneity and have no unnecessary inhibitions.
• The self-actualized person can be alone and not be lonely.
• They are honest and seek justice for all.
• They are autonomous and independent. Thoughts and impulses are unhampered by convention. Their ethics are autonomous and they determine their own inner moral standards.
• They have a fresh rather than stereotyped appreciation of people and appreciate the best aspects in all things. However they resist conformity to the culture. They determine their own behavior and have their own views on people and events.
• Moment to moment living for them is exciting and often exhilarating as they live their life to the full. Vibrant moments are frequent and peak experiences not unusual. Peak experiences are moments when one sees clearly what before was hidden or obscured.
• They seek wholeness; they are able to merge opposing views into a third, higher synthesis, as though the two have united; therefore, opposite forces are no longer felt as conflict. Self-actualizing people retain their childlike qualities and yet have a far-seeing wisdom.
• Their intimate relationships with specially loved people tend to be profound, sincere and long-lasting, rather than superficial.
• Their sense of humor is philosophical rather than hostile. They can laugh at themselves but never make jokes that hurt others.
• Self-actualizing people enjoy an inborn uniqueness that carries over into everything they do. Their creativity is original, inventive, uninhibited and - since they see the real and true more easily - valuable.
• Self-actualizing individuals are motivated to continual growth. They are also aware of their primary goals in life and are devoted to fulfilling them, both for their own benefit and as service to others.
According to Maslow, only a small percentage of the population reaches the level of self-actualization. It is the summit of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the quest of reaching one's full potential as a person. Self-actualization needs are being one's true self, achieving one's highest potential, wanting knowledge and wisdom, being able to understand and accept oneself and others, being creative and appreciative of beauty in the world. A self-actualized person is happy, realistic, accepting, problem-oriented, creative, democratic, independent, and fulfilling a mission or purpose in life. Unlike lower level needs, this need is never fully satisfied; as one grows psychologically there are always new opportunities to continue to grow.
1 year ago