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How to reach self-actualization – Maslow’s 8 proven methods
To become self-actualized means that you are living to your true potential. The term was coined by Abraham Maslow back in 1954, when he wrote about the ‘hierarchy of needs’. In this hierarchy, people have the ability to pass through different levels of growth from biological/physiological needs at the bottom through levels of ‘safety’, belonging/love, and self-esteem to finally reaching the final level of growth which he called self-actualization.
Maslow was particularly interested in this group and he estimated that only one in a hundred people would ever obtain this level. People who have obtained self-actualization typically have some common qualities, including the ability to see life more clearly and to put others’ needs before their own. They also share other qualities including a well-developed or even quirky sense of humor, a distinct need for solitude, spontaneity and high levels of acceptance of both themselves and others.
If you would like to achieve this highest level of personal development, Maslow has taught us that there are some effective methods that will allow you to reach self-actualization:
1. Experience life fully and vividly
Maslow taught us that the process of self-actualization begins when we start to become completely immersed in our experiences – living fully, vividly and selflessly.
2. Be honest in your choices
Think of life as a series of choices, one after another. If you are being truthful with yourself as you make your choices, then you are on the way to being self-actualized.
3. Be aware of the uniqueness of yourself
As you realize that you are unique and begin to learn how to express yourself and your feelings truthfully, rather than reflect what you believe others want you to do or say, then you are on the right path.
4. Act with integrity
If you have a choice, act in a way that is honest and true to your nature. As you take responsibility for your own actions you will be working on the way to self-actualization.
5. Be courageous
Learn to have the courage to express your likes and dislikes and to speak up if someone’s actions are not pleasing to you.
Becoming self-actualized is not an end-state, rather it is a process. Maslow talked about it being the process by which you ‘are working to do well the thing that one wants to do’.
7. Peak experiences
Maslow talked a lot about ‘peak experiences’, describing them as ‘transient moments of self-actualization’. These experiences are times that you feel truly at peace and in harmony with your environment and the universe and are marked by a feeling of euphoria and deep joy.
8. Lack of ego defences
Learning to let go of troublesome defense mechanisms that you may use to protect yourself is a necessary part of this process. For example, if you have a tendency to blame your partner for your frustrations or to become angry when things do not go your way, then learning to react in a different manner is part of becoming self-actualized.
Maslow’s guidelines are a useful tool, but many people have found that it can be difficult to bring so much change to bear in their lives with just the force of will. You may find that meditation may be a very valuable strategy to help you truly integrate Maslow’s ideas into your life. Learning to meditate is useful in so many ways, not the least of which is that meditation allows you to access your subconscious mind, gaining access to your inner wisdom. It only takes a short time to learn and great benefits can be gained from as little as 20 minutes per day. You have within you already the inner wisdom that will allow you to truly reach self-actualization and practicing meditation will quickly allow you to reach this goal.