Self-actualization according to Abraham Maslow is full development of human potential. How do you know if you are on track?
Abraham Maslow is best known for his Hierarchy of Needs Model and for making the term “self-actualization” known in the field of psychology (Lawson, 2007). Although the term was used by others, it was best described by Maslow as the full development of human potential based on the individuals nature. If there is an ultimate theory of personality it does not come from one domain of personality psychology or area of study but rather by looking at various aspects of research and how the environment, biology, education, ancestry, relationships, and society all play a part in influencing personality.
Psychologists believe that to fully research a subject one must shed preconceived notions and theories. Once you place your perspective on the subject, then you have infected the outcome of the research or therapy (Lawson, 2007).
With that said, to attain any true level of self-actualization an individual must be willing to look at what is intrinsic within them and what they can grow into. It is not about what has not been achieved or attained, it is more about a growth that can be achieved by understanding the self and setting goals that are true to the desires and innate abilities.
Many researchers and authors believe that to attain self-actualization, other levels of need must be achieved. But the achievement of some levels is more about the concepts built up in the mind of the individual. The most common lower levels are physiological (hunger, thirst, comfort, safety, etc.); love and belonging (being accepted and relationship); and esteem (competence and achievement, approval and recognition).
The self-actualized person according to Maslow has the unique ability to detect fake, questionable, dishonest personalities, and in general to judge people correctly and efficiently (Maslow, 1943).
Self-actualizing people love reality and facts rather than avoiding truth; are spontaneous; are focused on solving problems; are accepting of themselves and others and avoid bias. Maslow considered the levels of development and focused on the qualities of independence, autonomy, selective quality friendships, cleverness, resistance to outside pressures and transcendence versus coping with the environment (Lawson, 2007).
Many texts and discussions overlook the 2 additional levels added to the Needs Model by Maslow after later research. Cognitive needs cause the person to seek knowledge and understanding of the world, and esthetic needs focus on symmetry, order, and beauty. Once all the needs have been met in the individuals mind, self-actualization begins. Some individuals will never perceive that their needs are met and therefore will be always out of reach from self-actualization (Milkulincer, 2005).
1 But mark this:
There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (2 Tim 3:1-7, NIV)
- Lawson, R. B., Graham, J. E., & Baker, K. M. (2007). A History of Psychology: Globalization, Ideas, and Applications. Prentice Hall.
- Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4).
- Milkulincer, M. S. (2005, Nov). Attachment, Caregiving, and Altruism: Boosting Attachment Security Increases Compassion and Helping. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 89. Israel; California, India; US: American Psychological Association.
- Bible Gateway. (1993). Bible Gateway (New International Version). Retrieved from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20timothy%203:1-7&version=NIV