Self-Actualization occurs when a person is able to fully take advantage
of his or her talents while being mindful of their limitations. Colloquial
usage of the term often refers to an enlightened state of maturity that
is characterized by achieving goals, accepting one’s self, and self-assessing
in a realistic and positive way. Often associated with humanistic psychologist
Abraham Maslow, the “hierarchy of needs” addresses the basic
and esoteric needs of humans. Stages in the hierarchy of needs include:
- Physiological Needs
- Safety Needs
- The Need for Love and Belonging
- The Need for Esteem
Only once the most basic human needs have been met can the process of self-actualization
begin. Once esteem needs such as self-confidence and self-respect have
been met, a person might begin to self-actualize. Achieving self-actualization
is not only different for each individual, it is also rare. According
to Maslow, only about 1% of the population achieves self-actualization.
Characteristics of Self-Actualization
To be self-actualized individuals, we must reach the apex of human existence.
As individuals, we must become everything we’re capable of becoming.
Although this realization can occur in numerous ways, self-actualization
is usually achieved as the result of sound psychological health and a
strong sense of fulfillment. Generally, self-actualized people:
- Are accepting of themselves and others
- Maintain meaningful relationships
- Can exist independently or autonomously
- Demonstrate the ability to find humor in their own mistakes
- Are empathetic to the realities of others
- Exhibit appreciation or childlike wonder regarding the goodness of life
- Have a grounded sense of purpose and responsibility
Alternative Ways to Achieve Self-Actualization
Not all people strive for self-actualization. Sometimes the influence of
institutions and cultures results in differing opinions about what determines
a self-actualized state. For example, “person-centered-therapy”
suggests that every human being strives for, and has the capacity to fulfill,
their own potential. This approach diverges from the “therapist
as expert” model and instead moves towards a non-directive, empathic
approach intended to motivate the client’s psychological therapy.
This form of therapy might appeal to people who have negative or unrealistic
expectations or those who find achieving self-actualization to be difficult.
However, resolving this sort of self-concept in therapy can potentially
help individuals move closer to self-actualization because “person-centered
therapy” focuses on the individual’s strengths rather than
Looking for more information about self-actualization? Contact our team
of Chico health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions. We’re here
to help you live a healthy and balanced life.