It can be a challenge to self-actualize
But, with self-actualization, you achieve control in your life, control of your life. Control over your creativity, spontaneity, and interpersonal relationships. You’ll adopt a comfortable, reasonable and sensible morality. You will operate with the ability to separate fact from fantasy. You’ll eliminate prejudice and judgement. It is, in its own way, the clearest definition of what it means to be enlightened as a person and as an entrepreneur.
When you self-actualize, you’ll…
Live creatively, fully using your potential. Think of it as enlightened maturity characterized by the achievement of goals, acceptance of yourself, and an ability to self-assess life and experiences in a realistic and positive way.
Imagine being able to:
Accept yourself and others.
Maintain deep and meaningful relationships.
Have a sense of humor, particularly an ability to find humor in your own mistakes.
Accurately perceive reality, both as it pertains to “self” and others.
Have a sense of purpose and the ability to perform ongoing and regular tasks geared toward that purpose.
Experience frequent moments of profound happiness (what Maslow called “peak experiences”).
Demonstrate empathy and compassion for others and maintain healthy boundaries.
Have an ongoing and profound appreciation for the inherent goodness of life.
Self-actualize to achieve true personal freedom, joy and peace.
7 Steps to self-actualize
Step 1 – Experience EVERYTHING with childlike wonder, your full presence and full attention.
Call it continued freshness of appreciation. Call it childlike wonder. The self-actualized seems to constantly renew appreciation of life’s basic good. A sunset or a flower will be experienced as intensely time after time. The same as it was the very first time. When you let go of expectation and embrace every experience as new, you free yourself.
While I know Mr. Rinaldi does not like certain things, road trips for example. I don’t go into my desire for one with the preconceived outcome based on a past experience. When I want to take one, I don’t go to, “Well, he’s not going to want to go. Forget it, I’ll just plan something else for us to do”. Instead, I plan on going and ask him if he’s interested in joining me. With no preconceived conclusion on the table, he’s free to choose what he wants to do – without pressure or fear of disappointing me. This honestly saves us both from creating resentments around what we “believe” the other may choose in life.
In another example, if I’ve had a fabulous time in a new place or pastime, I don’t hold that bar up for comparison. It allows each experience to stand on it’s own merit. No comparison – no disappointment as it will never fail to live up to my expectations. I simply never had any.
Step 2 – Try NEW things instead of sticking to the same old routine.
Be spontaneous and natural. Be true to yourself, rather than being how others perceive or want you to be. While you may follow general rules and guidelines, don’t be bound by them. You’ll do this because of having an accurate self and world view. You’ll find you’re more open in your interactions with others. While you may be viewed as unconventional, you are not contrary for the sake of being contrary.
This really goes hand-in-hand with step one. When you practice the art– the exercise – of trying new things consistently, you stimulate creativity. You develop a part of your brain that helps you look at things with a fresh perspective.
Ultimately, this allows you to be more flexible. Becoming more flexible is what makes you a much more viable organism in the grand scheme of things. When Darwin discussed survival of the fittest, he wasn’t talking about the biggest strongest. He was talking about the most adaptive. The organism with the most and greatest ability to be flexible and adaptive has the greatest likelihood of survival. In NLP training, one of the presuppositions is The Law of Requisite Variety: (The system/person with the most behavioral flexibility controls the system.)
Step 3 – LISTEN to your own feelings when evaluating experiences instead of following tradition, authority or majority.
Be independent, not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions, judgement and views. Don’t let yourself be pressured into behaving in a way contrary to who you are. Whether it’s a friend, a mob, or all of culture and tradition – do things because you think they’re right, not because someone or something else tells you to.
Here’s the thing, most people bend to the will of tradition, culture, mob or those closest to us for one simple reason. They want to be accepted. They want to avoid judgment at all cost. And the thing is, where human, we judge. So here’s how this plays out – you compromise a want, need or value in order to avoid the pain of judgment. They still judge you. And you’re living a compromised existence. How is that ever going to make you happy? Stand up! Own it! Make the commitment to make you happy.
Do what you want and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. Dr. Seuss
Step 4 – Be HONEST about everything.
To self-actualize, you must accept your whole self; your strengths and weaknesses. And you must embrace them all. You cannot downplay your weaknesses or exaggerate your strengths if you hope to get anywhere in life. If personal growth and self-actualization is to happen, you must operate first from truth. When you have an inaccurate view of yourself or the outside world, there is disparity between your internal self and the external world. Self-actualization is achieved by those who have the most accurate view of themselves and the world around them. Those who see, speak and live from truth. You cannot live in the conflict of that disparate view.
Conflict will always keep you stuck. Think about the Push Me – Pull You from Dr. Doolittle, this two-headed llama Faced opposite directions and never got anywhere. That’s what happens when you’re in conflict, you do nothing. You do not grow. You do not expand. And you do not reach your potential.
When Mr. Rinaldi and I were first married, he got to experience my “brutal honesty”, in such a way that he still shares the story to this day. I had just returned from a very unsuccessful trip to Las Vegas with girlfriends. What exactly does that mean, well, I lost thousands of dollars. It wasn’t money that I didn’t have. I had planned my trip carefully – and only lost what I could afford to lose. Unfortunately, I could afford to lose a whole lot of money at the time.
Mr. Rinaldi was okay with me going on the trip, he loves that I make time for my friends and my family. He loves that I take time to do things that I enjoy without him. Unfortunately, he has major judgments around gambling. So I was not looking forward to sharing my losses with him (yes, I realize I had an expectation – in violation of step number one – I’m a work in progress.)
When I returned home, he asked how my trip was and I told him I had a great time. As he was moving my luggage upstairs for me to unpack, he asked if I won or lost. You’ll note I was not giving up information willingly. But I wasn’t going to lie. I told him I lost. He then asked how much. This is where the make it or break it moment occurred in our marriage. I turned and looked him in the eye and said, “Do you want the truth, I guarantee you’re not going to be happy about it. Or would you prefer to be happy, and I can tell you exactly what you want to hear.” He walked away for a moment, turned and said, “I prefer to be happy, tell me what I want to hear.” Perfect! I smiled and we left it at that.
I gave him the choice, I never lied. he understood the truth was not going to make him happy and he decided what he wanted his reality to look like. To this day, I still give him choice. And he gives me the same. Sometimes it gives us time to come to terms with realities that are in conflict and the space we need to approach them with an eye on resolution versus heated emotion of being in the moment. And sometimes it leaves things on the table that we know we’re never going to resolve. And it allows each of us the space to respect each other’s reality and live together peacefully when those realities are in direct opposition to one another.
Step 5 – Be OK with not having a popular opinion if you don’t agree with the majority.
Despite their satisfying relationships with others, self-actualizing people value solitude and are comfortable being alone. Understand you are an individual, not part of a pack. And live from that truth. Self-actualizers are free from reliance on external authority or other people. They tend to be resourceful and independent in thought, action and behavior. They march to the beat of their own drum and sometimes entire band. Let your freak flag fly!
Each of us is a special little snowflake. One-of-a-kind.
I explain it this way, when observing a single point in a two-dimensional representation, there are 360° around that point. We live in a three-dimensional representation. That three-dimensional representation must also take into consideration aspects of time, space, past experiences, perceptions and emotions. So, mathematically you haven’t cubed those 360° (360×360) to reach the number of potential outcomes. What you’ve done is you’ve created an infinite number of possibilities. An infinite number of potential outcomes. And each and every one of them is correct. Not a single one is wrong.
So picture this, a single point in time and space. In a two-dimensional representation we have 360 potentials to view it from. 360 potential experiences represented. Now add in all those other factors – and you end up with infinite potential for outcome. It’s a wonder any of us agree on anything.
Step 6 – Take RESPONSIBILITY and work hard.
When it comes to responsibility, the first thing I say it, “When you own it, you can change it.” This isn’t about blame or culpability. It’s about being at cause versus being at effect. This is actually one of the most empowered positions to be in in life. It means you are no longer waiting for external source (person or circumstance) to give you permission to make a change. It means that right here, right now you choose your outcome. Even if that outcome is simply how you perceive an outcome that is outside of your control.
The second part of this conversation is having a mission in life to fulfill or some task beyond yourself to pursue. Finding that “something bigger” to propel you. This will give you a life of passion and purpose. Because the desire to assist others is birthed from an internal sense of right and wrong, which is grounded in empathy.
You are most connected to who you are meant to be and the world around you when you are looking at your contribution to the tapestry of humanity. You are most fulfilled when you are living your full potential and sharing that with the world. My programs are called Lessons in Joyful Living for a reason, I believe your “lesson” is what you’re here for. That thing that you are here to do. It may be your vocation, your avocation, a single event or simply reaching an understanding and consciousness. Whatever it is is irrelevant for the sake of this conversation. It’s that “THING” that is your purpose. Finding it is your “lesson in joyful living”. But finding it is only half of your path, sharing it with the world is the other and more important half.
Step 7 – Identify your defenses and have the COURAGE to give them up.
Those who self-actualize understand that the journey is never over. To self-actualize requires self-awareness, and self-awareness requires an understanding that there is no such thing as done. Especially when it comes to personal development. Understand, there is no such thing as perfection. To be self-actualized means to understand that you must never stop growing as a person and learning as a professional.
Stands and holds candle.
My name is Kimberly and I’m an introvert. I have a tendency to self judge much more harshly than I would the world or others. I battle extreme insecurity about my weight. Mostly I tend to overlook my accomplishments, because I’m focused on progress and process improvement. I tend to completely ignore or downplay comments or compliments about my physical beauty – because it’s random genetics after all. I can be off-putting with my analytical and left brained communication style. Facts are more important than feelings at times. I have a tendency to correct others, because I love them and want them to be right. I’m biologically brilliant – super genius IQ. I’m intelligent and adaptable – behaviorally and socially successful. I was 35 years old before I came to the understanding that being happy and being right can be mutually exclusive. I’m fiercely loyal. I believe in the potential of every human being. I believe we live in a world that is predominantly beautiful, safe and magical.
I’m accused of being intimidating, distant and overly critical for many of the above reasons. And the reality is, I’m shy and it takes me a long time to warm up to people. If I care about you I want you to be the best you can be. I’m deeply conflicted about my own inner world (extreme insecurity about my weight – I made this happen versus an understanding that fair skin, green eyes, red hair, symmetrical features, and large breasts meet current cultural standards of beauty – I had nothing to do with this, it’s random genetics at play).
How’s that for self-awareness!
And just because others find me intimidating, distant or overly critical doesn’t mean I buy into their perceptions. Behaviorally and clinically, I’ve been taught perceptions are projections. However, from my self-awareness standpoint, I understand that there’s something within me that needs improvement. As I said, I am a work in progress. From the moment of consciousness about who I am as an individual until the moment I die I will continue working on being better at being me. Weaving that “I AM” thread into this tapestry of human existence. And striving to do so in the most beautiful, vibrant and appropriate manner. While I self-actualize, my ongoing and continuous goal is to self-actualize. It’s the journey and the destination.
How can you tell when you self-actualize
It’s a point where you are being and doing the very best you can. You’re self-fulfilled and helping others. And the beautiful thing is you can achieve this state.
Maslow noted that the order in which the needs are fulfilled doesn’t always follow linear progression. For some individuals, the need for self-esteem is more important than the need for love. While for others, the need for creative fulfillment may supersede even the most basic needs of income or safety. Maslow also found that self-actualizers share specific similarities. And regardless of background or life experience (educated or not, rich or poor, etc.); the self-actualized tend to fit the following profile.
- They embrace self-acceptance and accept other people for who they are, treating others equally and with respect.
- They’re realistic, they look at the world in a logical and rational way while remaining positive.
- They have a strong sense of responsibility and work on solving problems.
- They’ll have “peak experiences” in life that help shape who they are.
- They follow their own path and do not give into what others want from them.
- While they have profoundly deep relationships, they enjoy solitude. Using this time to discover themselves.
- They have a philosophical sense of humor that often focuses on their foibles.
- They’re spontaneous, while they follow general rules and guidelines, they’re not bound by them.
- They enjoy the process and achievement of life goals equally. The journey and the destination.
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