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What is Self Realization?

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You may have heard about self-actualization and, above all, about feeling self-actualized. According to psychology, self-actualization is reached when you arrive and make the most of your potential. It is also known as "achieving your best version", and it is usually presented as an objective that has a lot of personal work behind it..

To make a general definition, self-actualization is usually associated with the ideas proposed by Maslow and his pyramid of self-actualization, although the term was actually coined by Kurt Goldstein. Self-actualization refers to the achievement of goals and personal aspirations using one's own means, in addition to reaching the state of fullness and satisfaction that people experience when they reach it.

Etymologically, the word “self-realization” comes from the Latin roots auto- (“to oneself), realis (“real”) and -izare (“to put into practice” or “to convert”). For this reason, it could be defined as “making what one wants come true”. Are you interested in learning more about self-actualization, what are self-actualized people characterized by, and how can we achieve it?

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In this article we will review the history of the concept, the contributions of its most important theorists and the path to follow to achieve it.

  • We recommend you read: "Personal Development: satisfaction, well-being and performance"

Where does self-actualization come from?

As we have commented, the name of Abraham Maslow is usually associated with the concept of self-actualization due to the importance of its contributions (which we will get into later!), but the term was coined by Kurt Goldstein, a German psychiatrist born in 1878. Goldstein proposed self-actualization in his organismic theories to refer to the materialization of the potential that each individual has, considering self-realization as the fullest development of him and positive.

Nowadays, self-actualization is more related to creative expression, spiritual enlightenment. There is talk of self-realization as a dependent quality present in all areas of human development; family, friends, studies, work, love and relationship with oneself. That is why it is so related to the time invested in achieving it, it is a long process that involves many different factors.

Maslow's pyramid

Abraham Maslow was a psychologist from the United States, considered an exponent of humanistic psychology, and whose theories of self-realization persist to this day, being one of the most validated on the planet and in the territory of Psychology. What Maslow proposed was the self-actualization pyramid. He considered self-actualization as the maximum achievement of human needs, determined by the satisfaction experienced with each of them..

It considers the development of human potential, the acceptance of oneself, the strengthening of spirituality, knowledge, the maintenance of good interpersonal relationships and the ability to achieve well-being maintained over time, developing appropriate coping strategies for issues.

In this pyramid, five hierarchical levels of human needs are described that must be achieved one by one until reaching self-actualization, the highest of all levels. These needs to be carried out range from the most basic to the most complex, and only by surpassing the lower levels will it be possible to access the higher ones. The needs described are:

1. Basic or physiological needs

These are the needs that arise linked to the basic physiological needs; breathe, eat, sleep... They are survival-oriented needs and are part of the human base. They can be, for example, the need to dress warmer so as not to fall ill in winter, for example.

2. Protection or security needs

This next level is made up of needs that foster our feelings of security in life and the world, and that create feelings of stability and order. Among them, we can find the need to have a job or source of economic income, maintain health protected from accidents, injuries or illnesses, or having a home in which to be safe and feel sure

3. Social or affiliation needs

Once the protection or security needs are covered, the social needs appear; once stability and protection have been achieved, we need to relate and establish links with other people. In this way, we seek the acceptance of a social group, be it a community, a family... Another example of social need is joining cultural, sports or leisure activities.

4. Recognition needs

When we already have security and social relationships, the needs more related to esteem appear and the way in which we are seen and recognized by others and ourselves. Without meeting these needs, we can feel undervalued, lacking in self-esteem, and insecure. They are closely related to the concept of self-concept; the meaning we create of ourselves based on the union between what other people think and what we think.

5. Self realisation

The level of self-actualization is the last; the tallest. This includes all the most complex goals to achieve and that need our maximum personal growth to be achieved.. At this level, we use talents, abilities and capacities to achieve our maximum development, making the most of our person and reaching personal success. Personal success cannot be defined as a concrete concept or object; it is defined by each one of us and we are the only people to know the meaning it can have, as well as the efforts to put into practice to achieve it.


How are self-actualized people?

Self-actualized people are conceived as those who have all their needs covered, have all the potential to self-actualize and meet their goals. Therefore, here we propose a series of characteristics associated with these people, so that you can get a clearer idea of ​​what it means to reach self-realization:

1. they are spontaneous

Self-actualized people have a very natural attitude and behavior towards life and problems in general.. This allows them to explore new experiences, sensations, and knowledge, while remaining open and willing to learn and incorporate them into their cognition. Self-actualized people don't let anything be imposed on them; they are interested in living for themselves the experiences to which they are exposed and drawing their conclusions from them. Therefore, they do not usually follow routine lives and are more inclined to constant fluency and curiosity.

2. are autonomous

As we have commented, self-actualized people do not get stuck in routine, so they do not feel insecure when it comes to making decisions for themselves. Therefore, they are in charge of their own actions and are able to determine which decisions will be best for their life plans. They avoid outside influences and rely on their experiences and knowledge to advance.

3. they are realistic

Self-actualized people are conceived as very focused and aware of their environment and the world around them. For this reason, they are very inclined towards the future and moving towards it, so they do not usually waste time on weak ideas or ideas that do not have a relevant future projection.. They tend to be inclined to look for all the possibilities that help them progress.

4. They have the ability to solve problems

Having overcome the obstacles involved in covering all the needs until reaching the self-actualization, self-actualized people will have greater patience and calm when facing a problem. As serious as it may be, the internal emotional regulation that feeling self-actualization entails will give them a solid base on which to rely to gradually manage conflicts.

5. He is tolerant of other people

It is said of self-actualized people that, once they know and understand the dilemmas that we may encounter throughout Throughout your life, you learn the ability to be more patient with those who have not yet developed these skills. She is able to understand the processes that other people go through, because she too has gone through them before.


Reviewing self-actualization

By way of conclusion, we believe that it is important to have a certain critical sense and not accept as true under all circumstances all the theories that have been proposed over time. While it is true that Maslow's pyramid model makes us understand the way in which we organize our priorities, needs and desires, It is important to note that this may be, in many cases, solely a reflection of Western society.. Not all cultures use the same yardstick when setting priorities and it is important to consider this.

On the other hand, self-realization is often presented as the only goal or end of a person's life. It is also important to give relevance to the fact that the human experience is very diverse; there are many different realities, so the definitions of success or achievement are absolutely subjective. What for one person represents self-realization, does not have to represent it for another.

Finally, if you want to know more about self-realization and experience it, we recommend that you explore yourself, know how to differentiate which are your objectives and priorities throughout life and, most importantly, in case you are not clear about what they are, realize that it does not happen nothing. The future is a construction that takes shape as we progress in life, self-realization unites feelings that can come without having generated so many expectations.

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