Self-actualization is finding the motive to reach your full abilities and potential in this life, a concept that can be daunting but exciting. Reaching and achieving your potential is not an overnight flick of a switch; it takes time, patients, persistence and hard work, but potential can begin to sneak up on you, when you find something that makes the effort worth it. Human characteristics and perceptions change and adapt to our situations, and opportunities we come across, but it can be easy to stay stagnant in a comfortable routine. It takes time, experience, and a will to change. We need motivation, we need a reason, and we need to see in ourselves the steps of success we have made, and can make.
Maslows Hierarchy of needs is explained as five levels of motivation to reaching self-actualization: Physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Motivation comes from several parts of our biological, behavioral, and cultural needs, the majority of which is provided for us until we are adults, and then it is up to us. Our unique abilities and traits are the flint that sparks the fire to our full potential, for growth and development, and it all starts with a simple breath.
Our first need and level, is our bodies; our physical and biological needs that are met in order to prosper. If our basic needs such as food, shelter, hygiene or other physiological demands are not met, it can inhibit the development and motivations we need in reaching higher for ourselves, and building a stronger foundation towards our accomplishments.
Level two; our security, employment, resources, health and property, improve with the effort we put out. From infants to adults we provide for our physical and biological needs from day one, requiring us to learn as we go and eventually make it on our own. Anyone is capable of achieving the forms of this level. Some may have or require less, or more, but when you feel accomplished in, at the bare minimum even, in providing for your individual needs, it helps build your bridges in continuing forward. Some people require different resources when maintaining their self-living, but for the most part; we all have to finance our lives to get anywhere in life. This is one of the hardest realities at times, but can be very rewarding as you build your self-esteem with accomplishments.
Our lives are then continued in enrichment when we have people around us; family, friends, lovers, pets to love and give love to, those feelings pertain to individual trust and acceptance from those around you, no matter how many or how few, support is a great sustenance for our well being of mental and emotional health.
The feelings that resound around those of love and belonging are our level three in reaching towards self-actualization. To some, more than others, it can influence how we proceed in life; with determination, with fear, with desire, there are many emotions that can influence our need for change, our mental and emotional change. How we feel about ourselves has great influence. This is generally where most people get stuck. It’s kind of like our bubble of the basic needs of living being covered, but having no reason to improve, just maintain.
Here is the hardest part, level four, because now you have to challenge yourself, by building self-esteem, and wanting to become more than you are. This is a process of going back and forth in motivation and effort; the people around us influence our behaviors, which can hinder or ignite our progress. The lower version of self-esteem, where we try to impress or follow in the background of the worlds in front of us, works for or against us. If you feel unnoticed or put down, it may lead to feelings of inferiority in acceptance, that nothing you do could make this better. As hard as it could be, our higher self-esteem of over coming the influences of people and their judgment is trusting in yourself, by building your self-respect and taking on the negative.
And finally, our level of the piece de resistance, self-actualization, reaching for and realizing dreams can be done, you can accomplish your full potential, no matter what it may be. It could be being an athlete, or playing music, or being the best parent you can be, it doesn’t matter what the goal is as long as you’re reaching to accomplish it. We all want to feel happy, content, and safe in our lives, but what’s more, is feeling that what you desire and dream to be, can become reality.