Tag Archives: self-actualization means
Terms like self-actualization and validation are thrown around a lot today; as our culture steadily moves more and more toward the celebration of the individual, these phrases are often used as catchy descriptors for the realization and affirmation of the self… But where do they come from, and what processes truly underlie self-actualization?
The term self-actualization owes its origins to the Humanistic psychological theory, most notably the theories of Abraham Maslow. Maslow coined the term self-actualization to describe the growth of an individual toward fulfillment of their highest needs, those most advanced concepts and “big questions” humans struggle with, such as the pursuit of the meaning of life.
Maslow believed in, and created, a psychological hierarchy of needs (many of us are already familiar with Maslow’s pyramid of needs), the fulfillment of which culminates in the realization of a person’s “being values”, the very top of the pyramid which symbolizes meaning.
Maslow believed that individuals who managed to become self-actualized people were able to resolve common ideological conflicts, such as that between determinism and free will, due to their enhanced creativity and psychological robustness.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ascends in the following order:
- Physiological needs (physical, survival-based needs), such as the need for food, water, sleep and air. These are on the bottom of the pyramid and represent our most basic needs.
- The need for safety, security, and protection; the need for a stable and secure environment free from strife is next on the pyramid; human growth cannot progress beyond this stage without safety, as feeling safe allows people to cease thinking about their survival-based needs and move on to more intangible desires.
- The need for love and belonging comes next, love from family and partners, peer acceptance, etc. This love sets the stage for the next level of the pyramid:
- The need for self-esteem, self-respect, and respect from others; the fundaments of self-love, in essence.
- The “being” needs of creativity and the pursuit of meaning.