Four levels of self-actualization and how do I get to the top?
Self-actualization – a term that has always been in the limelight in terms of personal achievement, growth, and contentment. It is considered a state of maturity and enlightenment where one is found in utmost harmony with oneself – the present as well as the past. It is also about your growth and realistic assessment in view of your personal development. Self-actualization means believing in your abilities, accepting yourself the way you are, and making yourself better each day.
Hearing it from experts, ‘self-actualization is the psychological process aimed at maximizing the use of a person’s abilities and resources, and is a variable process for everyone.’ Abraham Maslow, a renowned American psychologist, expresses self-actualization as, ‘What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.’
While this definition of self-actualization may seem fancy, it is a rigorous and ongoing process of shedding old layers and making oneself grow each day. Interestingly, self-actualization is independent of one’s age, gender, or financial status. There is no single characteristic trait or career that lends itself to self-actualization. So, the self-actualization process and outcome vary for individuals. For ease of understanding, the process has been classified into four phases – the four levels of self-actualization, so one can determine one’s progress over time. It would not be wrong if we consider self-actualization process as elevation levels. Let’s dive deep!
Levels of self-actualization
In the well-known Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, self-actualized state has been considered the highest level for which the following human needs have to be met;
- Physiological Aspects
One can think and act great only if one’s basic survival needs are met i.e. food, shelter, clothing and health needs. According to Maslow, these basic physiological needs must be fulfilled before one moves on to the higher levels of self-discovery.
Like physiological needs, it is also important that the basic needs of safety and protection are met so one can think freely and perform well.
- Love and belonging
The feeling of belonging and being loved doesn’t merely enhance one’s confidence and connections but also is essential for one’s physical and emotional wellbeing. This is what creates bonds and provides warmth and collaboration. The exuberance of connecting, staying close, and getting support from your loved ones is priceless. On the contrary, the lack of it drains you of affection, connection, joy, and even health.
The social needs, when met, fill a person with contentment, encouragement, and empowerment that contribute to the solid foundation of self-actualization
Esteem – the level closest to self-actualization – stems from two parameters; esteem which is built by acknowledgment, appreciation, and respect and from others, and esteem which you create on your own through achieving personal development goals. Though both types substantially contribute to the creation of your self-esteem, the latter type shares the major contribution. And that is why it is more emphasized that you learn to know and work on your inner core in order to succeed in self-actualization. To effectuate this process, you can seek guidance from a coach to learn the nitty gritty of this life-reforming process.
Maslow’s definition of self-actualization says that ‘it is about utilizing and leveraging one’s full talents, capabilities, and potentialities. Such people seem to be fulfilling themselves and to be doing the best that they are capable of doing. They are people who have developed or are developing to the full stature of which they capable.’
Self-actualization can be loosely divided into the following four levels. Through thorough self-assessment, you can get to know your progress so you can make it to the top.
- Morality and Integrity
Integrity implies living by ethical principles in every aspect of life. Having integrity means abiding by the rules and moral values. You become self-actualized when you stay true to yourself and take your core value into consideration while working or connecting with others.
- Problem-centering approach and creativity
Self-actualization enables you to shift your focus from problem to its solution. It fosters creativity and enhances positivity in you that are essential for your growth.
Being truly self-aware and of the world around them, the self-actualized individuals are spontaneous and firm in their thoughts and actions. They seem more determined and resolute and thus perform well in whatever responsibility they are given.
- Acceptance and self-fulfillment
The elevated level of self-actualization comprises acceptance; acceptance of yourself, your surroundings, and of the people around you. It is about your accurate perception of the world around you. Only then you can be in a harmonious state that is free from incongruities. This is where you wholly accept what you are, what’s controllable, and what’s not. And this is how you utilize your energy and all the valuable resources in the best possible way.