Self-Actualization: Where do You Stand?
Maslow theorized human beings to have a hierarchy of needs, with the ultimate achievement being what has been named as self-actualization (becoming your best self). Structured on a pyramid, the building blocks represent different motivators of human behavior, with the lowest levels being made up of basic needs and the higher levels representing more complex needs. Considered to be both rare and a great accomplishment, self-actualization is the path towards fulfillment that can be reached only once our base needs are met.
Maslow's theory states that there are other needs to have to come before being able to work on the principle of self-respect and respect for others. The needs include physiological needs, such as food, water, protection from the elements, fresh air, clothing, and sleep. When those needs are met, a person is free to work on the next level of the hierarchy, the need for security and safety, which comes from things such as employment, a stable home/family life, property, and good health. The next tier includes the need for love and belonging, which are met through friendship, family, intimacy, and a sense of connection.
Respect is defined as, "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements", also, "due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others". Recognizing the diversity found in humanity and understanding the significance of why respect is important, both towards yourself and others, is of great consequence on the path to self-actualization. The need to have respect given to you and to others falls in the second to last tier of the pyramid, right under self-actualization, meaning that Maslow believed that without this step, a person can never reach their fullest potential as a human being. When the need for respect is met, you can then to on to pursuits in the top tier, including the needs for morality, creativity, spontaneity, acceptance, and the experience of meaning and inner potential.
Peak experiences is a term used to describe certain experiences that are common in those that are self-actualized. They are transcendent moments of elation that stand out from everyday events, often likened to a spiritual experience.
Peak experiences explained:
While these experiences are not restricted solely to those that have reached self-actualization, they happen in greater frequency for individuals that are. A characteristic of being self-actualized is the frequent experience of these peak experiences, feeling overcome with the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened and that you were to some extent strengthened and transformed through the experience in question.
This may be in the form of introduction to or expansion of a concept, wherein your pattern of thought is forever changed when engaged in some creative moment. These experiences are thought to generate positive emotions, leading to heightened personal awareness and understanding, while enhancing one's sense of purpose and passion. Achieving an important goal or milestone, certain times with family or friends, awe-inspiring moments in nature, or emotions stemming from religious, athletic or other creative engagements, can all be examples for when a peak experience has the potential to take place.
Those do sound like special opportunities to strive towards, don't they?
Human beings have an innate need to connect with others. Having an interest in understanding those that you are close with is a natural urge, and we also have a deep need to feel understood. There are many ways in which you can gain perspective when you can consider and respect differences in people. Sometimes, we are even able to see that the way we have been going about something for a long time isn't serving is in the best way, and we can try something new. Improving your lifestyle and habits is something that you can forever edit and perfect. You will constantly change as a result of your life experiences, and so will your needs change.
Having respect for yourself is important in fully engaging with the world around you. Learning to love yourself can be a difficult yet worthwhile path, one that will revolutionize your internal life and relationships with others. When you respect yourself, you will feel more open to taking risks and opportunities that help you to fulfill your full potential, and you will stop looking to other people to give you a sense that you are enough. When you respect yourself, you will no longer be willing to accept hurtful ways that others treat you, and you will feel like you deserve to take good care of yourself. In order to love and respect another person fully and without condition, it is necessary for us to first have self-respect.
You may be wondering, "How will I know if I respect myself and show respect to other people?" There may be clues for you in your behavior to take a look at. Some examples of respectful ways of acting towards yourself and others are having positive attitudes (positives ways of thinking, talking, feeling and behaving), being open-minded (a willingness to consider new and different perspectives), being considerate (showing courtesy, being polite, showing kind regard), and supportiveness (helping others, caring for someone or something else). (from honecounsulting.com)
We also expect others to extend these same behaviors towards us. Some people do not even realize that some behaviors they have maybe disrespectful, and this can be due to sheer habit or not knowing any better. Some indicators that you could have some work to do in the respect department are negative attitudes (This is all about demonstrating negative attitudinal mindsets and characteristics towards someone or something or put in other words, it is a negative way of thinking, talking, feeling and behaving; closed-mindedness (a resistance and an unreceptiveness to anything new and different. It can also involve a narrow outlook or having and showing rigid opinions and beliefs); disregard (placing little or no importance on someone or something, and also paying little or no attention to someone or something); and antagonism (active opposition that can provoke and upset someone. Behavior could even be purposeful or planned active opposition to provoke and upset someone).
Ask yourself, what would you think if you saw another person acting this way, are you proud of your behavior? Or if someone is mistreating you, why do you feel like that is ok?
It is ok sometimes to not have all the answers. If you feel like a guide on your journey of self-growth would be a good thing to have, consider contacting a therapist online through BetterHelp.com. This platform of licensed mental health professionals is readily available to speak with you via messaging, chat, phone, or even video call about making life changes necessary for becoming your very best self. Interactions are confidential, convenient, and affordable.