Abraham Maslow was the first to define the self-actualization needs that are crucial for personal growth.
During Maslow’s time, psychology was largely focused on the diagnosis of mental illnesses. But instead of researching mental health afflictions, Maslow was more interested in understanding human potential and peak experiences.
His research yielded his theory of self-actualization and the hierarchy of self-actualization needs. It’s based on previous research and knowledge of humanistic psychology.
So, how does the hierarchy work, and how can you become self-actualized?
Here’s what you need to know about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
What Is Self Actualization In Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs?
By definition, becoming self-actualized is a series of steps in personal growth toward fulfilling a higher need, such as uncovering the meaning of life.
According to Maslow, people must fulfill a set of basic needs before they can become self-actualized. The hierarchy is often depicted as a pyramid.
Here is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, starting at the bottom of the pyramid:
1. Physiological needs
These are the basic needs for survival. They include sufficient nourishment, water, air, sleep, and other bodily functions.
In today’s world, many are able to meet these basic physical needs. Admittedly, you may struggle to get sufficient sleep. But there are effective ways to deal with this problem and boost your sleep quality over time.
Safety should be considered in the broadest sense of the word. At the basic level, it is the safety of your body, which involves freedom from physical harm and the maintenance of good health.
More broadly, safety also includes stable employment, sufficient resources, and prosperity.
3. Love and belonging
People who have met their basic physiological and security needs must next work to build meaningful relationships with others. The need for love and belonging includes maintaining family ties and fostering friendships. Sexual intimacy is another important aspect of love and belonging.
If you grow apart from your partner, it may become difficult to satisfy the third level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But as an aspiring self-actualizing individual, don’t hesitate to get creative. In this regard, you can turn to certain Eastern philosophies to achieve a better balance with your partner.
At this level, you are one step below self-actualization. Fulfillment of all the previous needs gives you confidence and a high sense of achievement. Self-esteem follows, but it shouldn’t be confused with pride.
Those who are this close to complete self-actualization show great respect of others. And they receive a lot of respect because of their achievements and hard work.
You’d have achieved your full potential to reach the pinnacle of your journey up the hierarchy of needs. As a self-actualized person, you exhibit exceptional creativity in every aspect of life.
You have well-established moral values and no prejudice. What’s more, each self-actualized individual accepts facts without trying to distort reality. This helps to solve problems regardless of how serious they might be.
Can you reach self-actualization?
To recap, self actualization needs can be divided into two categories – basic and personal growth. Basic needs are external and mostly driven by the way the world influences you.
However, the needs for personal growth are quite different. You stop caring about other people’s opinions. This doesn’t mean a lack of respect. But rather than your own growth is driven by something more intangible within.
Realize the values that you want to inject into your character.
-Jon Butcher, Author of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Program
Understanding the values that are important to you will help you meet your self-actualization needs quicker. Some may have to work on their social connections, while others may need more security in life.
Knowing which values to work on will help bring you closer to full self-actualization.
What part of Maslow’s hierarchy do you need to work on? Let us know in the comments below.