Humans strive to express their capabilities fully, and that this is the basis for happiness.
People who seek the frontiers of creativity and strive to reach higher levels of consciousness and wisdom, were described by Maslow as 'self-actualizing' individuals. Transformational psychology is not therapy, it is information and techniques to enable healthy persons to make their lives even better, to fulfill their potential - it is for you. (Abraham Maslow)
Characteristics of Self-Actualizing Persons
Central to the lives of self-actualized people is a set of values that Maslow called the Being-Values, or B-Values. These characteristics apply equally to both men and women, of course.
- They are realistically oriented and not threatened by the unknown. They have a superior ability to reason and to see the truth.
- They perceive and understand human nature. They accept themselves, other people, circumstances and the natural world for what they are. They able to learn from anyone and are friendly with anyone, with no regard to stereotypes.
- They are emotionally intelligent and feel no need for crippling guilt or shame. They tend to be serene, characterized by a lack of worry. They are self starters, are responsible for themselves, and own their behavior. Work becomes play and desires are in excellent accord with reason.
- They are unflappable and retain dignity amid confusion and personal misfortune, all the while remaining objective.
- They have a great deal of spontaneity and have no unnecessary inhibitions.
- The self-actualized person can be alone and not be lonely.
- They are honest and seek justice for all.
- They are autonomous and independent. Thoughts and impulses are unhampered by convention. Their ethics are autonomous and they determine their own inner moral standards.
- They have a fresh rather than stereotyped appreciation of people and appreciate the best aspects in all things. However they resist conformity to the culture. They determine their own behavior and have their own views on people and events.
- Moment to moment living for them is exciting and often exhilarating as they live their life to the full. Vibrant moments are frequent and peak experiences not unusual. Peak experiences are moments when one sees clearly what before was hidden or obscured.
- They seek wholeness; they are able to merge opposing views into a third, higher synthesis, as though the two have united; therefore, opposite forces are no longer felt as conflict. Self-actualizing people retain their childlike qualities and yet have a far-seeing wisdom.
- Their intimate relationships with specially loved people tend to be profound, sincere and long-lasting, rather than superficial.
- Their sense of humor is philosophical rather than hostile. They can laugh at themselves but never make jokes that hurt others.
- Self-actualizing people enjoy an inborn uniqueness that carries over into everything they do. Their creativity is original, inventive, uninhibited and - since they see the real and true more easily - valuable.
- Self-actualizing individuals are motivated to continual growth. They are also aware of their primary goals in life and are devoted to fulfilling them, both for their own benefit and as service to others.
Maslow set up a hierarchical theory of needs in which the basic survival needs are the first priority, and the needs concerned with man's highest potential follow on when other needs have been met.
The needs for oxygen, food, water and a relatively constant body temperature. These needs are the strongest because if deprived, the person would die.
Children often display signs of insecurity and their need to be safe. Adults, too, need the security of a home and means of income, and often have an underlying fear that these may be lost, e.g. in war or times of social unrest, or due to misfortune. Fear is the opposite flow to need. Accompanying any need for something is an equivalent fear of losing or not obtaining it.
This includes the need for mastery to be able to get one's own way, to establish some control over one's situation and environment, to express some degree of personal power, to be able to communicate and obtain objectives. And the need for love, affection and belonging. People need to escape feelings of loneliness and alienation and to give (and receive) love and affection, and to have a sense of belonging with high quality communication (with understanding and empathy).
People need to feel good about themselves, to feel that they have earned the respect of others, in order to feel satisfied, self confident and valuable. If these needs are not met, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.
Maslow describes self-actualization as a person's need to be and do that for which the person has a vocation. It is his 'calling', a full expression of his or her creative potential. It is to be autonomous and fully-functioning. If these needs are not met, the person feels restless and frustrated, even if successful in other respects.