Self-Actualization

"What a man can be, he must be." - Abraham Maslow

Most of us have been on a mission for most of our lives trying to improve our situation in life. It’s what has driven our society and our economy to become the powerhouse that it is today. We strive to buy our first house, or a bigger one, and a nicer car, and vacations to far off places, while staying in luxury hotels. It is what has driven us to show up everyday in a job we hate and answer to bosses that we can’t stand. But attaining what we desire in life always seems to be just out of reach, and when we do attain it, we eventually lose the satisfaction it brought us and we seek something even better.

It is the rare few that find what they are seeking in life and reach a level of contentment that the rest of us wish we had. But it’s even fewer that reach that level with very much time left to enjoy it. Most of us seek these things like a dog chasing a car, not knowing what to do with it once we catch it.

Most of us focus our attention on the external things around us that are preventing us from achieving our goals, but the problem is that what’s holding us back is not what’s around us, it’s what’s within us. And fixing the internal stuff can feel a lot more intimidating than fixing the external stuff. But in truth, it’s what’s inside us is what we have truly have control over.

Your success in life depends more on the person you
become than on the things you do or acquire.- Brian Tracy

Becoming a Better Person
The term "self-actualization" may not universally convey Maslow's observations; this motivation refers to focusing on becoming the best person that one can possibly strive for in the service of both the self and others.


Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Our Programming
We have all been conditioned to be the person we are since the day we were born (maybe even before). This conditioning has been reinforced our entire life by our parents and extended family, our schools and the teachers they employed, the media via the screens that we worshiped through our childhood, and our workplace via the careers we “chose”.

This conditioning has been so pervasive that we never even suspected it was happening. Every decision that we have made for our entire lives has been based on this conditioning and when the consequences were not what we had hoped they would be, we wondered why we made that decision in the first place.

Day by day, at home, at school, at church, and from television, we are told how to live, and what kind of behavior is acceptable. - from The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

This all may be true, but it doesn’t make us victims. If we allow ourselves to be victims, we are saying that we have no control over the events that shape our lives and dictate our future. And if we don’t have the power to shape the events of our future, then who does.

We are the only ones that have the power to determine the course of our lives. And this is actually the best news, because we can get off this path that we did not create our ourselves and start down a new one of our own creation. One that will lead us to become the person we choose, living the life of our choosing.

You are not responsible for the person you have become, but you are responsible for who you will become.

Our Deprogramming or Reprogramming
There is no one to blame. This needs to be repeated - There is no one to blame. We can blame our parents for how we were raised, but they were just raising us based on their own programming. We can blame society, but society is just a whole bunch of individuals seeking their own personal fulfillment, just like us. We can blame our teachers, we can blame, the government, we can even blame the media. But whoever it is to “blame” for how we turned out, in the end it just doesn’t matter, because it isn’t going to change anything. It is us that have to make the changes in our lives that we need to make.

True change, will only happen when we realize that we are responsible for making that change and it will only happen when we take the actions necessary to make it happen.

The most important step in emancipating oneself from social controls is the ability to find rewards in the events of each moment. If a person learns to enjoy and find meaning in the ongoing stream of experience, in the process of living itself, the burden of social controls automatically falls from one’s shoulders. Power returns to the person when rewards are no longer relegated from outside forces. Instead of forever straining for the tantalizing prize dangled just out of reach, one begins to harvest the genuine rewards of living. - from Flow - The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

So lets start our reprogramming:
  • Take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself - "Is this where I want to be?" If not, then ask yourself - "How did I get here?" or "How am I responsible?"
  • Once you figure this out, and it may take a while, then start figuring out who you want to be and where do you want your life to go. This is the reprogramming part.
  • Then figure out what you will need to do to become that person. This could take even more time, as in a lifetime. No one said it was going to be quick and easy.
  • Finally, when you have figured out who you want to be and how you will become that person, you should ask yourself if being this new person will excite you. Will you be excited doing the things that this new you will be doing.
  • If you are thoroughly excited to become this new person, then you have discovered your life goal and you are on your way!

Ultimately, by discovering the answers to these questions, you may realize that you are ready to disassociate yourself from the programming of your childhood and begin to develop a new path of your own design. A path filled with happy, exciting experiences that lead, ultimately, to a life of contentment.

It Really is About The Journey
Whatever you thought your true desire in life was, if it wasn't happiness, if it wasn't something that would truly excite you, you probably struggled to attain it because it wasn't what you deep down desired. But if you find yourself working daily toward what you truly desire in life, then ta da, you have already succeeded! You have achieved success in the only thing that really matters in life! Being happy. Congrats!

A Word of Warning
The thing that we really need to spend our time on is not achieving our life's desire, but discovering just what that desire is. For most of us, what we think we want, is not what we really deep down desire. From childhood to adulthood, we have been programmed to think, feel, and act in a way that society says we should. So we base our life's goals and desires on what society tells us they should be. Society is rarely right.

We will only allow ourselves to be judged to the level that we judge ourselves. Anything more and we will rebel.

Further Study:

The obstacle is the way