By Claudia Lee

Kurt Goldstein coined the term “self-actualization,” an idea which later influenced Abram Maslow’s work. Maslow is most famous for creating the hierarchy of needs — food, shelter, acceptance, love, and so on. His theory was that once the essential, base need were taken care of, one could reach the mental portal of self-discovery and spirituality.

Self-actualization is just that. It’s the realization of one’s talents and potential. It is recognizing the infinite energy within. The goal of actualization is to take the pure potentiality of your soul, and with it create something in the physical world. This is the art of actualizing. The first challenge is to master it while not always having the hierarchy met.

We were made to evolve. The constant growth that continues throughout life eschews our idea of “who we are.” We’re constantly searching for answers, because there is no answer our mind can understand. It cannot possibly keep up with the evolution of consciousness. Mind understanding and consciousness are two different things.

If we only focus on reaching the goal – which is to fully understand our identity and be the greatest version of ourselves – we are missing out on the actual purpose of a goal.

There is beauty in the struggle in figuring out who and what we are, why we feel certain ways and why we can’t understand certain things. We are growing in order to get to this self-fulfillment. The difference is that perfection is unattainable. Self-actualization is possible, but not through mental thought of reaching the “end goal,” the accomplishment.

You must accept that self-actualization is not a result but a process. It is not the top of the mountain, it is the hike. Through the hiking you’ll repeat the same wrong routes, come across lions and bears, not be able to start a fire, and get lost as you trek in the dark. This is as it should be. This is how it needs to be.

It’s okay not to be everything right now. Realistically speaking, we can and never will be our full potential in one standing moment. As we are progressing through this journey there is potential energy in us being absorbed and dispersed bit by bit every time we accomplish or fail.

This potentiality in us isn’t accumulated, but instead becomes a give and take with every experience we go through. It’s a glowing yellow ball in us, maybe even our soul, and the size keeps changing. This ideal self-actualization is saying this yellow ball of energy will one day encompass us—filling up the spaces between our bones—but what self-actualization really is is this constant flux of energy in us. This constant flux is what makes us human.

Image: Franca Giminez 

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