Self Actualisation: What Becoming Self-Actualised Means & How to Achieve It - Peter Boolkah

Many business owners strive for success yet miss out on one of the most transformative journeys of personal growth and development—self-actualization. Self-actualization is not just a fancy term thrown around in personal development circles. It is the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — the ultimate state of growth where one realizes and fulfills their potential. It’s about becoming the best version of oneself, a pathway that is as individual as we are. So, what does it truly mean to be self-actualized and how do we achieve this state? Let’s find out together.

What is Self-Actualisation?

Self-actualization involves realizing and fulfilling one’s inherent potential, an innate drive to evolve, achieve, and become the best version of oneself. The theory of self-actualization was first presented by the humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow in the mid-20th century, who posited that self-realization is the ultimate goal of life, sitting atop his famous hierarchy of basic needs. According to his definition, self-actualization involves one’s full involvement in life and the realization of that which one is capable of accomplishing.

This state is not a destination but an ongoing journey of growth and discovery. Being capable of becoming self-actualized is an internal process where one harnesses their abilities and talents, continually seeking to enrich their experience of life.

Simply put, a self-actualized individual isn’t confined by society’s norms or seeking validation externally. They are driven by their values, passions, and personal vision. They wholeheartedly pursue their aspirations, not out of obligation or fear, but driven by a genuine desire to unleash their extraordinary human potential.

A Little History of the Concept of Self-Actualization

The concept of self-actualization has deep historical roots, with its origins dating back to the mid-20th century. Let’s take a closer look at the history of this pivotal concept.

Kurt Goldstein

Kurt Goldstein was a German neurologist and psychiatrist who played an integral part in the development of the concept of self-actualization, even before Maslow popularized it. Goldstein, in his groundbreaking work, “The Organism”, introduced the idea of self-actualization as a key concept in human motivation. He proposed that every being has a fundamental drive towards self-fulfilment and actualization of their inherent potential.

This drive, according to Goldstein, acts as the guiding force that shapes our behaviour and decisions, steering us towards experiences that enable growth and personal evolution. His work, largely centered on the holistic understanding of the human being, provided a solid foundation for the later development of humanistic psychology.

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers, another influential figure in the realm of self-actualization, was an American psychologist renowned for his development of the client-centered therapeutic approach. Rogers believed that every individual possesses an ‘actualizing tendency’ – an innate drive towards growth, fulfillment, and the realization of one’s full potential. This principle was central to his client-centered therapy, where the aim was not to ‘fix’ the client but to provide a supportive environment that facilitated their journey towards self-actualization.

Rogers posited that three conditions were crucial for this journey: genuineness, acceptance (or unconditional positive regard), and empathic understanding. When these conditions are present, individuals are enabled to explore their experiences openly, gain self-insight, and move closer to becoming their authentic selves. Rogers’ work in humanistic psychology underscores the power of the individual in their personal development and emphasizes the importance of self-acceptance in the process of becoming self-actualized.

Self Actualisation - Peter Boolkah

Abraham Maslow – Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow, a prominent psychologist of the 20th century, is perhaps best known for his development of the Hierarchy of Needs – a model that delineates the sequence of human needs, from the most basic physical necessities to self-actualization as the ultimate goal. He defined self-actualization as self-fulfillment. According to Maslow’s theory, these needs are as follows:

  • Physiological Needs. According to Maslow, these are the necessities for human survival, such as food, water, sleep, and warmth. Until these needs are met, an individual will primarily be focused on satisfying them.
  • Safety Needs. Once physiological needs are met, the individual’s focus shifts to security and stability in their world.
  • Love and Belongingness Needs. These revolve around interpersonal relationships and our desire to be a part of a community. This includes the need for friendships, romantic attachments, and family.
  • Esteem Needs. This level involves the need for self-esteem and respect from others. Here, individuals seek achievement, competency, approval, and recognition.
  • Self-Actualisation Needs. At the pinnacle of Maslow’s pyramid, we find true self-actualization. This is the need to fulfill one’s potential and to become the best version of oneself.

Why Do We Need Self-Actualization? – The Importance of Self-Actualization for Personal Growth

Self-actualization is not just a lofty ideal to aspire towards, but a vital element in the journey of growth. Its importance is manifold and manifests in various facets of our lives.

Firstly, one of the main characteristics of self-actualization is a heightened sense of self-awareness. This self-knowledge allows them to understand their strengths, weaknesses, passions, and values deeply, which in turn aids in the setting of authentic, personally meaningful goals.

Moreover, research shows that with self-actualisation comes a greater capacity for autonomy. As self-actualized people are guided by their internal compass, they are more capable of making decisions and taking actions that align with their true selves, rather than being swayed by societal pressures or expectations.

Self-actualisation also fosters a sense of inner peace and contentment. Since self-actualizing people are driven by intrinsic motivation, they derive fulfilment from the process of striving towards their goals, rather than the attainment of external rewards or recognition.

Lastly, self-actualisation plays a critical role in fostering resilience. With a clear understanding of their capabilities and a genuine commitment to their goals, self actualized individuals are better equipped to navigate challenges and obstacles, viewing them as opportunities for growth instead of setbacks.

Characteristics of Self-Actualized People

Let’s delve into the unique traits that distinguish self-actualised individuals and shed light on their approach to life and growth.

Developed Sense of Purpose

Self-actualised individuals tend to have a strong sense of purpose that guides their actions and decisions. This is not merely about setting and pursuing goals, but about aligning these goals with their deeper values and convictions.

They have a clear vision of who they want to be and what they want to achieve, and this vision serves as their compass, providing direction and meaning to their lives. This profound sense of purpose, rooted in self-understanding and authenticity, empowers them to lead lives of intentionality and significance.


Self-actualised individuals frequently exhibit high levels of creativity. Their authentic self-expression and openness to experiences often manifest as an innate ability to think outside the box, generate novel ideas, and approach problems from unique perspectives.

This creativity isn’t confined to traditionally ‘creative’ pursuits like art or writing; it permeates all aspects of their lives, influencing their decision-making, problem-solving, and even their interpersonal relationships. It underlines their ability to envision possibilities, innovate, and bring about change, cementing their position as trailblazers and visionaries within their respective fields.


A cornerstone trait of self-actualised individuals is a profound sense of compassion. Unlike sympathy, which is about feeling for another, compassion is about feeling with another, understanding their perspective, and genuinely desiring to alleviate their suffering or discomfort. This compassion is not restricted to those in their personal circles; it extends to all of humanity, transcending boundaries of nationality, race, and culture. Through this trait, self-actualised individuals foster deep, meaningful connections with others and contribute positively to their communities.

Their compassion drives them to be kind, empathetic, and understanding, which in turn enriches their own lives and those of others. This attribute not only strengthens their interpersonal relationships but also bolsters their growth by fostering patience, understanding, and a broader perspective on life.


Self-actualised individuals are often characterised as being grounded. This signifies that they manifest a sense of calm, stability, and oneness with themselves and their surroundings, no matter what life throws their way. Their grounded nature stems from their deep self-awareness and strong inner compass, which ensures that they remain true to their core beliefs and values, irrespective of external circumstances.

This inner stability enables them to maintain perspective, even amidst life’s chaos, and respond to situations with wisdom and equanimity. Plus, their grounded demeanor fosters a sense of trust and reliability among others, making them effective leaders and role models.


Self-actualised individuals typically exhibit a strong sense of self-determination. This characteristic reflects their intrinsic motivation and personality, as well as the confidence they place in their own abilities to shape their life’s course. Self-determination manifests in their ability to set meaningful and challenging goals for themselves, and the drive and initiative they exhibit in pursuing these goals. It is underpinned by a belief in their own agency and an understanding that they are the architects of their own lives.

This autonomous nature doesn’t mean they disregard the need for help or collaboration, but rather that they are selective in their influences, choosing to align with those that resonate with their authentic selves. Being self-determined helps them navigate the road to success, fostering resilience, perseverance, and a sense of personal fulfilment. It is a powerful trait that propels them towards their ambitions while staying true to their values and beliefs.

Appreciate Small Things in Life

Self-actualised individuals often radiate a deep appreciation for the small things in life. They are deeply in tune with their surroundings and find joy in simple, everyday moments – be it the warmth of the sun, the sound of rain on a window, a steaming cup of tea, or a heartfelt conversation with a friend. This ability to derive pleasure from seemingly minor experiences stems from their heightened sense of awareness and presence in the moment.

They understand that life is a collection of these small moments and that true happiness lies not in the grandeur of achievements or materialistic pursuits, but in cherishing the ordinary and finding the extraordinary within it. This attitude not only enriches their existence but also fosters gratitude, promoting psychological well-being and a more fulfilling life.

Live Spontaneously

Self-actualised individuals often exhibit an admirable ability to live spontaneously. This trait doesn’t imply reckless impulsiveness; rather it represents a deep-rooted sense of freedom to act in sync with their true selves, uninhibited by societal pressures or constraints. They are willing to seize opportunities as they come, enjoying the thrill of the unexpected and the unfamiliar. They adapt effortlessly to new situations, demonstrating an intrinsic flexibility that underlies their resilience.

This spontaneity extends to their decision-making, problem-solving abilities, and even their relationships, often offering an element of surprise and delight to those around them. It enriches their life experiences, promotes growth, and ultimately, contributes to their journey towards self-actualisation. Their ability to live spontaneously complements their other traits, creating a harmonious blend that defines their authentic and fulfilling existence.

Good Ethical Judgement

Self-actualised individuals are often noted for their good ethical judgement. This trait reflects their ability to discern right from wrong, make informed decisions, and act in accordance with their deep-seated values and principles. They demonstrate an unwavering commitment to fairness, honesty, and integrity, even when confronted with complex or challenging circumstances.

Their ethical judgement extends beyond mere compliance with societal norms and regulations; it is a manifestation of their authentic selves, resonating with their inherent belief in the greater good and the fundamental dignity of all beings. This ethical grounding guides their actions and relationships, fostering trust, respect, and mutual understanding among those they interact with. Moreover, it solidifies their sense of responsibility and accountability, contributing significantly to their pursuit of self-actualisation.

Self-Actualized People

How to Achieve Self-Actualization

Now that we’ve explored the characteristics of self-actualised individuals, let’s delve into some practical strategies you can adopt to embark on your personal journey towards self-actualisation.

1. Know and Accept Yourself

Knowing and accepting oneself forms the cornerstone of the journey towards self-actualisation. At its core, it involves developing a deep understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, passions, and values. It’s about embracing who you are, not just at your best, but also at your most vulnerable. This process may involve self-reflection, introspection, and even confronting aspects of yourself that you may have previously ignored or denied. It’s about accepting your imperfections, acknowledging your failures, and celebrating your unique qualities.

This process not only fosters self esteem and confidence but also cultivates authenticity, enabling you to live in alignment with your true self. And remember, this self-awareness journey isn’t a destination but a lifelong process, continually evolving with each new experience and insight. Embracing it paves the way towards self-actualisation.

2. Remove Self-Doubt and Negativity

Eliminating self-doubt and negativity is a pivotal step on the road to self-actualisation. It begins with acknowledging these feelings, understanding their sources, and consciously combating them. Negative thoughts and self-doubt often stem from past experiences, perceived failures, or fear of the unknown. These emotions can be paralysing, hindering progress and growth. However, it is essential to remember that these feelings are not indicative of your personal potential or worth.

To overcome self-doubt, cultivate positive self-talk, and reinforce your belief in your abilities. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small, and learn from your mistakes rather than letting them define you. Practising mindfulness and meditation can also help alleviate negativity, promoting mental clarity and fostering a positive outlook.

3. Look for New Opportunities

Embracing new opportunities is a crucial aspect of self-actualisation. This approach encourages embracing change and stepping out of your comfort zone, both essential for growth. Consider these opportunities as gateways to self-discovery, learning, and development. They could be anything from attending a workshop, starting a new hobby, to networking with people from diverse backgrounds.

The key is to remain open and receptive, understanding that each encounter offers valuable lessons and experiences that can contribute to your self-actualisation. It’s also important to remember that these opportunities may not always lead to success, and that’s perfectly okay. Each attempt, whether it leads to success or not, fosters resilience and provides insights that bring you one step closer to becoming self-actualised.

4. Develop a Growth Mindset

Developing a growth mindset is crucial on your journey towards self-actualization. It’s all about believing that abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work, dedication, and a love for learning. Instead of seeing challenges as roadblocks, those with a growth mindset view them as opportunities for growth. Failures are seen as stepping stones to progress, not as reasons to give up.

A growth mindset values effort over innate talent and embraces the belief that improvement is always possible. It encourages resilience, perseverance, and a continuous thirst for knowledge. To cultivate a growth mindset, start by reframing failure as a natural part of the learning process. Embrace challenges with enthusiasm, maintain a positive outlook, and actively seek feedback for improvement.

5. Learn to Be Independent

Becoming independent is a pivotal step on your journey towards self-actualisation. It signifies the ability to make decisions and take actions that are in line with your own beliefs and values, without overly relying on the approval or support of others. Independence doesn’t mean isolation or self-sufficiency in all aspects of life; rather, it reflects emotional and intellectual autonomy. It involves having the confidence to trust your judgement and make choices that resonate with your personal truth.

To foster independence, start by developing self-reliance. Believe in your abilities and make an effort to learn new skills or pursue new knowledge. Practice making decisions on your own, starting with small, everyday choices, and gradually working your way up to more significant decisions. It’s crucial to accept that mistakes are a part of this process, as they provide valuable learning experiences. Cultivating independence will not only boost your self-confidence but also empower you to live authentically, furthering your journey towards self-actualisation.

6. Have Peak Experiences

Peak experiences are profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture, that stand out from everyday events. Often described as transcendent moments of pure joy and elation, these are moments that stand out from everyday events. They tend to leave behind a lasting sense of fulfilment, empowerment, and wonder. Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who coined the term, believed that these experiences often accompany increased growth and understanding, crucial elements towards the path of self-actualisation.

To have more peak experiences, strive to embrace the present moment and live authentically. This means valuing your own passions, beliefs, and individuality, over societal expectations or norms. It could be a revelatory moment on your favourite hiking trail, the joy of mastering a challenging new skill, or a simple, silent moment of connection with a loved one. Recognise these moments, cherish them, and let them guide you towards self-actualisation— they are reminders that life is about the journey, not the destination. As you continue to grow and evolve, these experiences will serve as powerful reminders of your progress along the path to self-actualisation.

7. Pause and Reflect

Taking a moment to pause and reflect is as vital as any other steps on your journey towards self-actualisation. Reflection is a powerful tool that allows you to gain deeper insights into your experiences, behaviours, and emotions. It enables you to identify areas of strength, as well as areas that may need improvement or change.

Regular reflection can also help you stay aligned with your core values, ensuring your actions and decisions are congruent with your beliefs. This practice may take many forms, from maintaining a journal to practising mindfulness meditation. The key is to allocate some quiet time for introspection, free from distractions, where you can genuinely engage with your thoughts and emotions.

8. Talk to a Therapist or Life Coach

Having meaningful conversations with a therapist or life coach can really speed up your journey towards self-actualization. These professionals offer valuable perspectives and tools to help you untangle your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a safe and supportive space. A therapist can assist you in addressing and overcoming emotional barriers that might be hindering your path to self-actualization, while a life coach can provide practical strategies and guidance to help you set and achieve personal goals.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve self-actualization on your own, but having a supportive professional can make the process smoother and give you much-needed insight and validation. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness but an empowering act that shows your dedication to self-actualization. Whether you choose a therapist, a life coach, or both, the relationship should be built on trust, respect, and a mutual understanding that the journey to self-actualization is a profoundly personal and unique experience.

Tips to Help You Become Self-Actualized

Embarking on the journey to become self-actualised can seem like a daunting task, but remember, it’s a personal and unique path that is not about perfection, but perpetual growth and self-discovery. Here are some practical tips to navigate this path more effectively. These are not a quick fix, but tried-and-tested strategies that can make the journey smoother and more meaningful.

Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others

In the pursuit of self-actualisation, one must resist the tendency to measure oneself against others. Each individual’s journey is unique, shaped by distinctive experiences, aspirations, and growth. Comparisons can distort your self-perception, breed insecurity, and detract from your accomplishments. Instead of looking to others as a metric of success, cultivate self-compassion and acknowledge your own progress, no matter how small.

Be Aware of Your Defense Mechanisms

We all have defence mechanisms that we deploy, often subconsciously, to protect ourselves from perceived threats or uncomfortable realities. They might come in the form of denial, projection, rationalisation, or even humour. While these mechanisms can provide temporary relief from discomfort, they can also hinder our journey towards self-actualisation by shielding us from essential truths about ourselves and our experiences. Increasing your awareness of these defence mechanisms is a crucial step towards self-actualisation.

Start by observing your reactions to different situations, noting any patterns that arise. Are there certain circumstances that routinely prompt you to respond defensively? Are you dismissing your feelings or blaming others? By recognising and understanding these behaviours, you can begin to challenge and change them.

Become at Peace with Your Life

In your pursuit of self-actualisation, it is pivotal to find peace with your life— with your past, present, and future. This doesn’t mean passively accepting things as they are, but rather acknowledging your life experiences without judgment, understanding they have shaped the person you are today. Reflect on your past, both your triumphs and trials, and recognise their role in your growth. Embrace the present, both its joys and challenges, for it is in the present that we have the power to shape our reality.

And as for the future, acknowledge it, but do not let it overshadow your present. Worrying excessively about what’s to come can lead to anxiety and prevent you from fully living in the moment. Finding peace with your life also involves letting go of resentment, guilt, or shame that may be holding you back. Practising forgiveness, particularly self-forgiveness, can be powerful in this regard.

Let Go of Beliefs That Are Limiting or Have Outlived Their Purpose

Becoming self-actualised often involves shedding beliefs that constrain us or have outlived their usefulness. These beliefs can stem from childhood experiences, societal conditioning, or past failures, and often serve to protect us from potential danger or discomfort. However, whilst useful in certain contexts, these beliefs may limit our growth and prevent us from reaching our full potential.

For example, the belief that we’re ‘not good enough’ can keep us from taking risks and pursuing our dreams. To let go of such limiting beliefs, it’s important first to recognise them. Reflection, mindfulness practices, or therapy can aid in this process. Once identified, these beliefs can be challenged and reframed. This process may not be easy and may bring discomfort, but it’s a necessary step towards self-actualisation.

Learn to Ask for Help When Needed

Often, we equate self-reliance with strength, and asking for help as a sign of weakness. This mindset, while seemingly empowering, can ultimately hinder our journey to self-actualisation. Learning to ask for help when needed is not only a strength, but also an essential skill that allows us to tap into the collective wisdom and experience of others. Recognise that we all have limitations and blind spots, and that seeking advice or assistance isn’t an admission of defeat, but a nod to our shared humanity.

Whether it’s reaching out to a mentor for guidance, acquiring new skills through education, or seeking support from loved ones during challenging times, asking for help can broaden our perspectives, accelerate our growth, and move us closer to becoming self-actualised. Embrace it as part of your journey, and remember, no one achieves greatness in isolation.

Keep Growing and Learning

An integral part of the journey towards self-actualisation is the commitment to constant growth and learning. This commitment involves fostering a mindset of curiosity, and the willingness to step out of your comfort zone to embrace new experiences. It’s about understanding that there’s always room for improvement, and that every day presents an opportunity to learn something new, be it about ourselves, others, or the world around us. Embrace learning not just in your professional life, but also in your personal life.

Read widely, take up new hobbies, seek diverse perspectives, and challenge your assumptions. Keep in mind that growth isn’t always linear, and learning can sometimes involve unlearning old habits, patterns or beliefs. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes or encountering failures along the way, as they are valuable teachers in their own right. Keep in mind that the journey towards self-actualisation is not a destination, but a continuous process of self-discovery, growth, and transformation.

Finding Humour in a Given Situation

Examples of Self-Actualization in Daily Life

In our daily lives, self-actualisation is often subtly woven into our routines and interactions, sometimes going unnoticed. These moments are the threads that, when woven together, create a tapestry of self-discovery and growth. They can range from small everyday actions to significant life decisions.

Finding Humour in a Given Situation

In daily life, a self-actualised individual may often find humour in situations where others may not. Not to trivialise or dismiss the gravity of the situation, but to lighten the mood and diffuse tension. For instance, they might use humour to navigate a stressful work meeting or to cope with an unexpected setback. This ability to laugh, even in the face of adversity, is a testament to their resilience and positive outlook on life.

Enjoying the Present Moment

A self-actualised person knows the value of living in the present. Whether it’s savouring a cup of tea on a quiet morning, appreciating the beauty of a sunset, or immersing themselves in a good book, they extract enjoyment and satisfaction from the present moment. They do not let past regrets or future anxieties overshadow their current experiences. This mindful approach to living allows them to experience life more fully and deeply.

Understanding Personal Needs for Fulfilment

Self-actualised individuals have a keen understanding of what they need to gain a sense of fulfilment. They might realise that they find fulfilment not just in achieving career milestones, but also in nurturing relationships, pursuing passions, or helping others. This understanding guides their decisions and actions, aligning them with their values and goals. For example, they might choose to decline a lucrative job offer that doesn’t align with their values, or devote their free time to a cause they feel passionate about.

Feeling Secure and Unashamed in Their Identity

A self-actualised person tends to feel secure and unashamed in who they are. They embrace their strengths and weaknesses, their quirks and idiosyncrasies, without the need for external validation. They might not conform to societal standards or expectations if these clash with their authentic selves. For instance, they might proudly express their unconventional views, or confidently pursue an unconventional career path, despite criticism or disapproval. This self-assuredness stems from their deep sense of self-worth and acceptance, making them secure in their identity.

What Prevents People From Reaching Self-Actualization?

While the journey of self-actualisation is unique and empowering, there are often roadblocks that can hinder one’s progress towards achieving this state. Understanding these barriers can be instrumental in navigating the path towards becoming your truest, fullest self. In this section, we’ll delve into the common obstacles that individuals often encounter on their journey to self-actualisation.

Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues can often serve as substantial barriers to self-actualisation. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders can cloud one’s perception of self and the world, skewing the lens through which we view our capabilities and potential. These conditions can engender feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, impeding the pursuit of growth and fulfillment. Moreover, societal stigma surrounding mental health can further compound these issues, preventing individuals from seeking the help they need.

It’s crucial to understand that mental health issues are not a personal failing but a legitimate health concern that requires attention and care. And, moving up the highest level of the pyramid and achieving higher levels of self-actualization becomes challenging when mental health needs are not attended to. Tretment options, including therapy, medication, or lifestyle changes, can effectively manage these conditions and aid in the journey towards self-actualisation.

Self-Esteem Issues

Issues with self esteem can significantly impede one’s self-actualizing journey. A lack of self esteem often stems from internalised negative beliefs about oneself, formed due to past experiences of failure, criticism, or rejection. Such beliefs can limit one’s view of their potential, leading to a fear of failure or rejection that prevents them from pursuing their true passions and desires.

An individual with low self esteem might also engage in self-sabotaging behaviours, such as procrastination or avoidance, which further hinder growth and fulfillment. Developing a healthier self esteem involves challenging these negative self-beliefs, celebrating achievements, and cultivating self-compassion.

Lack of Motivation

Lack of motivation can serve as a significant barrier to self-actualising. It can stem from various factors, such as feeling overwhelmed, fear of failure, or lack of clear goals. If individuals feel that their efforts won’t yield meaningful results, or if the tasks at hand appear too daunting, they may lack the drive to pursue their goals.

This can result in a vicious cycle where lack of motivation leads to lack of progress, which further diminishes motivation. Breaking this cycle involves setting clear, achievable goals, celebrating small victories, and cultivating a growth mindset. It’s crucial to remember that progress is often slow and incremental, and that every journey begins with a single step.

Poor Time Management

Poor time management can also hinder the process of self-actualization. Struggling to manage time effectively can lead to chronic stress, overwhelming workloads, and a persistent sense of being rushed, which can all hinder growth. It’s often the case that individuals spend too much time on unimportant tasks or get caught in the trap of procrastination, leaving little time for activities that promote self-growth and actualisation.

However, developing good time management skills is a learnable and achievable goal. It begins with identifying and setting priorities, breaking larger tasks into manageable chunks, and eliminating distractions wherever possible. Allocating dedicated time for personal development activities and self-care is also essential.

Lack of Self-Expression

Lack of self-expression is a significant obstacle on the path to self-actualisation. When one suppresses their true thoughts, feelings, and desires, they deny the world the opportunity to recognise them in their authentic form. This suppression, often due to societal pressures or fear of judgment, can lead to a sense of dissatisfaction, frustration, or even identity crisis, hindering personal growth and self-fulfillment. People may feel compelled to conform to societal norms or expectations, thus stifling their unique perspectives and creative impulses.

However, self-expression is a vital component of self-actualisation. It involves embracing your individuality, expressing your thoughts and feelings openly, and pursuing activities that align with your passions and values. Engaging in creative pursuits, practicing open communication, and seeking environments that encourage individuality can foster a greater sense of self-expression.


Procrastination, the delay or avoidance of tasks that need to be accomplished, is another significant barrier to self-actualisation. Procrastination is often a response to feeling overwhelmed, fear of failure, or having unclear goals. It can lead to a cycle of avoidance, guilt, and stress, which further impedes progress. Notably, procrastination is not a reflection of one’s ability or potential, but rather a behavioural pattern that can be unlearned.

Overcoming procrastination involves breaking tasks into manageable chunks, setting clear and achievable goals, and cultivating a growth mindset. Using time management tools and techniques, such as the “Pomodoro Technique”, can also be helpful. It’s essential to remember that progress is often gradual and that even small steps towards accomplishing goals can bring one closer to self-actualisation.


Often arising from demanding situations, challenging workloads, or personal struggles, stress can hinder our ability to think clearly, make decisions, and take action towards our goals. It can create a sense of overwhelm, exacerbate negative emotions, and even lead to physical health issues. Furthermore, when under severe stress, individuals may resort to unhelpful coping mechanisms such as procrastination, avoidance, or self-sabotage. In order to overcome this barrier, it’s essential to develop effective stress management skills.

This could include mindfulness practices, regular physical activity, or engaging in relaxing hobbies. It’s also about building resilience, which involves maintaining a positive mindset, setting realistic expectations, and viewing challenges as opportunities for growth rather than as threats.

What Happens After Self-Actualization? Self-Transcendence

After reaching self-actualisation, an individual typically experiences a shift towards self-transcendence. This is a state of consciousness that transcends the individual self, fostering a deeper connection with others, nature, and the universe as a whole. The focus turns from ‘me’ to ‘we’, extending beyond growth to contribute towards the wellbeing and growth of others.

This might be through acts of kindness, mentorship, or creating something that benefits society. It involves a profound sense of purpose, and a feeling of being a part of something larger than oneself. The journey doesn’t end here, though. Self-transcendence is an ongoing process, just like self-actualisation.


How many people are self-actualized?

While it’s difficult to provide an exact number of self-actualised individuals, it’s generally accepted that self-actualisation is a rare state. American psychologist Abraham Maslow, who developed the concept of self-actualisation, suggested that only about 1% of the adult population reaches this stage of personal growth.

However, it’s important to note that self-actualisation is not a final destination, but rather a continual process of growth and development. It’s a journey that requires ongoing commitment and effort.

What is an example of self-actualization at work?

Self-actualisation at work could manifest in several ways. An individual might be self-actualised if they have found a career that aligns with their personal values, passions, and strengths, enabling them to utilise their skills to the fullest. For instance, a teacher who is deeply passionate about shaping young minds and influencing their future positively might see their role as more than just a job, but a fulfilling mission. This teacher doesn’t work merely for paycheck or promotion but for the satisfaction and fulfillment derived from seeing their students grow, develop, and succeed.

They continually strive to improve their teaching methods, staying open to feedback and learning, and seeking out opportunities for professional growth. This example illustrates self-actualisation at work – where one’s professional life is not just about surviving, but about thriving and making a meaningful impact.

Are narcissists self-actualized?

While at first glance, narcissists may seem self-actualised due to their high self-esteem and apparent confidence, they are in fact, far from it. Narcissism is characterised by an inflated sense of self-importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. These traits are starkly contrasted with the characteristics of self-actualised individuals, who are typically empathetic, humble, and focused more on personal growth rather than seeking admiration or affirmation from others.

Furthermore, self-actualisation involves recognising and accepting one’s weaknesses, something that narcissists often struggle with. Therefore, despite the surface-level similarities, narcissism and self-actualisation are fundamentally different concepts.

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