What is self-actualization: 8 main principles

From the point of view of psychology, self-actualization is considered as a comprehensive disclosure of a person’s potential, the activation of all his capabilities and talents, aimed at achieving success. In such conditions, a person begins to perceive himself as a full-fledged and harmonious personality. That is why it is so important throughout life to strive to realize oneself in all directions. In this article we will take a closer look at what self-actualization is, what are the principles underlying it and how to achieve it.

What is self-actualization?

Self-actualization is the disclosure of an individual’s personal potential, predispositions and strengths. It manifests itself in the desire of the individual to determine his personal capabilities and develop them to the highest possible level. The process of personality self-actualization directly depends on the presence of favorable social and historical conditions, while it cannot be dictated by society or culture from the outside.

A. Maslow, the creator of the pyramid of needs, was firmly convinced that at the highest step of the pyramid is the need for self-actualization , which manifests itself in a person’s desire to reveal his individuality. All people are unique, each has its own distinctive characteristics, and only through the realization of creative potential can a person demonstrate his true capabilities to others and to himself.

Among researchers, the term “self-actualization” began to actively use psychologist K. Rogers. In his opinion, every person has a need for self-actualization from birth – it acts as the basis for personality development. Society, in turn, can create both favorable conditions and difficulties on the way of realizing the innate potential, while it cannot determine it.

The process of self-actualization is not limited by age boundaries – it lasts all life, as you know, there is no limit to perfection. The position of K. Rogers suggests that this is not only the harmonious development of the inner world, but also the realization of personal potential – the unity of these factors opens the way to self-actualization. In this regard, in psychology, self-actualization of a personality is considered not as an intermediate stage, but as a constant self-development that does not lose its relevance throughout life.

The principles of self-actualization

A. Maslow identified 8 principles that determine the need for self-actualization. Among them are:

  • Live in the present. Not every person is aware of what is happening around him and inside him. In this regard, it is important to form in oneself the ability to live in the present, to understand every minute;
  • Give preference growth. It is about acquiring new experience, knowledge, skills. There is a close relationship here with the fear of the unknown, which is important to overcome;
  • To live, not exist. A person should take pleasure in what he is doing and avoid actions that bring discomfort. Simply put, you need to follow your true places, and not those imposed by society.
  • Be honest with yourself and others, take responsibility for your actions and decisions;
  • Trust yourself , your aspirations, feelings and sensations, and not what is approved in society;
  • Follow the path of constant development of your abilities, gradually identifying and improving talents;
  • Strive for enlightenment – the highest point of experiences, within which a person begins to look at himself and others in a different way;
  • Identify and eliminate subconscious defense mechanisms that block the path to success … Focus on the need to develop conscious behavior.

The place of self-actualization in the hierarchy of needs

Пирамида Маслоу

According to A. Maslow, the need for self-actualization is at the highest level of the pyramid, but it becomes relevant only after all previous needs are closed. Until this moment, a person does not seek to reveal his personal potential, but is focused on meeting basic needs. The researcher formulated the principle of the hierarchy of needs that underlie the motivation of personality development. In total, it is customary to distinguish five levels:

  • Physiological level. The need for food, water, warmth, preservation of health and procreation;
  • Level of security. In this case, we are talking not only about the absence of a threat to life and health, but also the need for peace of mind, confidence in the future, having an interesting job with good wages or in a cozy home;
  • Social level. It is customary to include the needs associated with establishing communication with others people, establishing strong bonds with friends, family;
  • Self-esteem. Here the need for self-esteem, in self-acceptance and pride in the results of your work is brought to the fore;
  • The level of self-actualization. Here all attention is focused on the needs for realizing creative potential, in achieving harmony with oneself with fight, in the maximum expression of your own “I”.

How to achieve self-actualization?

It is very difficult to start controlling your life, but if you want to, then everyone can cope with this task. There are several simple steps that will help you to embark on the path of self-actualization:

  • Conscious and complete experience of all the events that occur on the path of life. It is about not allowing yourself to ignore existing problems, suppress negative emotions, or withdraw from the situation in the presence of discomfort;
  • The realization that each person has the right to choose, the use of this feature to achieve their own goals. Every day, a person makes a large number of decisions and faces their consequences. Taking no action, enjoying your comfort zone, postponing life changes, enduring it is also a choice. The only question is, is a person ready to live like this?
  • Change of attitude towards responsibility. Each choice is characterized by a certain attitude towards personal responsibility. In practice, many people just sit still, afraid to face the consequences of their decisions and take responsibility for them. You need to understand that the ability to take responsibility for your actions and the actions of others is one of the most important steps on the path to personal development. Responsibility and choice give a person the opportunity to feel free and gain independence.
  • Formation of the ability to trust oneself, love for oneself, self-acceptance. Only a small part of people can conduct a dialogue with themselves, admit their weaknesses and mistakes, make a decision to change them. But this is very b important
  • Continuous creativity. In this case, it is not just about painting, vocals or music. This includes all actions aimed at creating something new, original, your own.


Self-actualization is a mental process that characterizes the formation and development of a personality, the maximum development of inherent predispositions and abilities. This process is greatly influenced by the current social conditions of life, the historical period and the time period of the life path. Each person decides for himself to move forward towards realizing his potential.