What is personal self-actualization: examples and criteria

Self-actualization is the absolute disclosure by an individual of personal potential, inclinations and inclinations. It is expressed in a personal desire for the most complete identification of personal capabilities and their further education. True self-actualization depends on the presence of favorable social and historical conditions, but it cannot be set by society or culture from the outside.

Self-actualization does not contain an external goal. It comes from within the individual, expressing his positive nature. Self-actualization is considered a key concept in the humanistic concept in psychology. Its main values ​​are: personal freedom, commitment to development, realization of the potential and desires of the subject.

What is self-actualization

What is self-actualization, what is its definition in psychology? Self-actualization is the process of personality formation, its psychological development. Every person has an inherent desire for the maximum realization of his abilities, inclinations, and capabilities. Self-actualization is based on a person's internal motives. The concept of “self-actualization” does not include passivity. A self-actualizing person himself strives to master new types of activities; he always has many plans and goals. He doesn't wait for the world to offer him something, he looks for opportunities himself.

The concept of self-actualization is closely related to the concept of self-realization. The first is the search for an answer to the question “Who am I, what should I be?” The second is the search for an answer to the question “What am I doing in order to be who I should be?” In science, the theory of self-actualization and self-realization of a person is closely related to humanistic psychology. In it, the concept of self-actualization is key. The term was introduced by K. Goldstein, who is also the author of the theory. However, besides him, the problem was studied by K. Rogers and A. Maslow. And their vision of the issue is discussed more often in psychology.

The authors’ concepts are somewhat different, for example, Maslow believed that one needs to develop actively, and Rogers preferred slow self-actualization (we’ll talk more about the types below). However, they agreed on the essence and specifics of self-actualization and believed that any person can achieve success in life if he begins to choose and direct his life. Self-actualization is the pinnacle in the theory of personality development.

The difficulty is that self-actualization largely depends on the developmental environment. What type of environment contains the potential for assumptions of favorable development of self-actualization? A friendly, developing environment, where there are warm and trusting relationships, where a person is supported and guided, and assistance is provided. It is extremely important that from an early age a person finds himself in such an environment, then the process of self-actualization will be simpler and more favorable.

Important! A self-actualizing person feels like a harmonious and whole person. He realizes his value and importance and feels that he is benefiting society.


Humanistic psychologists divide self-actualization into:

  • deep and superficial;
  • passive and active;
  • harmonious and problematic;
  • energetic and cautious.


The second name for this type of personality actualization is essential. The individual strives to develop his own personality. It goes through two stages:

  • identifying needs and requirements;
  • searching for ways to implement.

To self-actualize, a person sets a goal and identifies needs. He is engaged in self-discovery. If he finds it difficult to understand himself, he turns to a psychologist.


In everyday life, the idea of ​​self-development has become cheap. Superficial actualization of one's own personality does not imply self-knowledge.

More than 9,000 people have gotten rid of their psychological problems using this technique.

A person realizes existing opportunities, and does not discover new things in himself.


The peculiarity of passive implementation is the independent development of the intellect and psyche, without the active attitude of the person. New abilities appear naturally.


A self-actualizing person develops a goal. He approaches it by solving problems, attending trainings, and studying with a psychologist. The person is problem-centered. He lives to work, and does not work to live.


Harmonious actualization of personality does not disturb the balance of other human qualities. Mental health does not suffer. New abilities and talents develop gradually, without compromising existing character traits. A person does not experience constant fatigue, the process brings pleasure.


The rush to become the best version of yourself takes a toll on your mental health. Untimely or strenuous self-expression harms a person.

He becomes irritable and tired. The actualization process should be carried out in moderation and be gradual.


Carl Rogers spoke in favor of the cautious method during trainings. According to his theory, the main thing in the process of actualization is to open the individual’s perception to his own needs and the needs of others. If this is achieved, the person's subsequent actions contribute to moving forward. According to Carl Rogers, constant struggle to achieve a goal is not necessary.


Maslow supported the concept of energetic actualization. He argued that a person must constantly discover new talents. Study new technologies and move forward. The ultimate goal is to fulfill your own mission. Nothing can force a self-actualizing person to turn away from this path.

Maslow's self-actualization theory

Why don't all people reach the level of self-actualization? It's all about the pyramid of needs that Maslow defined. The transition to a new level is impossible without satisfying the needs of the previous level. Let's briefly consider Maslow's theory of self-actualization.

Levels of the pyramid of needs:

Level (lowest to highest)Characteristic
PhysiologicalAt this level the need for food and water, sex, sleep, good health, etc. is located. This group includes everything without which a person will die, everything that helps him to exist as an organism. This is the animal level.
Security needsThis group of needs includes the desire to have comfortable and permanent housing, stable work, and confidence in the future. This level also includes psychological comfort, absence of stress and threats to physical or mental health, life in a stable society, etc. This is the level of the animal, smoothly transitioning into the social.
SocialThe need for respect, acceptance, family, friends, communication, social interaction. In a broad sense, it can be defined as a need in society. This is the social level.
Self-esteemThe need for self-esteem, self-acceptance. At this level, it becomes more important for a person what he thinks about himself, and not what society thinks about him. He wants to be proud of himself, strives for comfort and inner harmony, self-love and total self-acceptance.
Self-actualizationThe need for creative self-expression and social activity. At this level, a person tries to combine the two previous stages, that is, he seeks a balance between personal and social, he learns to be himself in the conditions of society. Harmony with himself is still important to him, but at the same time he is looking for ways of self-expression that will be accepted and appreciated by society and are useful to him.

Characteristics of self-realization according to Abraham Maslow

1. Freshness of perception

- a person’s ability to appreciate simple things. Such a person relates to the world around him with childish joy and naivety. He can appreciate the simplest things. He does not feel tired of the people around him and gratefully accepts the events that happen in his life. This is an inquisitive and open person who finds interesting things in everyday events.

2. Acceptance

is one important aspect of self-realization. Such a person is favorable towards his own and other people’s quirks. He has no desire to apologize for his oddities or be ashamed of them. He does not want to conform to social norms and does not want to change others. Such a person respects the personalities and lives of other people. True, acceptance does not mean that you have to come to terms with your shortcomings. Acceptance is recognizing your own shortcomings that you can change. The first step towards self-actualization.

3. Authenticity

- a person’s ability to follow his “true” goals. Such a person does not try to “fit in” or adapt to social norms. He values ​​his own personality and respects the authenticity of others without trying to change them. Each person's personality is unique. True authenticity is preserving your own identity.

4. Impartiality

- a person’s ability to perceive the world around him as it is. Such a person endures difficulties and does not feel loneliness. He is ready to accept difficult moments in life, realizing that they will soon pass. Difficulties do not instill fear in him. After all, any difficulties are just an opportunity to show your best qualities.

5. The purpose
in life
is to understand what is important to you. Of course, it is difficult to find your own purpose in life. But you don’t need to think that this is something complicated. The real target may be lurking nearby. Perhaps you want to help other people or be creative. The main thing is to follow your goal and not compromise with circumstances.

6. Effective perception of reality

- the ability to perceive the world around us as it is. Often news and events upset us. But a confident person takes them for granted. He wants to see the world in its true light and seeks true facts. The ability to see events without embellishment is another step on the path of self-development.

Community with other people
- understanding the connections that unite us with other people. Such a person does not distance himself from the world around him and other people. He understands and empathizes with people. Community is awareness of oneself as part of society. Such a person understands that other people need help and support and strives to help them. He values ​​loved ones and friends.

Higher experiences
are unique events and feelings that fill our lives. Every person strives to live life to the fullest. We try to discover new facets of life that make our experience unique. Such a person is open to new experiences and new events. He understands that they make him richer and is not afraid of change.

Moral position
- the ability to distinguish good from bad. Of course, we all make mistakes and blame ourselves for it. And life is not divided into “black and white”. But a moral position is an island of calm and confidence in your life, which prevents you from losing yourself in the raging ocean of everyday life.

- a creative attitude towards things, events and relationships. Creativity fills our lives with colors. We can say that creativity is the highest embodiment of human nature. The ability to create something new and bring it to life makes us special. Creativity is the embodiment of freedom of spirit. But creativity is not only painting, poetry or prose. Such a person is creative in all aspects of life.

Self-actualization as a process

Most people reach level 3 or 4 and stop there. They have housing, a stable job (though not always a favorite one), friends and family, and hobbies. They go with the flow and seem to be happy with themselves and their lives. It would seem that everything is fine, but sometimes melancholy comes and then goes away. Why is it impossible to reach a new level, which complicates the process of self-actualization?

Taking yourself and your life into your own hands is really not easy. However, the instructions already exist; these conditions for self-actualization were identified by A. Maslow:

  1. Conscious and complete experience of any events. You can’t avoid problems, suppress negativity, or pretend that nothing happened if something doesn’t suit you.
  2. Recognizing that a person has a choice, using this feature. We make dozens of choices every day in every area of ​​our lives. Doing nothing or going with the flow, putting something off until tomorrow again and again, enduring is also a choice. But does it really suit you?
  3. Changing attitudes towards responsibility. Choice always comes with responsibility. Many people choose to remain inactive because they are afraid to be held accountable for their actions. You need to realize that the ability to be responsible for yourself and others is a plus, not a minus.
  4. Where there is responsibility and choice, there is freedom and independence. This is exactly what a person wants, who seems to be doing well, but sometimes something is gnawing at him from the inside. In fact, he cannot think and act freely; he is locked within narrow limits. This makes him unhappy and holds back his personal potential.
  5. Self-trust, self-love, self-acceptance. Not all people are ready to talk frankly with themselves, to admit that they don’t like something about themselves, that something influences them from the outside.
  6. Recognizing problems (psychological, somatic, social, etc.) and working on them.
  7. Continuous creativity. It's not just drawing, singing or music. Creativity is coming up with something new and original. There is a place for this in every area of ​​life.

Important! The more internal problems and barriers a person has and the more difficult his childhood was, the more difficult his self-actualization.

Characteristics of a self-actualizing person

Maslow describes the self-actualizing individual as a person from whom nothing has been taken away. And an ordinary person is a creature who has drowned out the talents given by nature.

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Parameters of personality self-actualization:

  • realistic assessment of one’s own activities;
  • accepting oneself with shortcomings;
  • natural treatment of people, without pretense;
  • actions and actions are aimed at achieving the goal;
  • need for privacy;
  • no dependence on the environment;
  • even ordinary things are perceived as a miracle;
  • ability for sensitive interpersonal relationships;
  • freedom from prejudice.

But self-actualizing people are not ideal. Like others, they can be angry, irritable, boring, and selfish. A sign of a developing individual is temperamental outbursts. The characteristic of interpersonal relationships is the ability to quickly change from deep to cold.

In his research, Maslow gave the following example of the process of self-actualization: a woman who realized that she did not love her husband. She divorced her husband with cruelty and coldness, without worrying about his feelings. The realization of her potential was inadequate and developed into selfishness.

What is the motive for self-actualization?

Self-expression motive. If a person does what he does not want to do and does not do what his nature actually requires, then he will be unhappy. This strength, unsatisfied need, suppressed desires and abilities force him to move forward, to self-actualize. If a person was naturally meant to be a musician, but he tries to be a teacher, then he will not be satisfied with his life. This is the motive of self-actualization - the internal desire to live according to one’s nature. It reflects a person’s desire to be himself, this is his motivation for development.


Self-actualization is the embodiment of your best qualities, skills and talents. We can say that self-actualization is the peak of development of any person. Personal growth is a necessary part of our lives. Without him, our life cannot be complete. And it is self-actualization that makes us unique individuals, helping us to pursue our goals and ideals. Psychologists believe that every person has hidden potential that he can realize. Perhaps you have long wanted to start drawing, playing a musical instrument, or learning a foreign language. But self-actualization is not limited to art. This is creativity that can be used in all areas and will make your life much more interesting.

Need for self-actualization

According to the theory of Carl Rogers, the need for self-actualization is inherent in every person from birth. Subconsciously, we all strive to become an integral and independent person. The psychologist believed that no circumstances can suppress the desire for self-actualization, and as soon as suitable conditions arise, it will burst out.


If you have a desire for development, you should decide on a plan of action.

First you need to identify your needs. The next step is to evaluate the capabilities and understand the abilities. That is, you need to take time for yourself. Engage in self-knowledge, meditate. If it is very difficult to understand yourself, try turning to specialists.

The second stage will be the search for ways of self-realization. It can be anything, regardless of direction. The level of training also does not matter. The only thing that matters here is your attitude towards the activity. The main thing is that the chosen business brings pleasure. For girls, I recommend reading this article.

Who can be called a self-actualizing person?

Portrait of a self-actualizing personality according to Maslow (suitable for diagnosing self-actualizing personality):

  • thinks positively;
  • trusts himself and the world;
  • open to the world;
  • free from anger and hatred and other negativity;
  • lives in harmony with himself and the world;
  • accepts oneself and other people as they are;
  • loves his job and does it with pleasure;
  • free from stereotypes and clichés;
  • has a developed sense of humor;
  • knows how to admit his mistakes and learn from them;
  • strictly distinguishes between good and evil;
  • does not hide from problems, but solves them;
  • does not depend on other people's opinions;
  • strives for development;
  • knows how to choose and take responsibility for his choice;
  • has its own system of beliefs, principles, values;
  • has psychological flexibility.

If you recognize yourself in this description, then congratulations - you are a mature and healthy person.

How to define a self-actualizing personality?

Let's figure out how to identify a person in the society around us who is already in the stream of self-actualization. So, a person in the process of self-improvement has the following signs:

  • Emotional openness: quickly and easily forgives sudden breakdowns of unrestrained or overly sensitive people.
  • Complete control over your life: it is impossible to influence or put pressure on such people; they make their own decisions and do not depend on the opinions of others.
  • Continuous striving for development and perfection - prefers to obtain new information from literature.
  • Most often this is a creative person with positive thinking.

If there are people around you who do what they love, they are definitely among those who are in the process of self-actualization.

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