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Without Self Actualization, Life Is Like Empty

Without Self Actualization, Life Is Like Empty

We sometimes get to a point in our lives where we question the meaning of our goals, dreams, potential and general life direction.

The meaning of our lives is the basis of leading a fulfilling experience – from our connection with others, our inner being and our place in the world around us, to our simple physiological needs.

Self-actualization is about moving up to the next level and being the best we can be in order to give meaning to our life – something everyone strives to do whether consciously or not.

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What Exactly is Self-Actualization?

The concept of self-actualization was coined by the psychologist Abraham Maslow [1] who studied the theory of human needs. He believed that happiness derives, not from animalistic or mechanical behaviours nor the unconscious impulses we possess, but rather the drive to develop our understanding and wisdom of our full potential and capabilities.

Why We Need to Put Emphasis on Self-Actualization

Maslow believed that everyone is fundamentally hard-wired to self-actualize. Most people are at different stages – some can self-actualize at an early age or others reach the stage later in life but for most of us, we are have a need to better ourselves on a subconscious level throughout our lives.

In other words, it’s our want to grow whether we do this intentionally or unintentionally. We may do this through reading more widely to gain a better understanding of a subject, or simply choosing to see certain things from a different, more positive perspective.

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It’s this self-actualization that we need in life to feel fulfilled and feel like we’re growing and developing as a person.

The Characteristics of Self-Actualization

If you’re still not sure how this translates into your own life, there are some characteristics of self-actualization that you can probably identify with. These are:

  • Perceiving reality in a skilled way: being able to see what’s happening to you and what’s going on around you with a balanced and accepting approach.
  • The ability to accept yourself and others: understanding ourselves in a non-judgemental way as well as those around us.
  • Being appreciative of life: appreciating what life is in all its faults and glory – in your own life, others’ lives and even the nature that surrounds you.
  • The ability to create deep and meaningful connections: creating relationships that bring meaning and depth; helping us grow and bring further understanding to the essence of connection with others.
  • Following guidance from our values and inner goals: that feeling of living your life according to what you feel is right for you; knowing you are on a path that reflects your ultimate goal of happiness and fulfilment.
  • The ability to express your emotions in a clear and freeing way: feeling confident and positively aligned with the way you express yourself that benefits you and those around you.

Of course, we aren’t always portraying these characteristics at all times but when we do we feel like we’re in a state of being our best selves. This is why going through states of self-actualization helps us live a meaningful life and leads us to a happier life.

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In What Ways Can I Encourage Self Actualization?

Self-actualization may seem hard to do especially when we’re going through hard times or when we’ve picked up negative habits about how we think about ourselves and what’s going on around us.

But there are things you can do that will encourage you to grow and create the mindset of being your best self.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

We all have a tendency to do this but it’s a habit that doesn’t serve us. Understand that we are all on our own unique journey and it doesn’t matter where other people are in comparison to us. Once you make this important realisation you can be free to enjoy your path in life as the adventure it really is. It’s about your own progress not anyone else’s. Self-actualization is understanding that you are looking from a standpoint independent of other people.

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Understanding the Power of Your Mindset

You may feel like your bad mood is the cause of other people or external circumstances that you can’t control, but it’s actually how you choose to react to conditions. You have the ability to adjust accordingly because your mindset is incredibly powerful. Choosing to see things for your benefit no matter how negative it may seem will help you self-actualize much more easily.

Learning to Love Yourself

You may have heard this a million times before, but accepting yourself completely is the only way you can be the best version of yourself. This means accepting both your strengths and weaknesses. It’s from this place that you can truly move through the world in an authentic way – it’s about creating peace of mind about yourself and getting rid of this negative version you’ve made up.

Know That the Journey is Never Over

Self-actualizing is knowing that you never really stop growing – you will never reach perfection and that’s okay because that isn’t what life’s about. Life is about continually expanding ourselves, our knowledge and our perspectives. Once you accept this, it will become easier to relax and achieve the happiness you deserve.

So, the journey to self-actualizing is actually the journey to empowerment. It’s about denouncing the negative perspectives we’ve adopted about ourselves and being willing to see things differently. It’s only from this space that we can live a life that has true meaning, fulfilment and being aware of our full potential and capabilities.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash.com via pexels.com

Reference

[1] The Pursuit of Happiness: Abraham Maslow

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Jenny Marchal

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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