Self-Actualisation and Transcendence

Whenever there is change, and there has been a lot of that in the last few months, there is re-birth.

In the form of Western psychotherapy that I subscribe to, we are moving our psyche and our whole being towards self-actualisation (Maslow, A. A Theory of Human Motivation, 1943). For Maslow self-actualisation is the realisation of a person’s full potential, to be the most we can be. It is at the top of his ‘hierarchy of needs.’

Self-actualisation may look like being the best parent, artist, writer or daughter you could be. Self-actualisation becomes the motivating force, based on your values. It is a drive to be the best you can be in any particular area of life.

In later years Maslow added another layer to his hierarchy of needs, transcendence. In this layer he thought the fullest realisation of self was to give to something beyond the self, like being moved by environmental issues and being active in that area, or helping at a dog shelter, being moved to help others in any way.

He also said to reach these stages we need to have mastered physiological, safety, social and self-esteem needs, which precede these two levels.

So, at this time of re-birth, we can ask ourselves some questions:

  • Where am I deeply passionate about something in my life, where if I was my absolute best I would feel deeply fulfilled inside?
  • What might self-actualisation in this area look like for me?
  • What can I do on a daily basis to live more of that future self in my life?