Self-actualization is the purpose of the human experience. It is for the purpose of becoming self-actualized that we are here. Self-actualization is the origin of and the fulfillment of our every longing and desire. We are here for no other purpose than to fulfill this longing.
The drive to become self-actualized moves beyond our survival instincts, yet it is no less critical. It is the longing to find the answer to three basic questions:
- Who am I?
- Whose am I?
- What are my gifts and how am I called to use them?
Who am I?
Self-knowledge is the foundational search in the drive and journey toward self-actualization. We long to know who we are – who we really are. Who are we beyond the societal conditioning, tribal rules, the girl code and the man code that have attempted to define us? What are our interests, our personal needs and desires? How do we wish to move about this world? The Who Am I question encompasses every aspect of who we are – our personality, temperament, what gives us joy, pleasure, fulfillment? What triggers fear in me or insecurity? What are my wounds? What are the things about which I am ashamed? What in me is in need of healing? The process of finding out who we are includes naming and claiming every hurt, betrayal, condemnation, criticism, etc. that has covered up our real and true self and healing them so that our true self can emerge.
Whose am I?
This question encompasses a broad range of meanings. For some, this is the “God” question. What do we believe in? Are we aware of a source (seemingly) outside of us that is there as a guide, companion, counselor, healing, teacher, helper, source of comfort and support? What do we believe about this Source (more importantly, what resonates as truth for us relevant to this Source)? For many, the “God” they come to believe in through the process of self-actualization is far different from the God they were taught to believe in. This is a good thing. Self-Actualization leads us out and away from our conditioning to our own set of beliefs.
“Whose am I” is also a question about belonging. As human beings, we thrive in community and it is important to have a circle of people who love and support us in our journey of inner growth and development. Who is your tribe? In the process of self-actualization the tribe you began with will likely differ greatly from the one you eventually claim as your own. Again, this is a good thing. As we move toward self-actualization, we release the relationships that are no longer life giving and replace them with deeply intimate and meaningful partnerships with those we know will always have our back.
What are my gifts and how am I called to use them?
Each and every one of us are uniquely gifted to find meaning and purpose in our life and are driven to share these gifts for the sake of our own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world. EVERY ONE OF US! No one is exempt from this. Our journey toward self-actualization sets us on the course to discovering, cultivating, nurturing and eventually sharing our gifts. Whether we are gifted as a teacher, artist, counselor, salesperson, craftsperson, healer, comforter, helper, administrator, strategist, trouble shooter, advocate, peacemaker, entertainer, performer, listener, observer, reformer, prophet, mercy giver, servant of the poor, or one who has been gifted with the need to be the recipient of these gifts, we all have something to offer. Sometimes our greatest gifts are wrapped up in our brokenness. It is often through what we consider as our greatest weaknesses that we are best able to serve. The journey toward self-actualization takes us through the path of discerning our gifts and supports us in finding ways to share them.
Why do we care?
While the drive to become self-actualized is universal, very few ever attain the fulfillment of this drive. In order to become self-actualized, we have to awaken to the voice of our truest self while silencing the cacophony of voices that come to us from every direction except from the direction of our truth. We have to let go of familiar ways of being so that we might embrace the new life that self-actualization brings. We have to take lots of risks, including the risk of rejection. BUT…….if we do not heed the longing of our soul to become self-actualized, we will never find satisfaction in this life. We will forever be stranded in our current state of suffering, always longing and hungering for something more, seeking temporary satisfaction in things outside of us – like other people’s approval, possessions, fame, power and control, and yet never finding the fulfillment that we are actually seeking which can only come from within.