What does it mean to be self-actualized?
According to Abraham Maslow, who was instrumental in developing the theory of self-actualization, self-actualization is a continuous process of realizing our own unique potential. The theory proposes the famous hierarchy of needs to show that self-actualization sits at the top of all of our motivations. Often, this theory is wrongly described as suggesting that you can’t consider fulfilling your higher-order needs until your lower-order needs are fulfilled. However, you only have to think of a few examples of some of the most famous self-actualized individuals to see that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, Maslow himself believed that many self-actualized people specifically chose to make sometimes life-threatening personal sacrifices in order to fulfill their inner potential. It’s also important to realize that there is no one state of “perfection” that characterizes self-actualization but, instead, each of us has our own idiosyncratic way of achieving inner fulfillment.