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Monday, April 20, 2015

Self-Actualizing People


Long before I read about Abraham Maslow in my psychology classes, I had been introduced to him by Wayne Dyer, who often speaks of the influence Maslow - one of the founders of humanistic psychology - had on him during his formative years at university. Maslow is the psychologist who came up with the theory of the hierarchy of needs in 1943 that has been taught in psychology departments at most universities ever since. This theory contends that as humans meet basic needs such as safety, food, sex, and companionship, they then seek to satisfy successively higher needs - growth needs - most particularly self-actualization.

So Dyer relates that Maslow often said that the difference between self-actualizers and ordinary people is that self-actualizers never put their attention on:
  • what is missing in their lives
  • what is in their lives (if they don't like what is)
  • what has always been
  • what used to be (the past)
but they put their attention on, and they keep it on what they intend to manifest (on their goals). It makes no difference to them what kind of negative evidence comes their way, or what kind of obstacles they run into, they never take their mind off that picture.

Henry David Thoreau had this to say about a similar subject: "If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams, and endeavor to live the life which you have imagined, you will meet with success unexpected in common hours."

Another thing Maslow often repeated to Wayne Dyer about the kind of person that self-actualizes was this:

They are different from others in that they:
  • are independent of the good opinion of others, i.e. they do whatever it is that they do because they are convinced of it, and because it drives them, not because someone else approves or disapproves, praises or criticizes

  • are detached from the outcome, i.e., they do whatever it is that they do because there is a meaning in it for them, and not because it will bring them money, fame, or good will, respect, prestige, or position in society

  • have no investment in power or control over others
Where are you on this hierarchy? How much is your life ruled by what others think, or how much you can control them, as opposed to being ruled by what you have decided you want to achieve because you have made conscious choices about your purpose in life?

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