“Self-Actualization” – Becoming Who You Want to Be


“But anyone who refuses to experience life must stifle his desire to live – in other words, he must commit partial suicide.”

 – Carl Jung.

We have in us these creative urges that will forever want to become a reality. Abraham Maslow in his book The Psychology of Being argues that if such urges are suppressed or denied the chance to materialize, the individual becomes sick at some point. I would assume that the sickness mostly referred to here is that of stress, sadness and even bouts of depression. In other words, and perhaps much more simpler, I mean to say that when you deny yourself that chance to do what you deeply feel you are supposed to do, you deny yourself the chance to become who you truly are and see what you are capable of.

Let me paint you a picture:

You started going to school as early as 3 years old. Your lunch box packed, a handkerchief pinned on the pocket of your shirt and off you went. Some of you probably cried during that first day. Some of you probably enjoyed that first day. Nonetheless, that was the beginning of the loss of the childishness in you. Your playing time was cut short and all you had to be yourself was the holidays and the weekends- that’s if you did not have a pile of homework to do during those times.

“It is no measure of health to be well adapted to a profoundly sick society”
                                                       -Jiddu Krishnamurti

You were taught a great deal- most of which is not now useful depending on the career choice you went with. The child in you started envisioning things like being a lawyer, a doctor or even an engineer and the likes (the highly perceived professions in the society). Your childhood dreams started dying away slowly until there were no signs of those dreams in your thoughts. The society valued the lucrative jobs and careers and those are the ones your parents emphasized on, so you had to go with those- leaving your inner calling behind.

It saddens me to say that however broken this system is, it seems to be the one that is accepted by almost all of us. There is clearly no escape from it at least not now, not in the near future. Because it is enough to cater for our financial needs, no one would dare challenge it. “Who would be boldly stupid enough to challenge such a security anyway?” one may ask.  It seems to me that the more burning question is “how come we never consider psychological (mental) health important?”

As children we obviously had no control over the direction our lives took. What about now that we are grown persons capable of making our own decisions? Should we not at least allow ourselves that opportunity to do what we have always wanted to do? Should we not make time to be ourselves and enjoy our own free choices and time? Are we too comfortable where we are now that our dreams are not worth it anymore?

There’s nothing wrong in doing things that you are already doing now if they are doing a good job in sustaining you (financially). What’s disturbing (at least to me) is dedicating all our attention to that and neglecting the things we know deep down we are supposed to do. The things we genuinely want to do.

What human beings can be, they must be. They must be true to their own nature. This need we may call self-actualization… It refers to man’s (to mean man and woman) desire for self- fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything one is capable of becoming.”

Abraham Maslow, The Psychology of Being.

Many of us would think of what it is that we genuinely wanted to become but numb it down because our parents would not approve; because the society does not find it appealing; because it is not lucrative. What about YOU? How do you find it? Should you give up what you feel deep down you should do because of reasons like this? Is your say in this not relevant?

Why should you be cranky and gloomy all the time for “no reason?” You complain that you do not like school, that you do not at all like your job, that you are not happy. Could this be because you are not happy with yourself and what you are doing with your life? Could this be the sickness I referred to in the first paragraph? Stress? Depression? Sadness? Feeling unaccomplished?

Yes it may be difficult to abandon what you are doing because people (family mostly) depend on you as the bread winner or maybe because so much has already been invested in your schooling. Of course it would be wrong to abandon all that instantly and go chase your dreams- it would be utter selfishness I dare say! So work smart and make time in your days for working on your personal dreams. Even if it is an hour a day.

Imagine this: Every day for the next five years you have an hour to yourself to work on what you sincerely enjoy. How far would you be?  How happy with yourself would you be? How true to yourself would you be? You would be dealing with your external responsibilities and working on your craft too.

Sprout my friend! Never shy away. Not from your inner calling at least! So what you have classes the whole day? Set aside an hour a day for yourself. So what you have a family to feed? Set aside an hour a day for yourself. Use that hour to work on your personal goals or learn anything related to your goals. Grow roots today. Grow the stem next time. Proceed to branches. Then the twigs. Grow some leaves. Eventually the fruits. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it?

In a society where there are many challenges against you self-actualizing you have to be proactive in the process. If you want to be a poet, listen to poems on your way to work or class. If you want to be a public speaker, read or listen to books in your journey to your destination. If you want to keep fit, take the stairs not the elevator. It’s really these little creative and proactive things you do that make the difference in the end.

That chance to stay in touch with your true self and your goals in a society that rarely gives you a chance to do so is something we have to work hard for.


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