9 Characteristics of Self-Actualized People

What Is Self-Actualization? 13 Traits of Self-Actualized People

9 Characteristics of Self-Actualized People

Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Have you ever heard of self-actualization? As someone who has been a personal development junkie for several years now, I was shocked to learn about self-actualization recently.

When I came across the term, I couldn’t help but think, “What is this self-actualization thing, and how have I gone so many years without hearing about it?”

Maybe you’re in the same boat. Perhaps you’ve read up on tons of other topics self-limiting beliefs, how to gain more self-awareness, how to be more self-confident, but you’ve never heard of self-actualization.

Don’t fret! I’m going to give you a crash course on what self-actualization is and which 13 traits are most commonly found in a self-actualized person.

When I explore a new topic, I can’t help but start with examining the definition. This one comes from Google Dictionary:

“The realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.”

The concept of self-actualization came from Abraham Maslow. Maslow was an American psychologist who is best known for his hierarchy of innate human needs. all hierarchy’s, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is listed in order of priority and is often represented as a pyramid.

At the bottom are physiological needs, such as food and water. Up from there is safety and then belongingness, which would include intimate relationships and friends. Above belongingness is esteem or things prestige and the feeling of accomplishment.

On the very top of Maslow’s hierarchy rests self-actualization. And as we’ve seen in the definition, this means that the highest of human needs is to achieve one’s full potential.

So, if becoming a self-actualized person means realizing our greatest talents and achieving our greatest potential, how do we go about doing that? How do we achieve self-actualization?

Let’s start by examining the top 13 traits of a highly self-actualized person and work backward from there.

1. They Practice Acceptance

Self-actualized people accept themselves and other people as they are, and they have no expectations for how people should be otherwise. They understand that no one is perfect, and they accept their own quirks, desires, and flaws as well as those of others.

While many people wish they were different in some way, self-actualized people do not. They love themselves for who they are, and they do not apologize or feel guilt or shame for who they are.

2. They Are Authentic and True

A self-actualized individual has a strong sense of who they are. They have a deep understanding of their beliefs and values, and they live in congruence with those beliefs and values.

Because they accept and understand themselves, they are authentic and true to themselves. They do not pretend to be anything they are not. Not only are self-actualized people authentic, but they seek authenticity as well, both in people and in the world. They are quick to spot dishonesty.

3. They Possess a Strong Sense of Realism

Another characteristic of a self-actualized person is their sense of realism.

To the average person, self-actualized people seem to have sound judgment or excellent gut instincts, but it’s far more than that. Their ability to logically and rationally evaluate the world allows them to spot dishonesties, fakes, and inconsistencies.

Self-actualized people seek truth in everything they encounter, which gives then a keen ability to see behind the scenes more often than most people.

4. They Live in the Here and Now

Because self-actualized people are accepting and are grounded in reality, they are exceptionally good at living in the here and now. Self-actualized people do have goals, but they don’t focus on the future at the expense of the present.

For the self-actualized, the journey towards a goal is just as important as achieving the goal, if not slightly more so.

5. They Are Autonomous and Independent

Self-actualized people are highly independent and do not conform to the norms of society. They do not depend on people, the world, or any external factors for their happiness. Instead, they draw satisfaction from their own development and personal growth.

They are comfortable being alone, and because they are so independent, self-actualized people are not bothered by the opinions that others may have about them. They accept themselves as they are, and the opinions of others cannot change that.

6. They Have Excellent Moral Intuition

Self-actualized people do not allow themselves to be molded by culture or by society. They have an excellent moral compass, and they are deliberate about their decisions. They reject what they see as bad or evil, and they adopt what they see as good.

Because they are driven by their own moral intuition, they have a strong code of ethics that cannot be swayed by society.

The self-actualized do not accept everything as black and white, right or wrong, They evaluate all sides of an issue and make their own decisions what they believe to be right and just.

7. They Seek Growth and Development

Self-actualized people not only draw happiness from personal growth, but they are also intrinsically motivated to develop their potential.

They have moved beyond Maslow’s first four hierarchies are no longer motivated by basic human needs. They know that they are capable of more in life and they’re driven to see how much they can grow.

They also view their growth as a tool to help more people, not just themselves.

8. They are Problem-Solving, Humanitarians

Self-actualized people have a genuine desire to help the human race. They are quick to spot problems in the world and, because they are problem solvers, they don’t hesitate to look for solutions.

This genuine desire to help is not rooted in personal gain, glory, recognition, or any other self-serving motive. Self-actualized people have a strong sense of purpose and want to leave the world better than they found it.

9. They Have a Strong Sense of Purpose

Because self-actualized people are humanitarians and they seek never-ending personal growth. They often times adopt a mission or purpose that is far beyond themselves or their own needs.

This mission is typically meant to solve a problem for the good of all mankind and gives them a powerful sense of purpose. This purpose demands much of their energy, and they are more than happy to spend their time making a significant impact on the world.

Self-actualized people seek frequent peak experiences. These are not everyday experiences of joy—they are experiences that involve a heightened sense of wonder, awe, or ecstasy—a feeling of transcendence.

Peak performances tend to be highly significant to one’s life. They are fulfilling, thrilling, intrinsically rewarding, and in many cases, feel very spiritual.

While rare, peak experiences can happen for anyone at any time, those who are self-actualized deliberately seek out these experiences routinely.

11. They Embrace the Unknown

While most people fear the unknown, self-actualized people embrace it. Self-actualized people understand that to grow as a person, you have to step beyond your comfort zone and into the unknown.

Self-actualized people seek to reach their full potential, which means they have to explore the unknown. They cannot reach their full potential by staying where they are. They cannot cling to the familiar.

They do not fear the unknown. Instead, the self-actualized welcome and embrace the unknown—they accept it and learn from it. They are not afraid of the many curve balls that life tends to throw their way.

12. They Are Unconventional and Spontaneous

Because they are not afraid of the unknown, self-actualized people tend to be very spontaneous and unconventional. While they are able to follow most social and cultural expectations, they have no problem doing their own thing when they decide it’s appropriate.

They do not feel confined by the norms of society and are willing to explore the unknown world beyond those expectations, even if the new experience is not a social norm.

13. They Have a Thoughtful Sense of Humor

Self-actualized people have a deep and thoughtful sense of humor. They are very good at finding the humor in most situations, and they enjoy laughing at themselves.

On the other hand, they never use humor to embarrass or ridicule other people, and they never make jokes at the expense of others.

The Path to Self-Actualization

So there you have it: 13 traits that self-actualized people share. To get on the path to self-actualization, you can study these traits and seek to live a life that mirrors them.

There’s no step-by-step plan to follow to become self-actualized. However, these 13 traits offer you a guide to becoming more self-actualized over time. Remember, becoming self-actualized is not a destination; it’s a journey.

You can learn to be more present in your life, to accept yourself and those around you, and to be more spontaneous and unconventional. You can work towards finding your purpose in life, to becoming more humanitarian, and embracing the unknown.

As you live your life, focus on improving these 13 areas of your life, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming self-actualized.

Good luck!

More About Self-Discovery

Featured photo credit: Denys Nevozhai via unsplash.com

Источник: https://www.lifehack.org/577586/why-self-actualization-matters-more-than-anything-else

How To Achieve Self-Actualization: 19 Traits Described By Psychologists

9 Characteristics of Self-Actualized People

While needs shelter, food, and water are the most important pieces to survival, what comes once you have those things? What about when you want to not just survive but thrive, reaching your greatest potential? Achieving self-actualization is about doing just that. 

What is self-actualization?

Put simply, self-actualization occurs when you fully meet your needs and reach your full potential, meaning you're doing everything that you're capable of doing.

You may have heard the term self-actualization before in reference to the completion of psychologist Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but the term was first introduced in the early 20th century by Kurt Goldstein, a physician specializing in neuroanatomy and psychiatry.

He saw it as the end goal for each living being, believing that each action taken was connected to that goal. However, the concept didn't become popular until Maslow began to explore the concept.

As discussed in his 1943 writing titled «A Theory of Human Motivation,» Maslow also believed that people, not all living things, would motivate themselves to achieve self-actualization only after their basic needs were met.

In his book Motivation and Personality, Maslow explains it this: «Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves. 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 desire for self-fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially.»

Self-actualization was further studied by psychologist Carl Rogers. Un Maslow, who saw self-actualization as one of many human motivators, Rogers saw self-actualization as our only motivator.

 «The organism has one basic tendency and striving—to actualize, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism,» he wrote in his work, «A Theory of Therapy, Personality, and Interpersonal Relationships, as Developed in the Client-centered Framework.

» He also disagreed with Maslow about the path to get to self-actualization, as well as the characteristics of a person who has achieved it. 

Characteristics of self-actualization, according to Maslow.

When Maslow explained his theory, he presented 17 characteristics of self-actualization. About 70 years later, in 2018, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman conducted a study to determine how these characteristics held up in the 21st century. Of the 17, he found 10 of Maslow's characteristics of self-actualization to still be valid today.

«The characteristics of self-actualization were also associated with greater well-being across a number of indicators of well-being, including greater life satisfaction, self-acceptance, positive relations, environmental mastery, personal growth, autonomy, purpose in life, and self-transcendent experiences,» Kaufman explains in the study.

These were the 10: 

1. Continued freshness of appreciation 

As Maslow said in «Motivation and Personality,» «Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.»

This piece of self-actualization comes down to accepting your quirks and desires without feeling the need to apologize or feel shame for them. It's about accepting yourself completely for who you are. 

In this case, instead of trying to «fit in» with the crowd and act how you believe others want you to, a person with authenticity maintains their sense of self and integrity. 

Instead of being thrown every time something doesn't go your way, a person with equanimity accepts these as inevitables and navigates them with grace. 

No surprise here, this simply means that you have a purpose in your life and feel responsibility to accomplish it. Often this purpose is something that will help others. 

6. Efficient perception of reality 

This applies to people who dig deep to ensure they are receiving the realities of the world. Instead of relying on assumptions, this comes down to cold, hard facts. 

This characteristic is for anyone who feels a genuine connection to other members of the human race, experiences sympathy and affection for them, and wants to help them. 

This ties back to truly living your most fulfilled life as it is for anyone who often feels new horizons opening up to them, who goes beyond selfishness in situations, and who feels one with the other organisms on Earth.

If you can tell right away when you've done something wrong, can trust yourself to make the right decision without too much deliberation, and can easily distinguish between right and wrong, you have good moral intuition.

This applies to people who feel in touch with their child self and bring creativity to everything that they do. «I learned to apply the word 'creative'…

not only to products but also to people in a characterological way, and to activities, processes, and attitudes,» Maslow writes in «Toward A Psychology of Being.

» «And furthermore, I had come to apply the word 'creative' to many products other than the standard and conventionally accepted poems, theories, novels, experiments or paintings.» Hence the term creative spirit being about so much more than creating physical things. 

Characteristics of self-actualization, according to Rogers.

Rogers believed to be self-actualized is to be a «fully functioning person.» Self-actualizing was an ongoing, lifelong process of making sense of one's identity, separate from external ideas, beliefs, experiences, and entities. Below are the characteristics he associated with self-actualized people:

1. Openness to experience

Instead of coming at life with your defenses up, openness to experience means that you're willing to accept what occurs and are not threatened by it. 

2. Availability to awareness

This occurs when you are living with a lack of denial, clearly recognizing and understanding your experiences. (Here's how to increase your emotional intelligence if this is an area you're lacking in.)

3. Accurately interpreting experiences

Similar to awareness, a fully functioning person should be capable of interpreting events they have gone through without changing them. 

4. Self-concept aligns and adapts with experience

A self-actualized person connects to their experience while also having the flexibility to adapt with it. 

5. Trusts and values experiences

This is the ability to trust in what is happening to you, process it, and explore your values it, without perceiving them as a threat to the self. 

6. Unconditional self-regard

To have this characteristic is to live without doubting yourself and your worth individual experiences. (Here are a few ways to practice self-love.)

Tying back to being open to experiences, this characteristic goes beyond that to say a person can creatively adapt to those new moments.  

8. Takes feedback from experiences

If something doesn't go your way or you aren't fully satisfied, you will look at the outcome and work on correcting it for the future instead of defaulting to defensiveness.

9. Lives in harmony with others

This is the understanding that you are not alone in this and your actions affect others. In knowing that, you choose to live as harmoniously with others as you can. 

How to achieve self-actualization.

Maslow believed that Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Albert Einstein were examples of self-actualized people. While all incredible figures in history, anyone can self-actualize when they are motivated to. If you're looking to become self-actualized, here are some steps to take:

  • Work on accepting yourself wholeheartedly.
  • Look at where your motivation to live day-to-day comes from and why.
  • Examine what it is you want to achieve and why it would make you feel fulfilled.


  • Be open to the bumps life throws at you, without perceiving them as threats to your sense of self.

  • If you really want to dive in, consider working with a psychologist to determine the right path for you and to work through potential barriers to self-actualization. 

Self-actualization can come from pursuing your love of painting as a hobby, fulfilling your dream of singing in front of an audience, or raising your children to be respectful members of society.

No matter how you choose to go about pursuing self-actualization, remember that the idea is to make your life feel more fulfilling.

This is not a stressful assignment you need to take on but just small steps you can slowly work through as you explore yourself and your place in the world.

Источник: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/self-actualization-characteristics

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