Why is it so difficult for people to accept who they really are? In a word, pressure. There's so much pressure -- especially in today's hypercompetitive and hyper-informed society -- for people to be something they're not. You get it from parents, from friends, from spouses, from television, from the Internet, from magazines, from advertisements you pass in the street, from nearly everything you see and do in any given day.
With all of the pressure that exists in today's hypercompetitive, hyper-informed society, how does one truly accept themselves holistically? As Abraham Maslow highlighted, we all follow our own paths, it matters only how completely we dedicate ourselves to achieving the personal and psychological greatness that lies at the top. At the top of the self-acceptance pyramid lies the concept of self-actualization.
With self-actualization, you achieve expert control of your creativity, spontaneity, and problem-solving skills. You have assumed a comfortable and sensible morality. You operate with the ability to separate fact from fiction, while eliminating prejudice. It is, in its own way, the clearest definition of what it means to be enlightened as a person and as an entrepreneur.
The first part of self-actualization is accepting your true self, but the second part is understanding that the journey has no end point. To self-actualize, you must always strive to expand your horizons as a human being. To achieve success, you must always seek it. The potential to self-actualize is something that lies within us all. You must only make yourselves willing to progress and then take the steps necessary to unlock that self-actualization. Having stated this, here are four important steps to consider on your path to self-actualization:
1. Stop measuring yourself against others.
Most of us have the tendency to measure our self-worth by comparing our accomplishments and abilities to those of the people around us. If you want to see how you're doing, the easiest way is to see how you measure up with your counterparts. It's the surest way to demonstrate how far along are you on the path to achieving success. If you're farther than others, you deem yourselves achievers. If you're not, you tend to stress and work on ways to improve.
The problem is that self-actualization doesn't have anything to do with the people around you. Notice the "self" part of the term. The only thing that matters is your progress, not the progress of others. If you hope to self-actualize -- or at least get on the path to self-actualization -- you must stop gauging yourselves against other people's accomplishments. Whether it's education or material things or even beauty standards, you cannot consider this as your standard. You must not work from a standpoint of how you compare; rather, you must work from a standpoint of where you are personally and independently of everyone else.
To achieve this step, you must be able to look in the mirror and say, "This is my portrait. This is who I am. This is my canvas." With that canvas in mind, do everything in your power to not let your perception of others color that canvass. Only you can paint the picture of who you want to be. No one else is in control of your destiny.
2. Learn to accept yourself holistically.
It's so easy to become dissatisfied with who you are and what you have accomplished. Oftentimes, when you look in the mirror, it actually serves to increase the negativity with which you think about yourself. You cannot fall into that trap. In order to self-actualize, you must accept your whole self -- your strengths and weaknesses -- and you must embrace them all. You cannot downplay your weaknesses or exaggerate your strengths if you hope to get anywhere in life. If progress is to be made, you must operate first from truth.
3. Understand that you are in control.
No matter how much influence an external factor might have on the people around you, the self-actualized remain unaffected. This is because they know exactly who they are, and can therefore always adapt (and adapt quickly). Because they do not lie to themselves about their own identities, strengths, and weaknesses, they have an immediate and clear picture of the adjustments they need to make to render the external factor irrelevant. Understand that the power you possess in terms of your outlook is absolutely astonishing. If you are realistic, honest, and above all, authentic, there is nothing you can't achieve.
4. Don't stop growing.
Those who self-actualize understand that the journey is never over. To self-actualize requires self-awareness, and self-awareness requires an understanding that there is no such thing as a finished product. There is no such thing as perfection and no such thing as an endgame. To be self-actualized means to understand that you must never stop growing as a person and learning as a professional.
To achieve self-actualization, when you conquer one thing, you must move on to the next. Self-actualization does not require any tricks or tools. To reach this level, you need only to accept who you are and then take the steps necessary to becoming the best version of you that you can be. Once you are 110% comfortable with who you are, who you've surrounded yourself with, and what you're destined to do on this earth, you may begin your journey towards self-actualization.
As a final point, see who you are. Really see it. When you have seen it, adopt an attitude that you're not afraid to go against the grain. Stop adapting to society and start being you. The empowerment that results will astonish you.
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