Abraham maslow he was an American psychologist belonging to the humanist perspective, the “third force” with regard to psychological currents, after psychoanalysis and behaviorism.
The approach of humanistic psychology focuses on the most positive aspects of the human experience and its development. Humanists hold the individual responsible for the results of his life, And we are convinced that, under the right conditions, it will develop in a desirable direction, because all humans have the potential for optimal growth.
Humanistic psychologists believed that people are inherently good and use environmental causes to explain behaviors considered negative. However, according to Maslow, just because all people have the power to be the engines of their own personal development doesn’t mean that they all do. Only a few manage to make the decision to come true, with all the effort and sacrifice that entails. These will become self-realized people.
Maslow believed that people develop at different levels towards their full potential. While everyone can achieve the highest levels of self-actualization, in practice only a few achieve the highest level of development. These are the so-called self-realized people, and Maslow estimated that less than 1% of the population was.
What is self-actualization?
Self-realization, according to Maslow, consists in the full development of human potential. He defines it as “the continuous realization of potentials, capacities and talents, as the accomplishment of a mission, of a destination or of a vocation, as a full knowledge and acceptance of the intrinsic nature of the person, as a relentless tendency towards unity, integration and synergy. within the person “.
For him, psychological disorders would only be denials of his own internal potential and attacks on the very nature of the individual.
Characteristics of self-realized people
From a series of observations and studies, Maslow identified a number of common characteristics of self-fulfilling people.
These are not innate traits that some people have inherited through genes, but simply ways of expressing the process of conquering self-actualization. These characteristics are as follows:
1. Effective perception of reality
Self-realized individuals perceive reality more clearly and objectively. Therefore, they are unlikely to be deceived, as they show an ease in detecting the manipulative strategies of others and are able to judge people in a useful and adaptive way.
Self-fulfilling people show a relatively high degree of self-acceptance, which is reflected in their self-image and self-esteem. This characteristic of acceptance extends to many other areas of life as well. Thus, self-realized individuals accept the evil and the good of life, having first identified what kind of situation is irremediable and cannot be radically changed by the actions of the human being.
Self-fulfilling people are aware that there are certain uncontrollable situations in life, which is why they adapt better to losses, work better in duels they adapt to changes in their life and are less afraid of death.
By being in touch with your inner impulses and your subjective experience, self-fulfilling people behave in a simple and natural way, Without hiding behind a social mask or a false “I”.
4. Focus on the problems
Self-realized people focus on issues outside of themselves, Have a high level of social awareness, and feel free to let go of your ego to help others. They tend to be aware and committed to various social causes and do not tolerate injustices.
5. Need for privacy
They love loneliness. They don’t need to have external approval all the time and think for themselves instead of letting others make the decisions for them. Studies show that they can tolerate sensory deprivation more easily than others.
They are also independent, able to meet their own needs and fend for themselves. without depending on others in excess. They make decisions without asking for the opinions of others, relying on their good judgment and taking responsibility.
7. Freshness of appreciation
Self-realized people show an almost childlike feeling of surprise and admiration. Curious, they let life surprise them even in those contexts that others should perceive as mundane and boring.
8. Summit experiences
Able to have mystical experiences which Maslow defined as “states of oneness where time tends to fade and the feeling of fear makes it seem like all needs are met”.
Some of the sources that trigger summit experiences in the individual are love, art or erotic ecstasy.
9. Human relationship
They identify with humans in general, And have a sense of relationship with the human race, without prejudice. In addition, they are able to create healthy romantic relationships, free from affection and addiction, only by focusing on the growth of the loved one.
10. Humility and respect
They are humble and can learn from many different people. They are democratic rather than authoritarian and do not insist on maintaining a status above others.
11. Ethics and values
They have strong ethical standardsAlthough these are not conventional rules of good and evil, but their own ideas that have been formed on the basis of their own judgment and observation of the world.
12. Sense of humor
They have a great sense of humor that is not hostile, they don’t laugh at the expense of others. It’s a more philosophical and existential sense of humor.
It is present in all self-realized subjects. They are able to generate authentic ideas and original solutions to problems.
Self-realization and basic needs
Maslow considered that every human being was capable of achieving their own self-realization after having previously satisfied their basic needs, which he set out in his famous hierarchy of needs (usually represented in the form of a pyramid).
- Maslow, Abraham. (2005). Management according to Maslow: a humanist vision for today’s business (orig .: Maslow on Management). Barcelona: Editorial Paidós Ibérica.
- Städler, Thomas (1998). Lexicon of psychology, Stuttgart: Kröner.