I’m big into self-realization and self-actualization, and even had a division in my own company, Foundations of Light, LLC, that was called “True-Self Actualization”—meaning that I conducted classes on teaching others how to recognize and actualize their True Self.
I know. These are just words. They mean little if you can’t even get your head around them.
So I’ll offer a little explanation here of the differences among them and why they are important to anyone hoping to discover your own personal TRUTH on LIFE (or hope to make better sense of your life experiences to date).
These definitions are from Wikipedia:
“…Self-realization is an expression used in Western psychology, philosophy, and spirituality; and in Indian religions. In the Western understanding it is the ‘fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality’ (see also self-actualization). In the Indian understanding, self-realization is liberating knowledge of the true Self, either as the permanent undying atman, or as the absence (sunyata) of such a permanent Self.” …
“,,,Self-actualization, in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is the highest level of psychological development where the ‘actualization’ of full personal potential is achieved, which occurs usually after basic bodily and ego needs have been fulfilled.
Self-actualization was coined by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein for the motive to realize one’s full potential: ‘the tendency to actualize itself as fully as possible is the basic drive … the drive of self-actualization.’ Carl Rogers similarly wrote of ‘the curative force in psychotherapy – man’s tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities … to express and activate all the capacities of the organism.’ “ ….
“…Ātman (/ˈɑːtmən/; Sanskrit: आत्मन्) is a Sanskrit word that means inner self, spirit, or soul. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism, Ātman is the first principle: the true self of an individual beyond identification with phenomena, is the essence of an individual….”
So to me, True-self discovery means to finally unlock WHO you truly are—it is your ‘soul essence’ revealed to you at last.
And when I say True-self Actualization, I mean to live your life from your true ‘Soul Essence’—to actualize your full potential as a spiritually-connected, Divine being. (Spiritual here does NOT mean Religious—there is a big difference there. This has nothing to do with doctrines and dogma.)
My view of the process of discovering and then actually living your life through your TRUE-SELF—your higher ‘soul essence’—is to shift your mental perspective and your self-concept from the superficial, people-pleasing false-self (your projected false public persona), to WHO you really are at your inner core (the sensitive part that we often try to hide and protect from the harsher world around us)—to your True-self—a loving, compassionate being who sees others as merely different versions of herself and who considers all as equals and fellow community members, rather than competing combatants vying for scarce resources and attention/validation from others. That can be a very hard perspective and behavioral shift to make—going from your false-self to your True-self.
And that is NOT an easy journey of discovery to take I might add, to find and then cultivate your True-self connection—to live life from your True ‘Soul Essence’.
So I want to add just a little more general info: Abraham Maslow wrote extensively on his concepts of Self-Actualization, and his promotion of what he called Humanistic Psychology. He went even further than that and coined what he and others together named ‘Transpersonal Psychology’:
“Transpersonal psychology (Wiki)
“…During the 1960s Maslow founded with Stanislav Grof, Viktor Frankl, James Fadiman, Anthony Sutich, Miles Vich and Michael Murphy, the school of transpersonal psychology. Maslow had concluded that humanistic psychology was incapable of explaining all aspects of human experience. He identified various mystical, ecstatic, or spiritual states known as ‘peak experiences’ as experiences beyond self-actualization. Maslow called these experiences ‘a fourth force in psychology’, which he named transpersonal psychology.
Transpersonal psychology was concerned with the ‘empirical, scientific study of, and responsible implementation of the finding relevant to, becoming, mystical, ecstatic, and spiritual states’ (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2011)….” ***
Now while this might seem a bit TMI to some, it is the basis for psychology taking a different, more expansive turn for awhile to assess what people were actually experiencing in the world around them, and how those more unusual experiences affected and defined their concept of ‘reality’.
Stanislav Grof mentioned prior was very much into exploring ‘non-ordinary states of consciousness’—mystical states, hallucinogenic states, altered states, etc.. And in doing so, he described what some folks had experienced, himself included, during altered states of consciousness where ordinary reality merges with some really strange stuff.
(Wiki): “…Grof distinguishes between two modes of consciousness: the hylotropic and the holotropic. The hylotropic mode relates to ‘the normal, everyday experience of consensus reality’. The holotropic has to do with states which aim towards wholeness and the totality of existence. The holotropic is characteristic of non-ordinary states of consciousness such as meditative, mystical, or psychedelic experiences. According to Grof, contemporary psychiatry often categorizes these non-ordinary states as psychotic. Grof connects the hylotropic to the Buddhist conception of namarupa (‘name and form’), the separate, individual, illusory self. He connects the holotropic to the Hindu conception of Atman-Brahman, the divine, true nature of the self… (to him they were NOT psychotic episodes, they were non-ordinary but still valid experiences) ….”
What does this mean to you? Good question. It might mean nothing, or it might help to explain a few things for you.
If it doesn’t interest you, you quit reading long ago. If it does interest you, it gives you a few additional sources of information to further pursue. And that’s the point of my listing them here. I like to share information sources.
To me, Finding Your Truth involves much of what these pioneers explored and the theories that they developed about better understanding the totality of the human experience—including the capabilities of WHO we really can be.
We are far from knowing all there is to know about the world that we interact with and how to put those strange personal experiences into the correct context for understanding how they might fully affect us; but as the world culture expands to include all aspects of world society and those vastly different perspectives on life, we need to open our minds to there being a bit more about this thing called ‘LIFE’ than we had previously acknowledged; and that it’s easier for all as a world society if we explore this world together rather than staying burrowed into our own little hide-aways stuck in pre-set modes of behavior and limited to specific “acceptable” beliefs about ourselves and the people around us.
Let’s do that Zappa thing: Open our parachutes and our minds to what can be rather than to what currently IS, because that “IS” right now seems pretty odorous.