I was listening to a video by an author where he defined ‘self-actualization’ in terms of ‘ego’ or selfish individualism – a type of narcissism. This goes to show the limitations of language and how meaning can be confused. The ‘self’ in self-actualization in my mind is just the opposite. It is the freedom from the mental constructs of the ego-self. And, it’s an ancient concept.
It is the awareness that there is a ‘core’ you that is beyond the labels and judgments of the ‘autobiographical memory’ of the brain’s cellular memory that forms the ego – in neuroscience terminology. Self-actualization is another way of saying, ‘enlightenment’. It is the ‘real you’ Self. It reaches beyond the social conditioning that says, ‘you are only this or that’. Or, ‘you cannot be, do or have this or that’ – just because society holds you in an itty-bitty box of judgment.
Self-actualization is about recognizing more and more who you really are and hopefully accessing more of your true potential. It is freeing your mind from the limitations that create distraction, disease and dysfunction. So, just to be clear, my definition of self-actualization leads a person to be more collaborative with others, not more selfish.