Self-actualization is the realization of fulfillment of one's fullest potential. Carl Rogers, the developer of Person Centered Therapy or Rogerian Therapy, emphasized that for a person to reach self-actualization, he or she must reach congruence of the ideal self with his or her actions.
The questions and statements below are meant to be considered with time and patience:
What does your ideal self look like?
Think physiology. What does your body tell you when you've reached that point of optimal functioning? Are you eating several balanced meals a day? What does your caffeine intake look like? Are you taking medication that's prescribed by a doctor as advised? What about your posture? Are you tense or relaxed? Are you hydrated? What are your sleep patterns look like when you are at your best? Do you get an entire night's sleep? Do you address physical/medical concerns as they come up? Are you sitting often throughout the day? Do you exercise?
Does your body ever let you down? Are you at peace with it? Are these disappointments things you can control? What value do you hold on your physical self when considering your sense of self?
Now think mentally and emotionally. What your thoughts look like when you are at your most ideal self. Are they optimistic? Are they realistic? What tone do they take? Do you ever suffer from "cognitive distortion?" What contributes to your thinking? What kind of emotions are on display when you are at your fullest potential? How do you use your emotions? Are they at times in conflict with your thinking? Do you trust your thoughts and emotions? What value do you hold on your emotional and cognitive self when considering your sense of self?
What's your internal narrative?
What about your relationships? What do your relationships look like when you've self-actualized? Who are significant figures in your life at this time? Do you depend on them? Do they depend on you? Do they share your self-image? What role do your relationships play in this journey, if at all?
What value do we hold for the different roles we have in our lives? To our families, friends, coworkers and communities?
With all of this in mind, what supports these elements? What gets in the way? Are there times when a certain component of yourself supports certain elements and can interfere with others? To give an example, I struggle with anxiety at times. Anxiety is a wonderful tool when I'm trying to multitask and am under lots of stress to accomplish many things in a short period of time. It's a driving force and can create pressure. Anxiety is useful. It's also harmful though when I don't keep it in check. When I don't consider its impact on my physiology, relationships, or mental well-being. Because of this, I check in on it often. I know my indicators and protective factors. I know what I have to do to insulate myself from it. Some days are more successful than others though. How well do you understand the elements that impact your sense of self?
It doesn't have be this concrete. Think of the arts - literature, painting, song, poem, film, photography, etc. The colors, sounds, words and visions that bring us to a better understanding of ourselves, and all of ourselves. Not just the pretty parts. The capturing of our truest form.
We can think about our ideal selves all day long, but the journey is our steps towards congruence. That moment of experiencing self-actualization.
I hope that some of these thoughts offered an opportunity for you to investigate further into your sense of self. Feel free to like, share, or provide feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.