Maslow’s Criteria of Self Actualization

Abraham Maslow is known as the spiritual father of humanistic psychology. According to him, human being is a creature who always have desired. If their desired is satisfied, another will arises to take place. In the drives of fulfill one’s potential, the individual will be gained happiness, growth and satisfaction. Maslow was distinguished in motivation. Motivation is the reduction of tension by satisfying lacks. D-needs or deficiency needs arise for the requirements of survival or safety, such as need for food or shelter. It motivates individual to engage in activities that reduce these drives.

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Maslow had proposed that human needs are arranged in hierarchy and there are five levels of basic human needs. It was listed from strongest to weakest which include basic physiological need , safety, belongingness and love , esteem and actualization. The self actualization is the weakest need which place on top of the hierarchy and physiological need is the strongest need which place on the bottom of hierarchy. Most of the people trying to fulfill physiological needs, safety , belongingness and love and esteem needs. Indeed, self actualization is a goal that less people can fully reached. Movement to self actualization is not easy and won’t reached automatically. Abraham Maslow also said that self actualization as ”the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities and potentialities.” This is because self actualization is the weakest needs and people are usually afraid of the self knowledge for self actualization that may change their self-concept. In self actualization, people comes to find out the meaning of their life and the importance of life to them. Therefore, self actualization requires freedom to express oneself and to explore. Thus, their act have to in the absence of any restriction and follow the moral value such as truth, honesty and others. Although all people have innate drive to be self actualized, but self actualized people are still very rare.

Most of us not capable to achieved self actualization or only to certain degree of self actualizing, but theoretically we are able to self actualizing. Maslow identified that self actualized people have fifteen common characteristics. The characteristic includes problem centered but not self centered, spontaneous, accept themselves for what they are, highly creative, peak experience and others. Although people can achieve self actualization in their unique ways, they still tend to share certain same characteristics. The behaviors that leading to self actualization such as trying new things, being honest, taking responsibility and working hard and so on.


There are four criteria must have before a person achieves self-actualization. One of them were free or absence of psychopathology. Psychopathology is a term which refers to either the study of mental illness, mental distress or the manifestation of behaviours and experiences which may be showing out mental illness or psychological impairment. They were neither neurotic nor psychotic no partially toward psychological disturbances. This is an important point of negative criterion because some neurotic and psychotic individuals have some things in common with self-actualizing people and sharing the same characteristics such as heightened sense of reality, mystical experiences, creativity, and detachment from other people. Abraham H. Maslow will remove from the list of possible of self-actualizing people if that person showed clear signs of psychopathology.

Maslow second criterion was acceptance of the B-values. Researchers have defined it formally in terms of positive and negative self-concepts. He states the person who achieved self actualization will felt comfortable with and even demanded truth, beauty, justice, simplicity, wholeness, perfection, completion, aliveness, richness, goodness, uniqueness, effortlessness, playfulness and the last one is self-sufficiency. This all values is also about B-values. We have to accept or have B-values in our own self to achieves self-actualization.

Besides that, the criteria is satisfaction of each of the four lower level needs and therefore can lived above the subsistence level of existence. They would also experienced love and had a well-rooted sense of self-worth. This is because when they satisfied their lower needs, these people were better and be able to tolerate the frustration of these needs, even in the face of criticism. They are also be able of loving a wide variety of people yet love everyone with no obligated.

Last but not least, the criterion for reaching self-actualization was fully accomplished of one’s potentials for growth. In other words, his self-actualizing individuals have to fulfil their needs to grow, to develop, and to increasingly become what they were capable of becoming. With having all these criterions, the needs of self actualization only can fulfilled.


Maslow had state that self-actualizing people are motivated by the “eternal verities” what he called B-values. These are sign of psychological health and are opposed to deficiency needs, which motivate non-self-actualizers. B-values are not the needs in the same sense that food, shelter, or companionship are. Maslow termed B-values “metaneeds” to point out that they are the extreme level of needs. He differentiate between ordinary needs motivation and the motives of self-actualizing people, which known as metamotivation.

Metamotivation is characterized by expressive rather than coping behavior and is connected with the B-values. It differentiates self-actualizer from those who are not. In other words, metamotivation was Maslow’s indecisive answer to the problem of why some people have their lower needs satisfied, they capable giving and receiving love, hold a great amount of confidence and self-esteem. The lives of these people are meaningless and lacking in B-values. Only people who lives among the B-values are self-actualizing, and they alone are capable of metamotivation.

Maslow had identified 14 B-values. The values of self-actualizing people include truth, beauty, goodness, wholeness or the transcendence of dichotomies, aliveness or spontaneity, uniqueness, completion, justice and order, perfection, simplicity, richness or totally, effortlessness, playfulness or humor, and self-sufficiency or autonomy.

These values differentiate self-actualizing people from those whose psychological growth is stop after they reach their esteem needs. Maslow hypothesized that when people did not met their metaneeds , they will experience illness, also known as existential illness. All people have different tendency to move toward completeness and when the movement was discouraged, they will start suffer from the feelings of inadequacy, disintegration, and lack of fulfilment. Absence of these B-values leads to pathology just same as lack of food results in malnutrition. When denied the truth, people suffer from paranoia, when they live in ugly surroundings, they become physically ill, lack of playfulness and humour. They become tired, rigid, and depressed. Deficiency of any of the B-values results in metapathology which means the lack of a meaningful philosophy of life.


Abraham Maslow described several characteristics of a self-actualization’s peoples. Maslow’s theory conceptualizing behavioral define in term of a hierarchy, which the self-actualization needs is the highest of the human needs, involves the actively use of all our qualities and abilities, the development and fulfillment of our potential. Self-actualization people are those who have achieved this goal. They are characterized by their giving, calm and practical natures. Question, what are the characteristics of self-actualization?

Self-actualization people share certain characteristics and Maslow concluded which is objective perception of reality. Self-actualization’s people perceive their world and other people, clearly and logic, unbiased. The self-actualization people have comfortable relations with more efficient perception of reality. This is extended to all areas of life. Self-actualization people are not frightened, they will not frighten by the unknown and they have greater ability to reason, to see the truth. They able to detect the dishonest and the fake.

Secondly, characteristic of self-actualization people is a full acceptance of their own nature. Self-actualization people accept their strengths and weaknesses. They do not try to distort or falsify their self-image and they do not feel guilty or shame about their failing. They enjoy themselves without regret or apology, they have no unnecessary inhibitions. They also accept the weaknesses of other people and of society in general. They accept natural events, even disasters, as a part of life.

Thirdly, the self-actualization people is commit and dedicate to a kind of work. They focus on problems outside themselves and other centred. Self-actualization people have a sense of mission in life which they requiring their energy. Their mission is their reason for living in the world. This dedication to a cause or vocation is a requirement for self-actualization. They are serene, characterized by a lack of worry, and are devoted to duty. Self-actualization people find pleasure and excitement in their hard work.

Forth, behavior of self-actualizer is simplicity, honest and being nature. The behaviour of self-actualization people is open, direct, and natural. They rarely hide their feelings, emotions or play a role to satisfy the society, they may do so only to avoid hurting other people. Self-actualization people are individualistic in their ideas and ideals but not necessarily standard in their behavior. They feel secure enough to be themselves without being aggressive. They are so spontaneous in their inner life, thoughts and impulses, they are not hampered by agreement. Their ethics is independent. They are individuals and motivated to keep growing.

Besides that, the characteristic of self-actualization people is a need for autonomy, privacy, and independence. Self-actualizers can experience isolation without harmful effects and seem to need loneliness more than persons who are not self-actualizing. Alone but not lonely, unflappable, retain dignity amid confusion and personal misfortunes, objective. They do not go in for fads and they prefer to follow their self-determined interests. This independence may make them seem aloof or unfriendly, but that is not their intent. They are simply more autonomous than more people and do not crave social support.

Furthermore, characteristic of self-actualizers is intense peak experience. A peak experience is a momentary feeling of extreme wonder, awe, and vision, the loss of placement in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject was to some extent transformed and strengthened even in his daily life by such experiences. Self-actualization people know moments of intense ecstasy, not unlike deep religious experiences, that can occur with virtually any activity. They are special experiences that appear to be very meaningful to the person who has one.

In addition, the characteristic of self-actualization people is empathy and affection for all humanity. All self-actualizers tend to have a deep and sincere caring for their fellow humans. Although often irritated by the behavior of other people, self-actualizers feel a kinship with an understanding of others as well as desire to help them. Identification, sympathy, and affection for mankind, kinship with the good, the bad and the ugly, older-brother attitude. Truth is clear to them, they can see things others cannot see.


Most of the people would like to describe the self actualization as positive in many ways , but Maslow wanted to make it clear that it was not easy to achieve self actualization. Although it was an natural potential of everyone, but it was not developed generally. This is because they had repeatedly stuck in the situation to choose between growth and safety. Safety is an attractive choice, but only growth can lead us to self actualization. If we choose play safe rather than dangerous of growth, it will not brings us more toward to self actualization.

Parents are advised to not overprotection which orient the child toward safety, and extreme approval which means focus on the child others’ opinion rather than their own experience. When parents give a clear concept for children, the children will notice that growth choice offer joy and happiness, whereas choice of safety will only lead to boredom. Although growth choice seems dangerous and safety choice offers confirmation, but we have to clear that self actualization is a higher needs and also weakest needs. Therefore ,peoples must pay more effort to compete for it.

Besides that, lower needs such as physiological needs, safety and others need higher needs which most of the people keep fighting for it can bring them more satisfaction. Therefore, self actualization is on top of the hierarchy, which is the highest and also the weakest needs. People have to make a clear vision and step to know what they want to achieve it.

Maslow also state that “human no longer have instincts in the human sense, powerful, unmistakable inner voices which tell them unequivocally what to do, when, where, how and with whom. All that we have left are instinct-remnants. And these are weak, subtle and delicate, very easily drowned out by learning, by cultural expectation, by fear ,by disapproval. ” (Maslow, 1968b,p191). Maslow added the diminutive ending and called them instinctoid. The weakness of higher instinctoid is they are sometimes insufficient to lead us fully to self actualization.

Furthermore, Jonah complex which is the people are convinced that it is impossible to do anything very important and it will to dream to their highest potential, which means self actualization, it will leave them unhappy.


Next, we should realize that self actualization plays an important role in our daily life as our age is increasing. Therefore, people might ask what to do can get into self actualization? Here’s 11 steps that we can do to achieve self actualization in ourselves. First step is you need to assess your life. Assess statement which means that you should ask yourself ‘are you living a life that you find deeply rewarding and meaningful’ ? This is not a “once and only” step. This is a question you have to ask yourself regularly. For example , what you were doing until nowadays to assess and make your life meaningful. If you work as a teacher, you must know that this job is a honored work as you are passing knowledge to the students. If you regularly asked yourself and you get to know the answer, your life will be more meaningful and tend to get into self actualization.

Assess your motive is the second step. You have to keep ask yourself, are you holding yourself back because of fear? Everyone should make a choice that desire to grow, rather than reaction to fear. Don’t think about what will happen after you made your life decision but keep motivate yourself and think what is the best for your life.

Third step is willing to change. If you feel your life isn’t a rewarding, you’ll need to change it, willing to make a move and change a new direction. You have to open yourself to possibility. If you keep closing yourself off to the world, you are going to miss a lot of amazing things in the world. Part of the process to achieved self actualization is allowing those pain at the past, old mindsets and prejudice idea go away. You need to create a sort of blank slate within yourself to begin reconstructing the view of point to see the world.

Forth step is started to take the responsibility. You can’t expect others to make changes for you. It’s your life and it’s up to you to make the necessary changes that will lead to greater fulfillment. To do this, you may start from small. As with most other tasks, acting responsibility works best when you can get a bit of momentum going. If you feel crushed under a backlog of responsibilities, start with a few small or fast tasks. This can help you gain confidence to take bigger responsibility.

Next, is cherish your uniqueness. Be prepared to break away from the herd and be different. Don’t be afraid to follow your impulses and don’t give into the negative self-talk. Choose to look at things in a different perspective. Then, give yourselves more option, wider your mind and make your dreams alive. When the negative discussion starts, make positive thought even stronger than negative thought.

Sixth step is realize your dreams. Instead of lay on bed and dream about what you want, write down your goals and take the appropriate action to achieve them. If you are students and want to get an excellent result in the exam, take a piece of paper and list down the steps to achieve the goal. For example go for a tuition class and make study group with your friends. When you start to make the move, then you can only nearer and nearer to your dream.

Seventh step is accept your fallibility. That means, be willing to says, “I was wrong” .Be honest with yourself and with others. Don’t be afraid if you have done something wrong and brave to admit it. Most of the people dare not to admit what he was doing wrong and keep denied or blamed on others. This will not improve yourself but only will put yourselves backward.

Besides that, is always learn from the good times. Try to repeat experiences that you find deeply meaningful or awe-inspiring or that lead to feelings of excitement, ecstasy, humility or personal fulfillment. For example, if you have involved in the charity program and you are really enjoyed with it, why not if you get more and more to involved into another charity program? This will bring such a inspiring in your life.

Furthermore, is join in which means get involved in life. You have to become an active member of your community. For example ,form a neighborhood watch group. If your neighborhood doesn’t already have one, learn how to be a neighborhood watch coordinator and get your neighbors involved. This is a great way to get to know the families living on your street, and you can help other neighborhoods get going once you have experience.

Next, is look for the good in others. Every one of us has good points and bad. Usually we will overlook the good and only focus on the bad and mistake. Therefore, you have to make it a habit to find out the good part of someone. You should be also have to be more positive thinking .Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. Positive thinking may lead to a good health. Health benefits in positive thinking include the increased of life span ,lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress and so much more.

And here comes the last steps which is step eleventh is assess your progress. Take the time to reflect on all that you’ve accomplished as well as to honestly assess how you can do more to improve your life and the lives of those around you. For example, assess your progress at your work. This is the time to actually get to work. You need to note down your accomplishments of the last year. Then is the time to question what is different in the current year. Be aware of all the things you have accomplished as well. Your accomplishments give you a sense of confidence and help you achieve your goals in a better manner. They also give you a sense of focus.


Maslow had state out that human are much more than physical object and therefore the methods in physical science have no relevant to the study of humans. He also indicate that psychology have to attempt to understand humans who are in the process of finding out their full potential. That’s why we have to know how the people think and which way to use to motivate them. Therefore, Maslow used most of his times and energies trying to understand superior human.

The hierarchy of needs which proposed by Abraham Maslow shows that the lower the needs in the hierarchy, more basic they are. However , everyone have to achieve the lowest needs before deal with the highest need. The highest need, which is self actualization, meant they reaching their full potential, figure out who they are and the meaning of their life.

The self actualizing people shares some common characteristics. For example, they tend to be more independent. They less rely on others. Besides that, they are creative which always provide some new and brilliant ideas that special and never try before. Although most of us are creative, but self actualizing people are more nature, naive that would used their creativeness to makes the world better. To achieve self actualization, people may also meet some obstacle. Therefore, it is important to choose the correct ways and steps to reach self actualization.

Last but not least, out there was thousand million people on the earth, but not much of them can achieved self actualization. This shows that to achieve this goal seems easy but it was hard. Most of the people stuck on physiological needs, safety, belonging and loves need and esteem needs. They spend most of their life to satisfy those lower needs and forget about the highest needs. The needs become more fragile when goes higher the hierarchy which means their satisfaction is easily been block. Therefore, humans have to be strong to themselves and their faith to drive their innate to the best. Human have to be true to themselves and their own nature. Peoples should also have a good planning of their life so that it can motivate them to achieve the goal step by step so that they can finally achieved self actualization.