the self actualization theory

I am a self-admitted overanalyzer. It applies to every area of my life and while it definitely keeps things interesting, it can be a royal pain in the neck to be inside my head sometimes.

I studied Sociology last semester and I got obsessed with reading about Carl Roger’s Self Actualization Theory.

Carl Rogers (1959) believed that humans have one basic motive, that is the tendency to self-actualize – i.e. to fulfill one’s potential and achieve the highest level of ‘human-beingness’ we can.  Like a flower that will grow to its full potential if the conditions are right, but which is constrained by its environment, so people will flourish and reach their potential if their environment is good enough.

However, unlike a flower, the potential of the individual human is unique, and we are meant to develop in different ways according to our personality.  Rogers believed that people are inherently good and creative.  They become destructive only when a poor self-concept or external constraints override the valuing process.  Carl Rogers believed that for a person to achieve self-actualization they must be in a state of congruence.

This means that self-actualization occurs when a person’s “ideal self” (i.e. who they would like to be) is congruent with their actual behavior (self-image).  Rogers describes an individual who is actualizing as a fully functioning person. The main determinant of whether we will become self-actualized is childhood experience.

No theory could be more significant to losing weight. When I don’t stick to my eating or exercise plans, I feel like I failed myself. When I am doing the right things, I am even more motivated to keep going. Why? Because I am the worst person I can let down. I am stuck with me. All day, every day, forever and ever. I am a constant reminder of my success and failures.

Self acceptance is a process and one I don’t pretend to have figured out. I do think in my thirties I am pretty clear on who I want to be and sometimes my behavior doesn’t match that image, so like the theory says, I temporarily lose my mojo.

But I don’t give up on myself. I won’t give up on myself. I am a fighter and every time I find myself without my mojo, I think back on all the things I have overcome. I do not believe anything is impossible for me if I want it.

What I am learning and constantly attempting to apply is that life is never going to be perfect. There are good days, bad days, cirumstances out of my control, and I cannot predict or determine other people’s attitude or actions. Unfortunately, all of those things affect me, no matter the imaginery shell I attempt to build around myself.

I am trying to get okay with working on one thing at a time. Conquering one demon at a time, and allowing myself a little rope to hang myself occasionally. I am that person who doesn’t believe there is a brunette eating alligator in the pond until I jump in and learn my lesson the hard way.

When I don’t prep food for the week, I know without a doubt at week’s end why it’s good for me to do it. When I skip workouts for weeks and then go back, it’s crystal clear why I shouldn’t lay off for a period of time. When I eat one handful of chips with no intention of eating more, I learn that for me, one handful turns into the entire bag.

If there is one thing I hope my daughters learn from having me as their mom, I hope they learn being a flawless, perfect person is impossible. I hope they learn that how you recover from errors in judgment is far more important than the mistake itself. I hope they learn that a genuine apology and self forgiveness is powerful and freeing.

Sometimes mistakes serve as a reminder of the person we want to be. A reminder that it’s time to hit the reset button and start from scratch. When I look back on my life thus far, there are SO many things I regret, but upon closer examination, I’m not sure I would change them. Some of my worst moments as a person were the most fun and where I learned the most about myself.

Strive to be better every day, and forgive yourself when you aren’t. <—- I repeat this daily.


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