I have been swimming in this topic for quite some time now. Just treading water. Not necessarily wanting to get to the other side of rigid ground just yet.
I only really remember hearing the word ‘self-actualization’ over a year ago, and now it’s taking up considerable space in my mind on a weekly basis.
What does it mean to be a self-actualized woman? Whose whole being is possessed with the need to pursue and fulfill one’s unique potential?
Maslow taught us through the hierarchy of needs that self-actualization is at the top and can only be attained once we have fulfilled our other core needs including physiological needs, safety needs, love + belonging needs, and self-esteem needs.
What I have read and learned from research is that women tend to reach self-actualization earlier in life. Flowing through the self-esteem needs of achievement, acknowledgment, and recognition from others quite fluidly. Often then wondering…now what? What’s next? That didn’t feel the way I thought it might. Or, it felt good at the time but I am ready for something deeper.
What have I come to do here with my life?
How can I use my innate gifts, strengths, and experience to make a meaningful impact in this world?
It feels like a very privileged topic to be wading around in as a 42-year-old white woman. To have had the ability to fulfill all my core needs already. I fully recognize that we are all at different stages in the level of our needs and am grateful to be where I am. It hasn’t come without suffering, without setbacks, without perseverance.
So here I am. Here you are too – perhaps wondering the same. Perhaps compelled to read this for a reason.
What I had been taught in my leadership life has been a fairly linear, patriarchal model. You set the vision and then take the five or ten steps in order to get there. Set the goal, crush the goal and reap the accolades. Right?
I am now leaning into a different model. One that I wasn’t taught in my leadership life and one that is, I believe, much more aligned with being a self-actualized woman.
I am moving out of thinking and into listening.
Perhaps you hear a calling? A whisper? A deeper yearning? What have you been ignoring? What have you been too busy to notice?
Boldy embracing my feminine power has been the transformation I was seeking for the last decade. I was never aware that feminine power is different and powerful beyond measure. It requires a connection to self, to others, openness, emergence, receptivity, and bravery.
Bravery to put one step in front of the other without having a clear end destination. Bravery in not knowing WHERE you may be going but embracing the possibilities that lie up ahead.
I have learned the self-actualized woman is anchored into her worth and power in a way that brings others along.
The self-actualized woman:
- Embraces the unknown and understands the non-linear way life unfolds
- Practices radical self-compassion and deep acceptance of self
- Is curious, non-judgemental, and expresses gratitude
- Is motivated by growth and committed to expanding more deeply into themselves
- Understands the interconnectedness of life, including how relationships are a portal for all possibilities
- Possesses a sense of equanimity, taking life’s setbacks, up’s and down’s with grace, calmness and composure
You may be on the precipice of self-actualization if you are coming to a place in your life where you are experiencing a yearning for fulfillment on a different level.
So many of us can get stuck in this space, not knowing just HOW to explore and expand. It is during this time of potential change and transformation that your inner critic can pull you back into your comfort zone, trying to keep you safe in what you know.
I invite and encourage you to trust this yearning has a purpose. How could you honour the exploration of what a self-actualized may mean for you in 2021?
If I can support or help guide this exploration please let me know.