Humans are tangled balls of hope, insecurity and desire. Untangling isn’t something someone does for you. Support groups or therapists help, but bottom line, it’s your call.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow described self-actualization as effectively fulfilling talent and potential. If you’re unsure about either talent or potential, what then?
Meet yourself. Chart a new course by following these 6 steps:
1. Embrace Your Inner Rebel. The rebel gets a bad rap because of societal references to rebels without a cause, or destructive rebels. But the American Revolution was a rebellion, as was the Protestant Reformation, when certain Christians defied the Catholic Church. We should thank Rebels’ powerfully positive intentions for good in the world.
You have a genetically hardwired rebel. It’s the kid who couldn’t wait to grow up, find a partner, craft an independent life–and buy a convertible despite Dad’s disapproval. Your rebel launched your adulthood. Search for that dormant rebel. Rest assured. It’s there.
2. Cultivate Rebel Connection: Locate your Rebel. Cultivate the connection to initiate change. You’ve got a personal revolution going on. Time is precious.
Every minute of waking time is occupied either by non-negotiable obligations (school, job, aging parents, children) or by negotiable “free time.” In fact, negotiable time isn’t free. Every minute counts when you’re talking about time.
Spend negotiable time watching TV? Lunch with people you don’t even like? Write down how you spend this time. Unhappy with your choices? Make new ones. Then make a bold list of your talent and potential, as you see it. Your Rebel protects the time and resources you need to be your best self. Choose wisely.
3. Acknowledge and Dismantle the Committee: Also called the inner critic. Many people believe they are their own worst critic. But no one lands on the planet damaged by harsh self-criticism. Other people drive it. Parents damage us, as do other well-meaning (or just plain mean) relatives.
We’re not designed to hurt each other, but we’re evolving. It happens. Don’t let people or incidents from the past hold you hostage. That was then. This is now.
Another thing: We put people on our Committee. Those we want to impress. Those we admire. It’s totally human. But be aware, when you want someone to like you, they’ve got power over you. Acknowledge your desire for acceptance, but realize this - whether someone likes you or not, the basic goodness of who you are remains the same. Nobody is important enough to alter your opinion of yourself to suit them. It’s a losing proposition.
4. Ask Why? Ask why about everything, not only why someone is on your Committee. Why do you spend time the way you do? Why are your friends your friends? Why do you have that job? Maybe the answers are affirming. Maybe the answers are worrisome. Maybe change is in order. Socrates wrote,“The unexamined Life is not worth living.” Being clear about choices you’ve made encourages you to lean into a happier life.
5. Ask “What If?” What if you chose to use time differently once a week? Or reached out to someone who could become an ally or friend? Don’t be afraid to ask “What if?” as you review your personal lists. Asking questions is a solid step toward self-actualization. You are meant to fulfill your talent and potential. It’s your contribution to the planet.
6. Be Brave. Definition? Showing up when you’d rather not and feel out of steam. If self-doubt or disillusionment threatens to sabotage you? Take a hot shower. Go to bed early. Call someone who loves you. Chat. The key to change is in the details. Stay in present time. Make one small change, followed by another. Work up courage gradually. That’s the key to actualizing yourself. You’re worth it and we need you. So begin. Right now.