Self-actualisation: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs


Self-actualization is a term used for an achievement of self in one’s life of accomplishment in achieving your goals. The basic needs of an individual to achieve fulfilment from gaining basic and psychological needs to having a fulfilling life.


Kurt Goldstein a German psychiatrist first coined the word, however Maslow formed and constructed the experiment to develop the hierarchy. Maslow is a humanistic psychologist who started developing the hierarchy of needs back in 1943. Developing a theory of what drives or motivates an individual in life.

Maslow’s Hierarchy

The pyramid is a five stage model divided into three sections. With all human science we need a base, the basics for the hierarchy of needs is basic essentials such as shelter, food, water, safety and security.

Followed closely by psychological needs, belongingness such relationships including intimate and friends, and finally what we strive for once we have those are, esteem of accomplishment and prestige.

Maslow's Hierarchy of needs.
Image by macrovector on Freepik

The psychological needs of love and friendships and esteem in the feeling of accomplishment can bring further stability into one’s life and the need of self-fulfilment and actualising the fulfilment. In being motivated to achieve one’s goals and actualising one’s desires without obstacles.

In 1987 Maslow later clarified that satisfaction is not an all or none phenomenon, giving clarification that accomplishment can come before relationships and gaining food security. Risk-takers, for example, ignore security and dive straight in the hope of accomplishment.

Maslow stated that needs not be meet 100% of the time prior to the next need to emerge. You may gain accomplishment by getting your first job out of college/university, gaining satisfaction not knowing if the position is secure.


We have a structure, but how does it stand up in real life? Bringing dreams into existence when one has a stable life, or can we skip steps? Obviously, if we self actualise being homeless and that fulfils us, are we skipping all the steps?

One can be highly critical of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs based on desires of an individual, but outliers are not statistically significant if the world is within the standards of a pyramid. Most of us desire warmth, a roof over our heads and food in our cupboards.

Achieving self-actualisation is more about focusing one’s mind on what you can achieve rather than what you want to achieve, realising the desire over need. As they say, take small steps to achieve big goals.

Attempting to build your desires around others is tough on one’s esteem, maybe punished, as they may not have the same determination and motivation as you do.


We all have our own path to self-actualisation, set boundaries and goals to achieve your own fulfilment to what you view as success.

Following a pyramid may not work, you may take small steps throughout life to achieve the desire of fulfilment. Self-actualisation can manifest over time and come to fruition in a blink of an eye.

Do not expect it to manifest by itself. Believe in yourself and pace yourself to achieve the goals you desire.


Research History, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Simply Psychology, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Gay Patricia Matheson, Your Guide to Self-Actualization: How to Be Happy, Successful, and Free



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