Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Value of Self Actualization

A little boy was sitting in church one Sunday and he began to act up and get a little loud. Without a word his father pinched him on the arm. This was the only reminder of the lesson that he’d been taught about how to act in public that was necessary for the boy to be quiet and sit still. He did, however, need a reminder every couple of weeks or so. That little boy was me.

We often try to think of the things that we are taught and what values we hold true and sacred. Sometimes it is difficult to nail down exactly how we feel about a certain subject and it is even harder to understand why.

Over the last few months I have been put into a position to look more deeply into myself. This has given me a better understanding of who I am but in doing so I’ve been able to have a better understanding of other people as well. I’ve learned that it’s important to learn as much as I can about myself. At first glance everyone would probably say that they know exactly who they are and why they are that person. This self opinion likely isn’t exactly true. It takes some hard thought and courage to really look behind all of the curtains and cobwebs to find who you really are.

One of the values that I hold most closely to my own identity lies in the belief that, as cliché as it sounds, you get what you give. I have tried to live my life to be a good person. I look to as many sides of an issue as possible and form my opinion based on, not only how I initially feel about a subject, but also how the other person feels. Admittedly another cliché holds true as well; you hurt the ones you love the most. Far too often I take for granted the people that I love and don’t show them the way that I truly feel, rather opting for the assumption that it is understood – even when my actions might say something contrary to my heart and thoughts.

There is nothing more important to me than my friends and family. Most people are blessed with a small handful of close friends but I can truly say that there are at least eight people who are not related to me and another dozen who are that would drop anything to come to my aid if I were in a dire situation. I value these people above even myself. They are the inspiration for my day to day actions and they are the reason that I strive to be a better person. It is in them that I can see little bits of myself and also bits of who I’d like to be. If I were to truly let any one of them down I would lose an important part of who I am. My greatest fear is that I will be a disappointment to any of these people. It is for that reason that I try to disappoint myself first so that I can make changes to who I am before I have a chance to fail them.

Often I make the mistake of placing too much emphasis on making a good impression with the people I meet. Once an acquaintance becomes a friend sometimes I assume that they know enough about who I am and how I feel that I don’t need to spend as much time telling them how much I appreciate them. It is an unforgiveable error but somehow when it happens my loved ones do forgive me. They know that it is not with malicious intent that they sometimes seem to be forgotten. It hurts me to feel that way, like I’ve been forgotten, and I’m sure that the pain is similar for them. I believe that, perhaps, it is because I feel that they are so much a part of me that they don’t need as much care and nurturing. I mentally abuse myself but I shouldn’t let that spill over onto the ones I love. I know this.

It is important to me that I am recognized by others for my accomplishments. I spent so many years cast to the side by others for being different that now, when I receive compliments I bask in them as though they were raindrops cooling me from the heat of the summer. I let each word fall on me and am gratified, humbled and ashamed at once. I enjoy receiving positive feedback and accolades to the point that it makes me feel dirty. For every bit that I am built up by others I am busy tearing myself down on the other side.

These views have brought me to where I am today. I have found that, indeed, often times the nice guy does finish last. My hope is that I can continue to grow as a person and possibly reach a point of self actualization. The problem with the theory of self actualization, as I see it however, is that once it is reached the person will, nay, should have no idea that it has been realized. For that matter, anyone who thinks that they have come to that point is farther away from it than when their journey began.


  1. Another great blog, Dan. You write things as they are and we can all relate to what you say. Very insightful. I think one of life's problems is that we don't take time out to reflect, genuinely reflect on who we are as people as a whole and individuals. Your blog is great; you've got great insights.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words.

    Most of what I've been writing lately has been assignments though. I'm afraid I'm going to bore people with the topic.

  3. Dan,

    I don't think it's possible to bore people with your writing, not from what I've seen at least. Keep it up!