From Self Awareness to Self Actualization

Posted by: Stephanie SaintCyr

One of the first times I was aware that I was a self, I was about five. I had an experience of the sadness of life, and how short a time it is that I get to be here on earth as myself. Learning who I am is an ongoing process. Every day there is more that unfolds, more that becomes conscious in my mind about me as a human.
We have put a lot of emphasis on personal growth in recent years. On knowing ourselves, on healing any wounding or damage we may have accrued along the way, on exploration. While all of that is useful and certainly a part of my own journey, there is a way that it can be limited.
If we are doing the self awareness exploration out of trying to perfect the self, a form of self loathing, then we will often feel empty or as though what we are reaching for is forever beyond our grasp. This is because what we are reaching for is some version of perfection, a way of getting an “A,” a way to feel good based on achievement, rather than an organic growth into who we are meant to be.
Rumi says – “Close your eyes. Fall in Love. Stay there.” I believe that this is the difference between self awareness and self actualization. Awareness happens in our brains and thoughts, actualization happens in our souls and hearts. When we are still and look inside with love, as most contemplative practices ask us to do, then immense shifts of perspective and love can happen. Sometimes those shifts involve changes in our external world (a change of career, a geographical move), sometimes a kaleidoscopic shift in how we view ourselves or our world.
Self actualization, realizing my potential, my best self, is a shift in how I express or embody myself, how you express and embody you. It is only possible from a loving and compassionate viewpoint. When you “close your eyes and fall in love.”
The way that I connect this with the Science of Mind is in that SOM teaches contemplative practices, and the goals of those practices are that we embody our best and most amazing selves and lives. Certainly in participating and practicing SOM I have had more opportunities to be becoming my best self and to build my best life, to “close my eyes and fall in love”.

© Center for Spiritual Living Morristown