What is self-actualization and why are there inhibitions to self-actualizaton peculiar to women? In this episode, understand why you fall short in the drive towards self-actualization and what you can do to ensure your living is as intentional and purposeful as possible.
What is Self-Actualization?
Self-actualization is the realization, or fulfilment, of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone. It is also defined as a psychological process aimed at maximizing the use of a person’s abilities and resources. In other words, Self-actualization embraces the full realization of a person’s creative, intellectual, and social potential through Internal Drive. It’s not to be confused with external rewards like money, power, or status – No.
When we consider the hierarchy of needs as put forward by Abraham Maslow, you’d realize that the basic human needs like food, water, security, they come at the lowest point before love and self-esteem and then self-fulfilment and actualization rest at the peak of needs. This is my point of derivation to drive this topic of self-actualization amongst the womenfolk.
It is quite unfortunate that in this part of the world, more women face greater hurdles to achieving fulfillment. Heck, many women do not even identify with their need for self-actualization. Women are conditioned to diminish themselves and live a life of serial sacrifice. You’re made to believe that you should derive joy and fulfillment from things you sacrifice for the sake of others, ranging from the family front to the work front. This shouldn’t come as such a surprise because from the pyramid of needs of Maslow, you can see that one has to satisfy psychological needs before having the capacity to reach for self-actualization. The psychological needs include love and relationship and self-esteem.
THE HIERARCHY OF NEEDS.
So let me go over this for a bit. When you look at the hierarchy of needs by Maslow, physiological needs like food, water, warmth, shelter; that is, the very basic needs, come first. It means that a person needs to of course eat, have a roof over their head, have some clothes to wear before anything else; and then the safety needs, to feel secure and safe. And then you move on to the psychological needs where a person needs to feel love, intimate relationship, needs to feel that they belong to a circle or they’re accepted in the society or in a particular circle that they’re interested in or accepted by their romantic partner.
After this, before you can graduate to the self-esteem needs; that is prestige, feeling of accomplishment, and until you are done with this before you can actually move to the peak of the pyramid, where you have Self-actualization; which of course, means achieving your full potential, including creative activities, your dreams, and ambitions. Okay, so I wanted to go through this step by step so that you’d understand what I’m talking about when I’m trying to picture this amongst the womenfolk.
HOW YOU REMAIN FAR FROM SELF-ACTUALIZATION.
A key takeaway from this means that if you are living trying to gain love and validation from a person who isn’t giving it, you will always be far from self-fulfillment or self-actualization because your psychological needs have not been met. If your self-esteem is low, which of course, would be the reason why you are gunning for someone else’s validation all the time, you would always be far from self-actualization because your psychological needs have not been met. Also, if you don’t have the basic needs that you really require; you can’t feed well in a day, you can’t easily see water to bathe and keep yourself clean; if you can’t feel safe and secure, you’d, of course, be very far from self-actualization because your basic needs have not been met. So it’s really simple: you cannot find yourself if you are lost living up to someone else’s standard, and you definitely cannot be self-fulfilled if your Self is lost.
Why is there a peculiarity for this amongst women?
Of course, this means that more women do not have their psychological needs met enough to even begin to identify with their self-fulfillment needs. So if you are with a partner who isn’t giving you enough value, who isn’t giving you the validation that you desperately seek, you are very far from actually living your life to the fullest. And in the first place, you cannot be with a partner that you desperately desire validation from if your self-esteem is intact.
So the picture here is you have to actually discover yourself. Develop your self first before you can be intentional about your relationship because your relationship matter so much in the way you live your life. If there’s fire in your home, you cannot leave your home to go and give value outside of your home. You understand that. So when you are desperately seeking for love and validation from others, especially your romantic partner, you always be far from self-actualization.
And this is a problem that is widespread amongst women because women are the ones who end up always desperate for validation from their romantic partners. I’m sure you would understand what I mean.
It’s either. “Oh, I want to do this, but I don’t know if John is going to let me do it”. You know, it always comes up one way or the other, or “I have a flat bum, and I always see him looking at the women with the big bums”. You’re never going to feel enough.
“My boobs are really small, but my boyfriend likes big boobs” or “the last girl I saw him bat his lashes at had big boobs”. Now you’re already insecure. And then you start looking for how to make your boobs bigger – not because you really want your boobs to be bigger, but because you want him to look at you the way he’s looking at the women with big boobs. So you are seeking his validation.
How can you even identify with the need for bigger things when you are still stuck in the validation needs from your partner? That’s the picture with many women.
Then again, more women struggle with self-esteem, which is essentially the reason you are desperate for validation; because if your self-esteem is intact, if you’re secure in yourself, you’re comfortable in your skin, if you have discovered yourself to the extent that nobody can take away from you – then you are not going to be seeking desperately for the validation of any other person, even if that person is your romantic partner. And then you would have the space of mind to actually identify with your need for self-actualization.
REASONS FOR THIS PECULIARITY.
The reasons for these go deeper than just deciding because I’m sure no woman decides to not be self-fulfilled. No, these reasons actually go way back. You realize that there are different upbringing patterns between boys and girls.
1. BE SEEN, NOT HEARD.
In most homes, especially in this part of the world; the boys are mostly encouraged to be vocal while the girls are encouraged to be silent.
There was this popular saying when we used to grow up: “As a girl, you are meant to be seen not to be heard”. Oh, my school principal resounded this to us at almost every assembly!
It essentially silences the voice of the young girl and makes her feel that her voice does not matter, that whatever she has to say does not matter; she just needs to be seen. And being seen means, of course, looking pretty, having the perfect perky breasts, having the perfect curve of hips and ass, and that is what she concerns herself with, while the boys go out there and be the vocal ones. And then you realize that the girls who end up talking a lot, or always seem to have opinions about everything – they’re seen as show-offs. They’re seen as proud.
They’re seen as less woman – “Hey will you shut it, you’re a woman just clip it a bit”.
And also boys are encouraged to be confident and bold. Of course, you can expect this because when a person goes out being vocal, the person has to naturally have a confidence or boldness around them that gives them the motivation to be that vocal person. And of course, you should expect that the person who is silent most of the time, not out of her will but a person who has been conditioned to silence, ends up being the pliable one. And because she’s being praised for being pliable, she doesn’t see something bad about it. So you are being silenced and you are being praised for being pliable and being humble – And yes that humility card.
The Humility card is pulled a lot for girls, you know, you need to be humble; and the definition of humility for girls is so boxed up that humility is equated to subservience. It’s equated to being pliable, to not being firm. It’s equated to taking whatever that is dished out at you – you making so many sacrifices at the expense of yourself.
2. DON’T GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY.
Boys seem to get praised for getting things done. When a guy goes out there and fixes the car or gets the machine to work or fixes the television, they’re being praised. But when a girl does things like that, they’re being shut down like “Don’t get your hand dirty”. I’m sure you would know that. Girls don’t get their hands dirty because girls are supposed to be pretty.
You are supposed to be the pretty one. Don’t get your hands dirty. You can only get your hands dirty when you’re doing the menial jobs in the house like washing dishes and doing the laundry. The activities that don’t really require your intellectual prowess are the ones that are usually being pushed to the girls.
So the boys end up already having a mind of searching out for the next big thing they have to do, while you, the girl, are more occupied with keeping everywhere looking pretty, keeping everywhere looking clean, and, of course, keeping yourself looking clean. No stress. No stress to the brains. You don’t need any stress at all.
3. YOUR OPINION IS NOT NEEDED.
The boys also are usually the ones that are asked for their opinions.
“Hey Joe, what do you think about this? I want to sign a new deal, what do you think?”
“Your father wants us to move to the States, what do you think about it?”
But the girls – their opinions are not that sought for. And of course, even if they might have been sought for, the girl has already been conditioned to silence and pliability. So if you were moving, all she needs to do is pack up things – and get moving. It’s that basic for the girl.
Then boys receive minimal criticism. You see, this critic of a thing is a big problem. It is a big problem for you. Boys seem to receive minimal criticism even when they do stuff that is wrong. But the girl is criticized for the littlest mistakes. You’re criticized all the way from your dressing to socializing, to even the attitude of boys. If a boy talks to you, your parents – your mother, your father criticizes you for it. “Hey, stop slutting around. You shouldn’t be talking to boys.” But you’re not even the one talking to the boy, he’s talking to you.
So girls end up walking on edges, you know, like they’re always expecting judgment. They’re always expecting criticism. ‘What is it that I’m going to do wrong next?” So, that criticism, it has formed a part of the girl, so she does not want to be criticized. She has had more than her share of criticism, hence she just shuts her mouth and tries to be as agreeable as possible. Just shut down and avoid criticism.
These are reasons that keep many women seeking validation because they have grown up always having to do things the way they are being asked to do it.
5. SOCIETAL CONSTRUCTS ON MARRIAGE AND CHILD-BEARING
Then again, the societal constructs on marriage and child-bearing as a ceiling for women’s achievement is a thing. It’s a really big deal. So the selling of marriage as the ultimate point for women leads to a lot of desperation and validation-seeking; of course, because you’re going to end up losing yourself just for any man who wants to marry you.
Remember the pattern?
“Hey, Joe really likes you.”
“Yeah, but he’s not ready. John is ready to marry.”
So many women end up marrying the man that is ready, not the man that they want to marry. Heck, they don’t even have a choice. He just has to be ready for marriage. He just needs to mention marriage; like “I want to marry”, “I need a wife”.
And because that is the ‘highest form of achievement’, you are willing to jump into it. And the moment you have the ring on your finger, that is your own ceiling of achievement. You don’t identify with your self-actualization. You end up not being fulfilled eventually.
You realize that many women, more women, do not make it to the peak in the hierarchy of needs. And these are inhibitions that you go through as a woman.
SELLING MARRIAGE AND CHILDBEARING AS THE SINGLE MOST DETERMINING ELEMENTS OF WOMANHOOD OR USEFULNESS AS A WOMAN.
That’s why you have this disparity among women – you have the women that have kids, the women that are barren, they women that are unable to have children, and of course, there’s nothing like the woman that does not want to have a child.
Why will you not want to have a child? Don’t you know that childbearing is a blessing? It’s the ceiling factor. It shows the world that you are a woman. Heck, having breasts and a vagina is not enough to show the world that you’re a woman. You need to have a child – even if you’re not in any way willing or ready to have a child. You might not even be in the psychological space to parent a child. But you just need to show the society that yes, you can have Children.
And the moment you have the Children, that is your highest achievement. Everything else goes out the window. You lead your entire life sacrificing day to day for your kids, for your husband. You are the sacrificial lamb all the time. You are the one to give up everything for the family. There’s no discussion about “I compromised the last time, maybe you should compromise this time around.” No, that doesn’t even come into the picture.
UPHOLDING ZERO IDENTITY FOR A WOMAN UNTIL MARRIAGE.
This is also a big deal. You go to a lot of places, Oh! I have had my fair share of this. So you don’t have a surname until you’re married. You don’t have a place of origin until you’re married. You don’t have a village until you’re married. So it seems like every existence of a woman is being placed on the shoulder of a man who will come to marry her. In many places, you can’t even lay claim to your own children because you’re the mother, not the father. These are issues that inhibit women a lot from getting to that point; to the peak of the hierarchy of needs, self-actualization.
Still talking about the societal construct on marriage and childbearing as ceiling for women’s achievement: You also realize that there is different respect accorded a woman who is married that is not deemed worthy to be accorded to a woman who is single.
So, of course, if I am going to have more respect in society because I am married, then, of course, I’m going to go out of my way to get married. And when I do that ‘I have arrived’.
Of course, you have arrived. You’re a married woman now, congratulations. You have all the respect. But how real is that respect? Because it really appears superficial a lot of times, especially when it has to force you to do the things you wouldn’t want to do or the things that are unhealthy for you; to stay in a place that’s unhealthy for you, and when it’s going to actually deprive you of every other fulfillment of living a purposeful and intentional life.
THE HUSBAND PERSONA.
Then this last point is probably the most important point when it comes to these societal constructs of marriage and childbearing: Selling husband as solver of all problems and provider of every basic need.
Now let’s go back to the pyramid for a bit. You have to remember that when the physiological needs have been met, that is the basic needs: food, water, warmth, security, safety; and then the psychological needs come in: you’re being accepted, you’re being given love, you’re being made to feel like you belong; then the next step is self-fulfilment. Right.
Now, when the husband becomes the Saviour of the day, quote-unquote, when the husband is being sold as a solver of all problems and provider of all needs; Hey Girl! You don’t need to do anything in the world. You don’t need to touch anything. You cannot bend to pick up a pin. Your husband would give you everything you ever thought of. The moment you have that husband, you can never work, you can never lift your hands. You will never suffer. You will have Children. Like the husband is the single most important provider.
So now how do you expect this woman to seek out any other potentials of hers when she has gotten the most important needs of all? Come on. You have a husband now. So you never lack food. Water. You never lack warmth. You never lack rest. He will secure you – give you the all the safety you need. And of course, give you intimacy. He will give you the validation right?
And when he does this and all he needs from you is, do nothing. Don’t think any other thing. Don’t pursue any other dreams. Don’t indulge any other things that should give you joy and fulfilment. He’ll give you everything you want. So tell me, Girl, would you ever bother? No, you wouldn’t. Because you will feel you’ve got everything.
You can spend decades in that marriage living away from your life, years are passing by. And then until someday you probably get frustrated because you have come to realize how much you have given up. You’ve got these things, right, but they no longer seem enough. Or maybe he’s out there living his life and you’re locked up in here, of course, getting food, getting water, getting the basic things you need. And you are not identifying with your self-fulfillment potentials. And someday you wake up, you’re frustrated. Probably you’re tired. You want to give up, but you already gave in to the inhibitions of your self-actualization potentials.
HUMAN BEINGS CRAVE COMFORT.
You must understand that what people really want to do is be comfortable. And for a woman, if it’s a man that would give the comfort – as is being preached a lot – she’s most likely to give up everything to be that comfortable, with the man. So it’s one very serious inhibition for women, because most times, women that go this way hardly fall into the hands of good men who actually encourage them to go out there and best themselves.
If you are a woman who’s in constant search of validation and you’re ready to give up everything about your life to get comfortable in the house of a man., chances are, you will end up falling into the hands of a beast because you are not thinking it through. You just want the available man.
And human beings are funny. He might actually be a nice person or be a good person in the beginning. But the moment he realizes that you never say no, you never have anything else to do apart from taking care of him and take care of the home… ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’- sure you’ve had that before. So over time: you don’t give him any challenge, don’t give him anything to think about except coming home to a clean home, to food, and to sex; he might get corrupt along the way, and eventually, he will turn into someone you cannot recognize anymore. And that is how your frustration starts. And then you begin to realize how much you have missed out on life and how much of your potentials you did not tap in to.
WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR SELF-ACTUALIZATION?
So now that you have known all of these inhibitions to your self-actualization as a woman, the question is, are you going to keep living in oblivion? Or are you going to get up and discover yourself?
Understand the hierarchy of needs. Understand how purposeful and intentional your life is supposed to be. Understand that you shouldn’t put your entire life in the hands of another person. You shouldn’t let another person run your life because you were born with a purpose. You were born with a gift to give to the world. You were not born with a gift for only your husband or only your children. You are an entity in this whole entire life and in the equation of the world, YOU ARE SIGNIFICANT.
So why would you like to live your whole life – all of the gifts and potentials you have been given – for only a really, really small circle of people who are probably going to frustrate you at the end because you have given up everything. Serial sacrificing is a big problem for women.
So why don’t you today, as you have understood these natural inhibitions that come up by virtue of you being a woman, start now to plan your life. You can start now to say no to what you wouldn’t want to tolerate. It’s not late – it’s never too late to start. So why don’t you right now make up your mind to discover yourself so much that you can tell what is good for you.
And then when you need the input of others, it is not because you’re searching for validation. It is because you want to gather more information. It is because you want to see other points of view to make the right choice for you. Not because you’re going to hand over your life for someone else or for some other people to run because they will ruin you trust me. There is only one you. Everybody is looking out for themselves. The moment you leave yourself empty and hand over yourself as a responsibility to someone else, they cannot look out for themselves and look out for you equally. Something will always take the upper hand and it’s not going to be you. It’s going to be them.
If you’re a mother, please make changes. Bitch your daughter up. Yes, you really need to. You need to teach your daughter, teach your sister, teach yourself, that your life should be intentional and purposeful. You need to make conscious efforts, conscious steps, to grow your self-esteem and reach for your maximum height.
If you’re an adult woman, your age does not matter. It’s never ever too late to start taking actionable steps to move away from these inhibitions and be truly fulfilled. Look at this hierarchy. Ask yourself how much of your needs you’re taking up intentionally and purposefully. Read good self-help books. Imbibe all the positivity that you can muster. You really need it. You are going to need it. As a woman out there, it’s not easy. It’s not easy at all. A lot of things come into play; a lot of inhibitions here and there.
The society is not making it easy for you, so you don’t have to let them take the upper hand. If you don’t know yourself, society will use you and dump you. You are not anybody’s ultimate responsibility. You are first your own responsibility before anybody else’s. You should be ready to filter who you accept into your life and for what reason. So everybody needs to have something they are going to contribute to your life and it’s got to be something you will tolerate; something you want to come in.
So know these inhibitions and learn how to handle them. Until I can see you next week – Happy Bitching.
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