Based on Abraham Maslow's book, "Motivation & Personality"
Benefits: A better understanding of yourself and what may be holding you back from realizing your potential; why you feel like you are constantly seeking “more” from life.
So That You Can: Identify specific areas of your life that you can improve by using your deliberate thinking skills, based on the questions you score lowest on.
DON’T LEAVE THIS POST without some actionable steps. Download our FREE printable worksheet here. We also offer a convenient fillable worksheet.
A Little Background Info
Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist and philosopher and is the 10th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
He stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a “bag of symptoms,” as many of his contemporaries did.
His most notable contribution to the field of psychology is his theory dubbed “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”
Maslow’s definition of self-actualization: “[w]hat a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.”
The Expectation Gaps’ synonym for self-actualization = realizing your potential. Our definition of potential/realizing your potential: “Your potential is your natural gifts, skills, abilities, and talents that you may not even realize you have. You are probably not focusing on them on a day-to-day basis, but, if you did focus on them and live into them, you would realize your potential, the best possible version of your life.”
Without Further Ado
To get the maximum pay off from this exercise, take time to consider the questions carefully and be brutally honest with yourself.
Answer the following questions based on this scale:
- 1 = Never
- 2 = Rarely
- 3 = Depends
- 4 = Usually
- 5 = Always
Each question is based on a characteristic that Maslow noted in self-actualized people.
#1 – Honesty – Sense of Humor/Humility
Do you find it easy to laugh at yourself and at the human condition in a jovial way?
For example, you’re in the middle of an important presentation and get completely tongue tied. Do you laugh it off, make a joke of it causing everyone in the room to smile with you, and move on?
#2 – Honesty – Easily relate to the “humanness” of others
Do you find it easy to relate to people who are perceived to be of higher or lower social standing than you? Because you can effortlessly find commonalities to focus on.
Do you tend to naturally feel empathy and affection for people more often than judgment and contempt?
Consider how often you gossip about people, which would indicate that you tend to lean more toward judgment and contempt.
Consider the types of TV shows you watch. Do you prefer to watch shows that highlight people’s vulnerabilities in a relatable way, that focus on fostering empathy (you’d rate closer to a 5) or shows that highlight people’s vulnerabilities in order to scandalize and shame them, to make them seem “beneath” you in some way (you’d rate closer to a 1).
#3 – Honesty – Interpersonal Relationships
When you are attracted to someone, either in a friendly or romantic way, is it more often due to an admiration and appreciation of them, the qualities and virtues they possess, rather than what they have to offer you?
To put the question in perspective, if you were to answer closer to 1 than 5, it would be because you are more likely to be attracted to people who fulfill a basic need of yours. For example, they praise you, shower you with attention, or bend over backwards to make your life easier or better in some way.
Don’t get me wrong, you could score a 5 and still enjoy and appreciate receiving praise, attention, and help, but it would not be the driving force behind your attraction to people. It would be an added benefit.
#4 – Awareness – Efficient Perception
Are you able to come to a good judgment about a person or situation with insufficient evidence? You tend to leap to the right conclusion more often than not. When you try to outline your conclusion to someone else, you get a blank stare. They seem to be clueless and have no idea how you got to that conclusion.
#5 – Awareness – Freshness of Appreciation
Are you able to appreciate the basic goods in life, maybe even with awe and wonder? The joy of a quiet walk in the woods. The beauty of a sunset. The smile of someone you love.
In contrast, if you were to score closer to 1 than 5, it would be because you are always looking for something new, trying to attain the next “best thing,” rather than appreciating the simple things in life. You find yourself comparing your life to others often and trying to maintain a lifestyle based on your perception of someone else’s; the way you think you are supposed to live.
#6 – Awareness – Peak Experiences
Do you find yourself experiencing near-perfect moments, where you somehow feel both more powerful and more helpless than ever before? For example, you are taken over by a song, movie, or performance of some kind. While walking along the beach, you find yourself completely lost in the moment. Or, while looking at someone you love, you find yourself completely enamored with them, so much so that the outside world does not exist for a moment.
Keep in mind that a peak experience is not simply having a moment capture your full attention. It’s also an experience that makes you feel like you learned something in that moment; that it changed you somehow.
#7 – Freedom – Detachment/Objectivity
Are you able to let people “be,” accept them and appreciate them the way that they are? Are you able to see the truth of a person rather than how you want them to be?
In contrast, if you were to score closer to 1 than 5, you would more often feel a desire to change or reshape people to be the way you think they should be, rather than to appreciate who and what they are.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t offer guidance when necessary (as with a child) or when requested (as with an adult). You can still score a 5 if you do this often, but the guidance would be presented in a way that is meant to lead someone to their own answer or their own realization rather than trying to persuade them to adopt your point of view.
#8 – Freedom – Spontaneity
When in a group situation, are you more likely to act in a natural way, be authentic? To be whatever you are in the moment and trust yourself to be that way.
Or, in contrast, are you more likely to put up a front, act the way you think you are expected to act?
#9 – Trust – Yourself and Your Mission in Life
Do you feel strongly that your “self” and your “life’s work” are intertwined? You know what you are best suited for, so you know what will bring you the most joy and what will give you the greatest sense of self. You make pursuing that “thing” your life’s mission and give it a great amount of your energy. Your work is a defining characteristic of yourself.
#10 – Trust – Autonomy
Are you dependent on yourself for growth and development? You tend to be your own boss and remain responsible to yourself. You are not tradition bound and are not afraid to go against the grain. You seek input from others, but, in the end, make your own decisions. Once you make a decision, you are not easily influenced by the opinions of others.
Discover more about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Total Score of 10 - 20
You are quite a distance away from gaining self-actualization, but don’t let that realization alarm or discourage you.
It could be that you are going through a difficult time in your life and are doing all you can just to meet your basic physiological (food, shelter, sleep, clothing) and safety needs (personal security, employment, health, resources). If that’s where you are, all your energy will have to be spent focusing on those needs. Once those are met, you will have some energy reserves to focus on other needs.
It also could mean that you are really struggling to find a sense of love and belonging, which are needed to reach self-actualization, because you are in an abusive or otherwise toxic relationship. Or maybe you have, in general, surrounded yourself with toxic people. You can move beyond those limitations, but it will take a lot of work and probably the involvement of a professional counselor.
I’ve been at the basic need level, more than once, as I’m sure most people have. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, and it’s not something you should feel ashamed to admit.
Total Score of 21 - 40
You’re in the same boat as the majority of the population. You’ve met your basic physiological and safety needs. You’ve probably, at least in part, met your needs of love/belonging and esteem, but you are still seeking something more. You feel incomplete, restless, and don’t feel like you’re being true to yourself or your natural skills and abilities. It’s hard to get out of that space on your own, without some guidance, encouragement, and accountability.
That’s what we’re here for! We’re here to offer content and support that will help you embrace The Cycle of Deliberate Thinking because connection, belonging, authenticity, and your potential are at the heart of The Cycle.
Becoming a deliberate thinker is not a resting place. Deliberate thinking is a habit that you practice daily if you want to realize your full potential and live the fulfilling life you were meant to live. That is the purpose of our content; to help you maintain the habit of deliberate thinking.
Take a look at your scores again. Which questions did you score lowest on? Those are areas of your life that you can improve by using your deliberate thinking skills.
Click here to learn more about The Cycle of Deliberate Thinking.
Total Score of 41 - 50
You’re probably as close to being self-actualized as one can hope to be. Chances are, getting to this state of being took a lot of hard work, has meant facing a lot of difficult situations, and has forced you to make many arduous decisions. Take a minute to recognize this and feel proud of yourself. Not many people are ever able to achieve this state of being.
I would love to have you as a member of The Expectation Gaps’ Circle. I would appreciate your perspective and would love to share ideas with you.
Wondering What I Scored?
No doubt about it, this is a tough test; it’s tough to get brutally honest when facing some of the answers.
I’ve always had a desire to grow and better myself, but I’ve been really focused on intentionally improving myself for about 8 years now.
That being said, I scored a 38. I’m getting there. ?
Only Have 1 Minute
“Abraham Maslow & Self Actualization” (1968) posted on YouTube by Biophily2 on 9.17.16