The Operating Manual for the Self, Chapter  7

Human Needs

A need is a hole, an emptiness, that we experience as a drive for fulfillment. It is a motivator. When we satisfy a need we experience pleasure, and we can feel contented, satisfied, relaxed, happy, and joyful. One source of happiness is fulfilling our needs. Fulfilling a need is “filling a hole,” and we feel a sense of “wholeness,” of completeness.

Our human needs are:

  • Survival
  • Safety and security
  • Belonging/loving
  • Self-esteem
  • To produce, to create, to know
  • To achieve Self-actualization
  • To experience beauty, mystery, and transcendence

The two words that generally apply to needs are satisfaction and fulfillment. As each need is different, satisfying different needs brings different feelings and different experiences. For example, satisfying our need for safety and security is very different from experiencing beauty. Yet both are needs.

Our ability to satisfy our needs grows as we grow, develop, and mature. As we satisfy one need, we open up possibilities for satisfy- ing the next need. Beyond survival and safety/security, we can also go up and down the list in any order we want. However, we tend to progress through the needs as listed above, before returning to seek greater fulfillment of a previous need. The fulfillment of each need enriches the experience of fulfilling the other  needs.

Point of Empowerment: The fulfillment of our needs, in ever-increasing degrees of depth and satisfaction, is a lifelong process that brings ever-increasing intensities of happiness and joy.

 Not Knowing How, Doing Our Best

At times we do not know how to fulfill our needs. Our knowledge may be extremely limited. In using the limited means at our disposal to get what we need, we sometimes behave badly. If our Self has become very distorted, damaged, or lost, our approach to fulfilling our needs can be extremely destructive. However, most of the time, we are doing the best we can to fulfill our needs, using what we know at any given moment.

Point of Empowerment: Remember, all behavior—our thinking, feeling, and acting (taking action)—has the purpose of fulfilling our needs, no matter how destructive or distorted the means of fulfillment may be.

 Unfulfilled Needs

Needs seek their own fulfillment with a driving force that is sometimes very intense. Unmet needs can stay with us for an entire lifetime. Unfulfilled childhood needs can seek satisfaction well beyond childhood. But this seeking distorts people of all ages—adolescents, young adults, adults, seniors, and elders—as it distorts the Self. When we are no longer a child, we cannot fulfill the child’s needs. But the child inside us may desperately press toward the satisfaction of its needs. This creates havoc in our life.

In addition, our methods of seeking to fulfill the child’s needs are the child’s methods. As an adolescent or as an adult, using the child’s methods to get what we want guarantees failure. For example, if a  child does not feel that he belongs and that he    is unloved, he will spend his entire lifetime seeking to fulfill these needs. He will use excessive force, or passive/dependent1 manipulation, to get other people to give him what he  wants,  so that he can feel that he belongs and that he is loved. These efforts are doomed to failure, yet the unfulfilled need continues to press for satisfaction.

Point of Empowerment: Everyone has some unmet child- hood needs. We need to identify the unmet needs and put them to rest. We can then focus on fulfilling the needs that are appropriate to our developmental self/stage of life.

Practice: If you have serious unfulfilled childhood needs, get help to resolve and release the desire or pressure to fulfill them.

Let’s explore our needs.

Survival Needs: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual

Physical Survival

The first goal of survival is to preserve our physical life. We have a powerful survival instinct that we’re born with, that’s programmed into our genes. If our physical survival is threatened, we automatically and instinctively respond to the threat. We will take almost any action to diminish and eliminate that threat in order to preserve our survival. This is our “fight or flight” survival mechanism.

  • A person can pretend to be needy (dependent) in a helpless manner (passive) to assert pressure on another

To illustrate the instinctive nature of our survival needs, consider how an infant behaves. An infant knows when its survival needs are being met; when this happens it feels satisfied, relaxed, and happy.

When they are not being met, the infant feels immense discomfort and cries. Mother Nature has made the crying of an infant almost intolerable to its mother. A mother instinctively feels the discomfort of her infant, and wants to respond immediately to its crying. The infant instinctively knows this and uses its crying to get its needs met.

Point of Empowerment: Physical survival is our first priority.

Practice: Was your physical survival ever threatened? What did you do? Sense how powerful you became in order to stay alive.

Emotional Survival

When emotional stress is so intense that our emotional survival is threatened, we instinctively respond to the threat. If the emotional threat is external, we may verbally or physically defend our Self against it, using our “fight” response. For example, if someone is harshly and constantly critical of us, we will defend our Self and fight with the critical person, arguing that the criticism is unjust. Or we may withdraw emotionally—the “flight” response—to a place inside our Self where we feel that our emotional survival isn’t threatened.

If the threat to our emotional survival originates from within our Self, we utilize our emotional defense mechanisms to protect us. We have many defense mechanisms. For example, if we are faced with chronic, overwhelming sadness or anxiety, we may become depressed. The depression numbs our feelings. This numbness preserves our emotional survival by preventing us from becoming emotionally overwhelmed. In this situation, depression is a defense mechanism. Similarly, depression can be an emotional defense mechanism in situations that we perceive as dangerous, and in which we feel powerless to protect our Self. Its numbing effect protects us from overwhelming, paralyzing fear.

Point of Empowerment: We use defense mechanisms to stabilize and to protect our emotional life.

Practice: See if you can notice a defense mechanism in operation. When you feel a frightening emotion, is there something that occurs that diminishes the intensity of that feeling or distracts you from it?

Mental Survival

Mental survival drives us to create and maintain order and mean- ing in our life. We experience disorder, chaos, and meaningless as threats to our mental survival, threats to our well-being. If something threatens meaning or order, we feel anxious. We respond by taking action to change the situation. If we cannot be effective in creating this change, we may employ the defense mechanism of denial. We simply refuse to recognize the existence of the threat. We deny its existence and then feel that we can hold on to our sense of meaning and order. Eventually the denial breaks down. We are compelled to search for an effective way to deal with the threatening situation.

Point of Empowerment: We need order and meaning in our life.

Practice: Were order and meaning ever threatened in your life? What did you do to reestablish them?

Spiritual Survival

Spiritual survival is the preservation of human dignity and of our spirit. When we are robbed of our dignity, we can become enraged (full of rage) or depressed. Enraged or depressed behavior can appear wild and irrational. It may be hard to understand, but violence can be a way of restoring our dignity. It is an extreme, yet powerful, protest against real or perceived oppression. In the face of situations that crush our dignity, depression is a way of shutting down. By shutting down, we conserve the dignity that remains.

People say, “My spirit has been crushed.” By spirit, they are referring to their sense of aliveness, their willingness to actively live life and to take on life’s challenges. If a person’s spirit has been crushed, it must be restored. A crushed spirit is a human tragedy that takes time to heal and restore, but the healing and restoring must be done.

Point of Empowerment: If human dignity and the human spirit are threatened, our spiritual survival is threatened.

Practice: Was your dignity or spirit ever threatened? How did you respond to the threat?

Survival Throughout the Life Span

As a need, physical survival stays the same throughout the life span. The way we assure our physical survival changes. The child is dependent on his/her parents for survival. The adult works, is productive, and therefore provides for his/her own physical survival.

Emotional, mental, and spiritual survival mean different things to us as we progress through the life cycle. For example, emotional survival to an adolescent is having friends. Emotional survival to an adult may mean using one’s power to deal with a situation involving extreme emotional stress. Emotional survival to an elder may mean having interaction with other people to avoid isolation.

Safety and Security

We feel safe when we are free from threats to our well-being. With safety, we can relax. We don’t need to be on guard or afraid. We feel secure when we feel confident that what we need will be there for us when we need it. We know that what we have will not be easily lost.

We know that support for our well-being will be there when we need it. A child feels that he can depend on his parents to   be available when they are needed. An adult feels secure in the continued presence of his spouse’s love.

Safety and security provide us with feelings of comfort. When safety and security are well established, they fade into the back- ground as needs. They move into the foreground of our awareness when they are threatened. We then take action to reestablish them. A young child continually seeks safety and security from her parents. When these are present, the child feels free to explore her environment. She can leave her parents’ side, go exploring, without feeling anxious, without feeling what is called “separation anxiety.” The child knows she has a home base, the parent, to return to. The absence of safety and security is debilitating for a child. The worry and anxiety about the parent’s absence can be pushed into the child’s unconscious, and can last for a lifetime. There can exist a fear of abandonment; this in turn constantly creates anxiety and depression. If these worries, anxieties, and fears exist for a person, they need to be resolved and healed.

If a person feels safe and secure throughout the life span, he or she can explore the limits of the Self, seeking Self-actualization. If there is fear and anxiety, and if a person feels unsafe and insecure, the ability to expand, grow, and explore is diminished.

Point of Empowerment: Feeling safe and secure is a necessity. It is the basis for moving forward in life. If a person   is provided with an emotional home, a support, that person can leave this home to explore life.

Practice: Think about your safety and security. In what areas of your life do you feel safe and secure? In what areas of your life do you feel that your safety and security are threatened? What steps do you need to take to feel more safe and secure?

Point of Empowerment: Our needs for survival and safety/ security give rise to a part of the Self called “The Protector.”

Belonging and Loving


Belonging involves being a part of something outside of our Self. Belonging is about relationships and connections, both of which are vital to our well-being. We are driven, by need, to establish relationships and connections with others. The pain of being or feeling isolated from others shows how important these connections are to us. We deeply value “family,” in whatever form that takes. We sometimes hold on to very unsatisfying relationships in order to be in a family. The statement “I don’t feel like I belong” is profoundly painful. Not belonging can cause severe anxiety, depression, and loneliness. We fear loneliness. Some people are terrified by loneliness and pursue belonging, relationships, and connections with others at any cost.

Point of Empowerment: The pain of isolation shows us how important our connections to others are. In “be-longing” there is “be(ing)” and “longing.” Part of our being is longing for connection.

Practice: Take a moment to feel how important your relationships are to you. Feel grateful that you have these relationships.

The first group that we belong to is a family. The universal image that we have of a family consists of a mother, a father, and a child (or children). However, the modern family takes many diverse forms. There is also the “extended family” of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and whoever else is close enough to be considered “family.” All these family configurations can satisfy our need to belong.

As we reach adolescence, we develop a peer group, a group of friends that become very important to us. We may join a club, or feel very connected to our school. Adolescents begin to establish romantic relationships. As adults, romantic relationships, love relationships, are crucial ways to fulfill the need for belonging. “I belong to (belong with) my boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.” As adults we may establish our own family, separate from the family we grew up in. We may expand this family by including children.

Beyond these personal relationships, there is our community, city, state, and country. We might consider our Self to be a member of the “Family of Man,” the human family. We may belong to clubs and organizations. We may be a member of a profession or work at a company. If we feel connected to them, all the groups that we participate in give us a sense of belonging.

Point of Empowerment: As we mature, our sense of belonging becomes deeper and richer, bringing us more fulfillment.

Point of Empowerment: Belonging can give us a feeling of safety and security. It can assure our survival.

Practice: Give some thought to the groups that you belong to. Sense how membership in these groups fulfills your need for belonging.


The family is where our first loving relationships form. Our first bonding, or attachment, is with our mother. All human beings expect to be loved by their mother. It is a “fact of life” that your mother is supposed to love you. The absence of this love feels devastating. A father’s love becomes more and more important as an infant, a toddler, or a child grows. Not having our mother’s and father’s love creates a lifelong longing. The unfulfilled longing for a parent’s love needs to be resolved; otherwise, our ability to love is crippled. In order to give love as an adult, we have to first receive love as a child. We cannot give away something that is not first given to us. We depend on our mother’s and father’s love to start us on the road to loving. Once on the road, there are many opportunities to love and be loved. If we have not experienced a parent’s love, we have the great challenge of finding other sources of love to fulfill our need. This can be a formidable challenge because we will feel unlovable, that no one could love us. If we approach relationships with this belief in mind, we will “be proven right.” We will not find someone to love us.

Point of Empowerment: Without love in our life, we feel empty and lost.

Being loved, receiving love, feels wonderful and is vitally important. However, it is loving, giving love, that is a more profound experience. In loving, we call upon, develop, and use, our Self. We challenge our Self. In loving, our Self becomes more. The more loving we are, the richer our Self is. Love is like a flowing river. We stand in the river and become awash in, surrounded by, love. Filled with love, we give love.

Point of Empowerment: Love can be built on the foundation provided by safety, security, and belonging. It can grow and flourish.

Loving is an activity. There are actions that we can take to love someone. In loving we:

  • Give to our beloved
  • Respond to our beloved
  • Respect our beloved
  • Seek to know who our beloved is
  • Care for and about our beloved
  • Are willing to be intimate
  • Are willing to commit and connect

In taking the actions of love, we are giving gifts to the person we love. As the beloved receives these gifts, he or she can feel loved. In being loved, feeling loved, and receiving the gifts of love, we:

  • Feel safe and secure
  • Experience pleasure
  • Feel trusting
  • Feel cared for
  • Feel known
  • Can allow our Self to be vulnerable
  • Can feel confident in the love, so that we are not afraid of losing it

Learning to love and to be loved is a lifelong task. We have considered some possible approaches to loving, but there are an infinite variety of subtleties to loving and being loved. This makes love a challenge. Deep within us is the knowledge of how rewarding the activity of loving is. This knowledge drives us to keep trying to love—even in the face of failure, rejection, and disappointment— until we succeed, and find the rich rewards we seek.

Practice: Practice the actions of loving until you are a great lover. Enjoy the feelings and the experience of being loved. Deepen your experience with awareness.


What Is Self-Esteem?

There are two components to Self-esteem.

Liking and Valuing Our Self

Having Self-esteem is a need. It is hard to experience our need for Self-esteem because it is so much a part of our life, like the air we breathe. We cannot separate our Self from our Self-esteem. Being unable to separate our Self from it, we have a hard time seeing it objectively. Yet everyone seeks to “feel good about themselves.” This is the phrase that is most often used when a person is refer- ring to his or her Self-esteem. People say, “I feel bad about my Self.” They are experiencing low Self-esteem. Self-esteem is about liking and valuing your Self.

Point of Empowerment: Self-esteem is having a fundamental and deep, good feeling for and about your Self, and also having a deep, positive regard for your Self.

Point of Empowerment: When you feel good about your Self, you are experiencing your goodness. Your goodness is a quality that is innately you.

Knowing and Feeling Your Right to Exist

There are people who have had so little Self-esteem that they have committed suicide. This shows us how necessary Self-esteem is, and how devastating its absence can be. Their thought is, “I have no right to exist.” Self-esteem is connected to our right to exist. It is the knowing, conviction, and certainty that accompanies the statement “I have the right to exist.” Our existence is a fact, but we may not be certain about, and feel, our right to exist. (We will see that our right to exist is given to us by our Self-worth.)

Point of Empowerment: Self-esteem is the knowing, conviction, and certainty of your right to exist.

Our Self-esteem changes from moment to moment, but has a relatively constant level.

Practice: What is your current level of Self-esteem? Take a moment to rate your Self-esteem, on a scale of one to ten. This is an impression of your Self-esteem at this moment.

Permission and Authority: Ability and Willingness to Assert Your Rights

Point of Empowerment: Self-esteem provides an empowerment (permission and authority) to use our power (ability and willingness) to claim, assert, and exercise the rights of our existence.

If we have high Self-esteem, we have lots of authority, as well as permission, ability, and willingness. When we have low Self- esteem, we have little empowerment and little power.

Point of Empowerment: There is strength that comes with Self-esteem.

Practice: See if you can feel the empowerment, power, and strength of your Self-esteem.

Let’s think about some of the rights of our existence. As stated in the United States Declaration of Independence, human beings are given the “inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

  • Life: The right to have our survival needs met. We could add “the right to have the opportunity to meet all our ”
  • Liberty: The right to
  • Pursuit of happiness: The right to pursue, to seek, happi Along with happiness, we could include, “all good things in life.” (We have the right to pursue happiness. We do not have the right to happiness. We are not entitled to happiness. Happiness is up to us to create, for our Self.)

The rights of our existence also include the right to be, do, and have whatever we choose for our Self, as long as we do not infringe on the rights of others.

Practice: Say, “I have the right to exist, and I deserve to assert that right.” Search your feelings. How certain do you feel about this statement? What does this tell you about your level of Self-esteem?

 How Do We Get Self-Esteem?

We give Self-esteem to our Self. We do this through our own evaluation of our behavior, motivations, and attitudes. We evaluate our behavior, motivations, and attitudes according to a set of criteria that we hold. These criteria are made up of our values, ethics, principles, and ideals. (A shorthand version is, “doing the right thing, for the right reason, and feeling good about it.” ) True Self-esteem is given by us to us, by the Self to the Self. It does not come from external sources. If we look for Self-esteem from external sources, often in the form of approval from others, we will never have true, lasting, or meaningful Self-esteem.

Point of Empowerment: Our Self-esteem comes from our own evaluation of our Self. We cannot have Self-esteem based on seeking approval from others.

Practice: Think about how profound this statement is. Also, as we approach Self-esteem in this way, we are truly empowered.

A child is dependent on his parents for Self-esteem. Parents build  a  child’s  Self-esteem  with  love,  acceptance, guidance, appropriate praise, and accurate feedback. Children need kind but accurate, objective, and constructive criticism. False praise, inaccurate feedback, and a lack of constructive criticism create   a false Self-esteem that is shaky and crumbles easily. Brutal or constant criticism destroys a child’s Self-esteem.

In addition, in order to have good Self-esteem, we need to have a healthy conscience. If our conscience is constantly “beating us up,” we cannot have Self-esteem. If our conscience is harsh and filled with unrealistic and perfectionistic expectations and standards, we will not know how to evaluate our actions, motivations, and attitudes appropriately. We will not create Self-esteem for our Self. A dysfunctional conscience will destroy your Self-esteem. (Self-esteem can actually be a component of a healthy conscience.)

Point of Empowerment: To have good Self-esteem, we need to have a healthy conscience.

Practice: Read the chapter of The Operating Manual for the Self on conscience.

Children evaluate themselves with their parents’ ideas about what they should or shouldn’t feel good about. Adults take responsibility for their own Self-esteem. As a person enters adulthood, she needs to develop her own ideas about which behavior, motivations, and attitudes she can feel good about. Without one’s own ideas, one cannot evaluate her Self. Developing and having one’s own values, ethics, principles, and ideals is part of the process of maturing and developing autonomy.2

2. Autonomy: being a separate and unique Being in charge of one’s life. Having and exercising freedom of choice.

Point of Empowerment: In order to have true Self-esteem, the adult needs to attain a  healthy level of maturity    and autonomy. Otherwise he remains a child, dependent on the approval of others for his Self-esteem—a Self-esteem that is temporary and unsatisfying.


Related to Self-esteem is Self-worth. Self-esteem and Self-worth are different. We have many misconceptions about what Self-worth is. We think that we have to earn Self-worth through good deeds and accomplishments. We have the phrase “our ‘net worth,’” or how much money we have. Is our Self-worth related to how much money we have?

Our Self-worth comes to us by the simple fact of our existence as human beings. Human beings are born with, and have innate, worth. The word innate means “inseparable from.” Our worth is inseparable from our existence. Additionally, our existence itself, and our worth, generate the automatic right to exist. Also, if it is your belief, you could say, “God made me. God does not make anything that is worthless. Therefore, I am worthy.” Worth is given, and is not related to any of our behavior. It is important to understand where our Self-worth comes from.

Point of Empowerment: Self-esteem is earned. Self-worth is given.

Practice: Realize that you have Self-worth by virtue of being human. Claim that worth by stating the affirmation, “No matter what I do, I am worthy.”

Point of Empowerment: Our existence itself, and our worth, generate the automatic right to our existence.

You may ask, “How can I be worthy if I behave in destructive ways?” The paradox is, if you see and experience your worth, you will not behave in destructive ways.3 If you behave in destructive ways, you will have difficulty discovering and experiencing your worth.

How do we know if we have low Self-worth? We frequently associate deserving with Self-worth. The thought or feeling of  “I do not deserve” is a clue to low Self-worth. We can also directly experience our feelings of low Self-worth, of worthlessness. Sometimes feelings of apathy and low motivation are an indication of low Self-worth. “I should, but I don’t care” sometimes means, “I should, but I’m not worth it.” Along with Self-esteem, we need to know and feel our Self-worth. Otherwise, we can never fully enjoy our life.

To Produce, to Create, to Know

To Produce

We want to feel productive. This is our need to produce. It is often expressed as our need and desire to work. We want to feel useful. For many people, feeling useless, not having anything to contribute to a situation, can feel very frustrating and painful. The desire to produce leads to accomplishing and achieving.

Accomplishing is completing a task or a goal. Feeling a sense of accomplishment can be very rewarding. As we accomplish several tasks that go together, we achieve something. Achieving involves developing our abilities, strengths, and talents. It  is   a rich and deep experience. Achieving enriches and develops our Self.

Point of Empowerment: As we fulfill our need to produce, accomplishing enriches our life.

  • Along with this is the paradox, “If I truly love myself, I will not behave in selfish or narcissistic ”

Practice: What are some of your accomplishments? Have you acknowledged them for your Self?

Excessive Pressure to Accomplish

At times we overemphasize accomplishing. It can become an obsession, always on our minds, or a compulsion: “I have to spend my time accomplishing this task or goal.” We can’t relax. We put too much pressure on children to produce accomplishments. This creates stress and anxiety for children. Excessive pressure to succeed through accomplishing can create stress and anxiety for adults as well. It can lead to “burnout,” to being depressed and without motivation. In placing too much importance on accomplishing, we invest too much of our Self into it, and neglect other important aspects of our life.

To Create

Our need to create is expressed in many ways. Artists, musicians, dancers, actors, photographers, writers, and composers are clearly seeking to express their creativity through their work. Yet everyone is creative, and creates in some way. Whenever we respond to a new situation, a situation that we haven’t encountered before, we create something new for our Self.

Some examples of being creative are:

  • A conversation where we communicate our
  • Working out a conflict with another
  • Finding “win-win” solutions, where differing points of view combine to find a creative solution to a
  • Finding a new, alternative route to avoid (“The road less traveled.”)
  • Seeking to be understood in a heated discussion with a family
  • Cooking a new meal. Decorating your
  • As a parent, finding a new way to discipline a child because the old way isn’t
  • Planning a new way of celebrating a birthday, holiday, or
  • Solving any kind of new problem. The problem can be as mundane as fitting extra dishes in a seemingly full dishwasher, and as lofty as finding a cure for a
  • Dreaming, fantasizing, and
  • Finding a way to fit two pipes together, as plumbers do, when the circumstance is very
  • Adapting to
  • Initiating

The list is endless. These examples show how creativity is expressed by a wide range of activities, from mundane, simple, common activities, to activities that are complex and demanding.

Point of Empowerment: Each day, we are creative in some way.

Practice: Take some time to think about the ways in which you are creative. Think about new ways that you could express your creativity.

 To know

Our need to know is usually experienced as a desire or drive to understand. This desire or drive can be very intense. Knowing and understanding are the first steps toward effective action. They are necessary for us to succeed.

Our drive to understand can be motivated by other needs. For example, people want to understand other people. Knowing and understanding other people helps us feel connected to them, fulfilling our needs for belonging and loving.

A common complaint is that we are not understood. We want to be understood, but in a deeper way, we want to be known.  We want to be known from the depths of our soul, for who we truly are. To  be known is to be loved. In a marriage, the desire  to be known by a spouse is very strong. Children, no matter how old they are, want to be known by their parents. There can be a lot of pain in the feeling of not being known. A person can feel invisible, that he or she doesn’t matter.

When there is difficulty in a relationship, we seek to resolve the problem through understanding. We want to understand the other person’s motivation, why he or she behaves in a certain way. At times, we think that knowing a person’s motivation allows us to control him or her, and to control the relationship. Through control, we are trying to protect our Self, to feel safe and secure. We sometimes experience anger, fear, or panic when we do not understand another person. We feel threatened. We don’t feel safe or secure.

Over a lifetime of experiences, knowing develops into wisdom. We eventually have a deep understanding of what life is all about, and of what works and what doesn’t work, in fulfilling our needs.

Point of Empowerment: Effective living begins with knowing and understanding. Ultimately our knowing gives us mastery of our world. Eventually our knowing can become wisdom.

Practice: Cultivate your knowing.


Actualization of Parts

As we have been discussing, the Self is a complex entity with many parts. Each part (the ego, developmental self,  personality, conscience, image/identity, and sub-parts) wants to be actualized. That is, it wants:

  • To be utilized
  • To be active
  • To express itself
  • To have its voice be heard
  • To participate in the living of our life
  • To grow, develop, mature, and evolve
  • To have an impact on both our inner world and our outer world

Actualizing Potential: Ability, Strength, and Talent

Human beings are full of potential. We want all that potential to be actualized. We want it to move from being potential to being an active, real participant in our lives. We have a need, a drive, to utilize our potential.

We can get immense pleasure out of mastering a new skill. For example, we can see the determination and joy of a toddler as he or she learns to walk. This is the joy that is present when we master a skill. We are actualizing a part of our Self, using and developing our abilities.

Everyone has strengths and talents. We may literally experience an ache that drives us to make use of them. Using and developing our strengths and talents can bring us joy. However, we can miss this joy if we use our talents to over accomplish, or, if we become overly competitive, by excessively investing our Self into winning some imaginary contest.

Point of Empowerment: Whatever we accomplish, using our strengths and talents will bring us  satisfaction.

Practice: Think about an accomplishment where you used your strengths or talents. Feel the satisfaction that is  there.

Seeking Wholeness

We seek the wholeness of our Self. As we identify, use, develop, and therefore experience all the parts of our Self, we feel more and more whole. Until we have achieved the experience of wholeness, we feel incomplete. We search for completeness.

We feel a specific kind of loneliness and longing. The longing is to know all of our Self. The loneliness is the pain that leads   us to search for our Self. Yes, we need to have relationships with people. When this is missing, we feel lonely. But there is a certain kind of loneliness that is misinterpreted. We think that this feel- ing means we should search for another human being. What it actually means is that we should search for our  Self.

Sometimes we try to establish this completeness through others, specifically a romantic partner of the opposite sex who has characteristics that we unconsciously seek for our Self. (Same-sex partners function in similar ways, having characteristics we want for our Self.) For example, generally speaking, men take action, using will. Women allow and receive. So men seek the receptive- ness of women. Women seek the willful action of men. Both are necessary for completeness, wholeness.

Another aspect of seeking wholeness is that we put our Self into situations so as to experience aspects of our Self. Here are examples of this.

  • I want to experience myself as loving, so I establish loving
  • I want to experience my Self as knowledgeable, so I learn everything I can about a topic and teach others.
  • I want to experience my Self as angry, so I look for situations that trigger my
  • I want to experience my Self as sad, so I look for situations that trigger my

Point of Empowerment: Life affords us opportunities, and we create opportunities, to experience all the parts of our Self.

Practice: Give some thought as to the ways you seek to experience aspects of your Self.

The Distorted, Damaged, and Lost Self

The drive for Self-actualization and the desire for wholeness drive us to:

  • Correct the distorted Self. These are parts of the Self that function, but not to their full potential, because we do not understand how to use these parts and their abilities. We lack information and
  • Repair the damaged These are parts of the Self that still function, but not to their full potential, because they have been damaged by attacks. These attacks have also hurt and wounded us. Our wounds need healing.
  • Search for and recover the lost Self. These are parts of the Self that do not We have banished them from our awareness because they got us into trouble when they made their presence known. We got punished for using their abilities. They are stored in our unconscious. We need to make them conscious and learn to utilize them.4

Point of Empowerment: As we seek to actualize our Self, life becomes an exciting adventure, full of discoveries.

Practice: Commit yourself to actualizing your Self. Identify and take on challenges that will lead you to that actualization. In addition, be aware of the distorted, damaged,  and lost Self. Seek to clarify, repair, and recover these parts of your Self as you search for wholeness and  completion.

 Beauty, Mystery, Transcendence

We have a need, a drive, to experience beauty, mystery, and transcendence.


Beauty deeply nourishes our sense of well-being, bringing us happiness, joy, and inspiration. Beauty connects us to deep parts of our Self. There is the beauty of art, of nature, of landscapes, of women, of men, of children, of babies, of dance, of laughter, of tears. Almost anywhere you look there is beauty. In seeing and experiencing beauty you can bring pleasure into your life.


Mystery comes in many varieties and forms. It intrigues us and captures our attention. It challenges us and surprises us. It stimulates us. Where do we find mystery? In the unknown. In adventures into the unknown. In exploring the unknown. In things that we can’t figure out. In puzzles. In scientific exploration. In  mystery

stories. In the future.

Some people are so drawn to mystery and the unknown that they risk their lives to explore and experience it. And, some have lost their lives seeking it.


Pursuing transcendence is the pursuit of life beyond the boundaries of the Self. We seek to know and to experience transcendence. The experience of transcendence takes us from where we are now, to another place. It can be a momentary experience that passes   by almost unnoticed. Or, it can be an experience that is so profound, it changes us forever.

Seeking to know and to experience The Divine/God is an expression of the need for transcendence. We need to know that there is something greater than our Self. As we sense our own limitations, we know that we need support, inspiration, and love from a source greater than our Self.

We seek to experience transcendent states of consciousness. Human beings have always, for thousands of years, sought non- ordinary states of consciousness. Meditation, prayer, music, art, the exhilaration of physical activity, and using substances of all kinds are some of the ways that we reach for transcendence. We want to go beyond the limited parts of the Self, the ego, and the small self. Everyone seeks this in one form or  another.

Point of Empowerment: Beauty, mystery, and transcendence enrich our life in beautiful, mysterious, and transcendent ways.

Practice: Seek beauty, mystery, and transcendence