I was listening to a video by an author where he defined 'self-actualization' in terms of ego or selfish individualism - a type of narcissism. This goes to show the limitations of language and how meaning can be confused. The 'self' in self-actualization, in my mind, is just the opposite. It is the freedom from the mental constructs of the ego-self. And it's an ancient concept.

It is the awareness that there is a 'core' you that is beyond the labels and judgments of the autobiographical memory of the brain's cellular memory that forms the ego - in neuroscience terminology. Self-actualization is another way of saying enlightenment. It is the real-you Self. It reaches beyond the social conditioning that says, "You are only this or that," or, "You cannot be, do, or have this or that" - just because society holds you in an itty-bitty box of judgment.

Self-actualization is about recognizing more and more who you really are and hopefully accessing more of your true potential. It is freeing your mind from the limitations that create distraction, disease, and dysfunction. Just to be clear, my definition of self-actualization leads a person to be more collaborative with others, not more selfish.

When we self-actualize, we grow. We see new visions and opportunities for a more, not less, cooperative world. We love our self so we can love others more, not less. Truth is, most people don't love themselves, which is why there is so much inner turmoil, such as depression, stress, self-esteem, and confidence problems. It's also why there's so much relationship conflict. Inner harmony - self-love and acceptance - leads to more, not less, harmony with others. This is distinctly different from ego selfishness.

You can't hate or reject yourself and have inner peace - that's an oxymoron. When we self-actualize, we begin to realize that we are more than the mental construct thought of the ego self. Ego is not bad. It just needs to be evolved and old behaviors forgiven and upgraded. It is a way for us to develop compassion and learn more about life as a human being. EGO is an Enormous Growth Opportunity. It is simply the persona, the personality, of the role you are playing on the stage of life. It is 'who you think you are', typically.

It is just not the real you. Self-awareness is about recognizing this truth. Just remember to choose your roles wisely and realize that you are able to change stages and take on a new role when you are clear, present, and intentional.

This is especially true as you learn how to optimally operate your amazing brain instead of letting it continuously be hijacked by one distraction after another. Life is full of choice. Choose more happiness, achieve greater performance excellence, and seek to know who you really are so that you can live with greater purpose and make a positive difference. Self-actualize.

Author's Bio: 

Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle – with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.

For more information and to contact her regarding dynamic, inspirational keynotes, trainings in collaborative leadership and team building, entrepreneurship and coaching programs, visit her website at http://www.ValenciaRay.com.