Self-Actualization vs Fulfillment: Maximizing Potential

Person on top of mountain with arms stretched in victory pose.

I was recently prompted with a few questions regarding Self-Actualization. This is a concept of realizing one’s potential. It is related to Fulfillment in a few ways, which I’ll discuss below. Let’s explore these ideas!

What are some attributes of a lifelong learner? What are some ways you can be a lifelong learner?

  • Curiosity and Exploration. Selfless. Self-objective (view self nakedly). So interested in improving that willing to encourage negative feedback from others so you can gain that valuable other perspective.
  • Explore. Reflect on experiences, both positive and negative. Avoid labeling sensations or objects, be the awareness (open mind, not closed off/resisting).

Why is “realizing your potential” different for each person? What are some ways it can vary? Provide examples.

  • Because everyone perceives reality differently given their past experiences. Each experience is from a unique POV and contributes to the development of the filter through which they view the world.
  • Someone who has a mother who died slowly and painfully due to Dementia may have a strong passion for researching a cure and investing lots of money in organizations to find a cure.
  • …. Every new experience is viewed through your own filter, each new experience contributes to the development of that filter (initial conditions, i.e. childhood or earlier on in a relationship, have a much larger impact and thus influences the filter’s development far more).

What might be some barriers that prevent people from realizing their potential?

  • Incongruence. Societal pressures and a series of past experiences (likely from childhood) that leads them to think their “natural” behavior is not acceptable and thus decades upon decades of living out of alignment with themselves and nature has led to dysfunction and a disconnect from what they truly want. So many layers of problems have been added that the true unsatisfied desire is masked by eating disorders and other higher level manifestations of a much deeper void.

What are some things you can do to move closer to realizing your potential?

  • Explore and have an open mind. Seek out adversity and develop the ability to face it with a blank stare, non-judgmental, and a strong ability to remain level headed. This eliminates the barrier of “getting in one’s own way”. In a word, discipline.

To you, what does fulfillment look like?

  • Evolving the species forward. Living in alignment with nature. Understanding one’s biology and psychology to act in accordance w/ principles of nature while living a life of exploring what those principles are, challenging assumptions and never assuming.
Man ripping shirt like Superman but revealing a universe within him suggesting Self-Actualization.
What are you capable of?

Self-actualization is broader and more robust than fulfillment. What does this mean? Why is this the case?

  • Fulfillment is satisfying a craving.
  • Self-actualization is satisfying the deeper underlying void.
  • Fulfillment is chewing ice to satisfy a craving, self-actualization is realizing you may have an iron deficiency and addressing the root cause.

If you were a self-actualized person, what does it mean to

  • be more likely to deal with reality?
    • You’re in touch with your authentic self, there is no layers of disorders and dysfunctions that obscure the underlying root problem. Therefore you see reality with more clarity, there is no story to satisfy a fantasy or mask hidden fears (and no need for a story).
  • face the unknown?
    • Explore.
  • … creatively solve problems?
    • Express your authentic self, the unique perspective that your experiences have formed, to illustrate a representation of your filter when a particular object or task is given its attention. I.e. the ability to articulate the output of your unique filter.
  • … help others succeed?
    • Listen, not give advice, which is just you imposing your filter/world-view onto someone else who has a very different filter (i.e. series of past experiences) and thus unlikely for such advice to truly be what they need. Others “succeeding” is often simply the other individual realizing what it is that they want and realizing they are capable of achieving it. All that is usually needed is to listen actively and ask thought provoking questions, not to flex your ego and satisfy a dysfunctional need to “feel special”

Where do you think you are personally on the journey to self-actualization? 

  • There is no destination, just as the universe is infinite so is the journey. Any such “destination” would be a human made construct, another story, which

What steps are you taking to further yourself on that journey?

  • Exploring sensation. Voluntarily diving into discomfort with a wide-eye for exploration and a desire for adversity, which is the friction necessary for growth.
    • And then REFLECT on past experiences, integrate them into your sense of self.
  • Give yourself permission to feel the sensations that come up, no judgement or thinking “this shouldn’t’ be”. Seeing every moment of life as an opportunity to enjoy the full spectrum of experience. Exploring the extremes of sensation, knowing that that is how the principles of any system is discovered.
  • Seeing my existence as a servant to the Universe, my life isn’t my own, I am a part of something larger.
    • Whether I experience positive or negative sensations is beside the point, labeling them and judging them is silly given this bigger picture.
      • This isn’t to say I always act in accordance to this, a quick switch of a mental state and the world can reduce down to a single tunnel, a car crash away from thinking nothing is more important than getting out of the immediate danger and resolving outstanding issues.
      • But you learn this, deeply, as a result of seeking out adversity over and over and going through these experiences of doubting yourself and THEN REFLECTING. After a while you learn that all sensation is just a wave, that there is always a different perspective to view any and all situations, that you’re a gunshot away from being a fundamentally different mental state and viewing the world entirely different.
      • A deep understanding of this, through repeatedly seeking out adversity, is how you develop the ability to remain level-headed amongst tough situations. You don’t get tougher by doing what’s easy, and a level head during chaos requires mental toughness.

From follow-up discussions, I found the below to be very interesting points:

  • Self-Actualization is focus on community, whereas Fulfillment is a focus on the individual.
  • Milestones in growth involve a shift from a concentration on self to a concentration on the unity of all things.
    • The process: ME focus -> US focus (others and self) -> WE focus (we are one and the same, devotion to being of service).
    • This process follows many “Creation Stories” (e.g. Adam/Eve) and is analogous to the evolution of consciousness.
      • Awareness (i.e. higher levels of consciousness) requires a period of internal searching, a curiosity of one’s own experience.
        • The brain biases towards its own survival, so without this obvious benefit, the brain will be unlikely to devote vital resources in its exploration.
      • This awareness naturally leads to the “need to feel special”, a me-me-me approach.
    • Even more interesting, is this evolution can be seen not just on the spectrum of humanity’s existence, but also on that of an individual’s.
      • Some humans are further along this evolution than others, some may never even experience higher levels of awareness and remain on a lower frequency. Adversity and proper reflection is the key ingredient to effective evolution of consciousness.
    • More and more you realize that you’re a piece to a larger puzzle. More and more the brain realizes that for its survival it is more than just caring for the physical body, but that the body itself is connected to everything. We are all made of space dust.
  • Fulfillment is an inevitable roadblock that one must trip over regularly to realize that it’s the wrong approach/focus.
    • I.e. addressing the symptoms over and over and still getting that short-term satisfaction but realizing that it doesn’t last.
    • Fulfillment is inevitable because it is so tangible and the rewards are immediate, like chewing ice to fix a craving that represents an underlying desire for iron (i.e. such a craving for ice may be caused by an iron deficiency).
      • Chewing the ice satisfies the craving.
        • This satisfaction, regardless of addressing root-cause, is what fulfillment is about.
        • Self-Actualization is a deeper idea that is about addressing the underlying root-cause.
      • It is natural, and even smart, to go for the solution that seems to work. But real intelligence and wisdom shows in learning that this satisfaction is short-lived and that a more strategic and thoughtful approach is needed.

Closing Words

  • Contact Me HERE for collaboration on prompts. We can come up with questions and each create our own post on our answers. Then create a post for the other person that shows our reaction to the other’s responses.
  • I want to hear from YOU. What are your thoughts on Self-Actualization and Fulfillment. Are these even worth thinking about? Share in the comments section below!


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5 thoughts on “Self-Actualization vs Fulfillment: Maximizing Potential

  1. Hi Brandon,
    I like that you are willing to put yourself into uncomfortable situations and purposely give yourself adversity. I am not willing to do that. I signed up for a desert warriors race two years ago, but when it got a bit hard, I walked off the course. What I realized about myself is that I want to do cool stuff, but I don’t want it to be hard. 🙂 I respect that you are able to make things hard for yourself and persevere. You mentioned the idea of listening to others who have different perspectives. I am in the process of publishing a book on that topic. Do you often listen to people who have different worldviews than your own? Do you listen and learn from others as much as you share advice? Just curious. Thanks!

    1. Hi Rebekah!

      Thank you for your kind words. I have my own insecurities, for example perhaps I, for whatever reason, believe the way I get love or respect is by abusing myself. Or maybe I engage in such hardships due to insecurities or fear of what would happen if I wasn’t toughened up. Perhaps it all stems from childhood emotional and physical trauma.

      Point is, we all have different experiences that lead to different interpretations and actions. That’s why I don’t consider lifestyles or mindsets, such as your own or others, in any negative light. To assume one way of life is better than another is to assume your experience of life is deterministic, but we all are limited by only a single instance of consciousness. A sample size of 1 is almost guaranteed to lead to wrong assumptions.

      I’ve seen you around my blog several times now, I appreciate your support. Writers such as yourself who engage always encourages me to do more.

      I’m interested in hearing more about your book. If you want to talk about an example of how we all have our challenges, I started writing a book of my own, got it all written, then started editting it and couldn’t decide on how I wanted to structure it and realized how strong my self-critiqeing is. I ended up putting that to the side and focusing on other priorities.
      I would love to hear what the publishing process is like from your perspective, I’ve done some research into it.

      As far as exposure to other worldviews, I like to believe I do. In fact, most all that I write about is a result of an interpretation (or a series of interpretations) of other people’s teachings and mindsets.

      I personally love the YouTube channel by Tom Biluyue where he hosts a show called “Insight Theory” and “Health Theory” interviewing absolutely brilliant minds.

      If you saw my YouTube watch history, you’d also find a lot of diverse interviews and perspectives.

      I consider myself open minded, perhaps too much, as I find it difficult to form my own opinion and often doubt myself until an external source validates the thought.
      This has been a big focus of mine to improve over the past year, especially as it relates to rapid/effective learning.

      Questions like these get me thinking deeply and serve as a great source of reflection, so thank you for that, Rebekah.
      By the way, I love the unique spelling of your name!

  2. Hi Brandon!
    Thank you very much for sharing so much of your authentic self in your response. I appreciate hearing about how your past may have contributed to who you are today. Congratulations on writing a book! That’s great. I’m sorry to hear that you got stuck on editing. If you want to get back to it, I would be happy to help you along. You asked about the editing process: I had friends and family help with editing, and I also hired an editor on fiverr. Brandon, I would be happy to look at what you’ve got and give you some advice about structure so that you can get going with your book again. Don’t be intimidated by the editing and publishing. It really isn’t as hard or expensive as I thought it would be. I’m happy to walk you through the process. My book will be launched on November 17th. You can look at the website to learn more:
    Btw, I know you told us how to fix the “like” feature, but I’m not very tech savvy, so I still can’t “like” your posts or comments. Just wanted you to know why it isn’t liked. I’ll try to get my husband to fix it later. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Rebekah.

      The book is around 100k words in length, so the thing I need to work on is deciding what my core message is and keeping the book and chapters central to that.
      I’ll come back to it, but my recent life lessons have also changed my perspective on a few things regarding its content.

      Hmm, freelance editors, I like that idea. Friends and family, of course! Just that sentence alone made me realize how many options I have, that I don’t need to go at it alone.

      When I get back to it (probably will be early to mid next year), I’ll organize what I’ve got and consider sharing it with you. I’d love the feedback, this is something that I’m very passionate about.

      That release date is really close! I’ve signed up for updates on your book, I love the sounds of it. I’d probably get it just to study your writing style, that’s been a focus of mine recently. Authors like Jordan Peterson have been great teachers in that regard.

      Ah, I see the “like” button stuck on loading. Hmm I don’t think it’s you, I’ve tried it across devices and browsers. I’ll take a look again, thank you for letting me know (:
      I’m excited for when I move away from WordPress managing my site, having more control over the source code will help. Turning on/off plugins and themes is a hit or miss.

      Thanks for your support, Rebekah, it means the world 😄
      I’ll stay in touch!

  3. Hi Brandon! Wow! 100,000 words! It sounds like you have more than one book there. Yes, I’d be happy to look at it next year or whenever you feel it is ready. Thanks for signing up for book updates on my website. I’ll be in touch!

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