Self-esteem and Self-actualization

If you are psychology or management student, self-esteem and self-actualization are both something that you had heard of. These two terms appears in Maslow’s Hierarchical of needs, a theory of motivation. Basically it talks about people, motivation to achieve certain things and that some needs take precedence over others. At the bottom of the pyramid, there is the basic human need such as; food, water, air. At the second layer, there is the safety needs, security and society and third layer represent the needs of friendship and love. Lastly, the last two layers of the pyramid are the needs of self esteem and self actualization.

Self esteem is defined as a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. In more simple word, it is the feel of ‘feeling good about yourself’ or ‘feeling bad about yourself’. The guy who come up with this concept, Abraham Maslow, divide self-esteem into two form, the need of respect from others in the form of recognition, success, and admiration; and the need of self-respect in the form of self-love, self-confidence, skill or aptitude. The first form of self-esteem is more fragile compared to the latter.

There is no problem with human being trying to get respect or admiration from other people. However, most of the time, people try so hard to impress others that they eventually harm themselves. My favorite classic example is  try dress good to impress friends. This something that we can find in our everyday lives. We have seen many people buy expensive clothes and take the risk to go broke, so that our friend can see we buy a branded-expensive-trendy-piece-of -garment. Another example, which also my favorite, is going broke try to buy new cars.

You may ask what is my problem with that..

My problem is that I cannot stand with this weirdness or (excuse me: stupidity) because once you don’t have enough resources to ‘buy respect from others’, you will get strike by low-self esteem and eventually it can lead to depression. People don’t realize that what is more important is self-respect or self-love, which is the latter form of self-esteem. A person with high degree of self-respect (which also self-esteem) will have more confidence and will not swayed by other people opinions about himself. In business, a manager with high self-esteem will take himself to make the best decision for the business even it is an unpopular option. See the importance now.

After the self-esteem need being fulfilled, a person can then pursue his self actualization, which is the realization of one’s talent. I have seen the example of this type of people. They don’t wear fancy or trendy clothes but they always in constant training to develop themselves. To pursue something about their talents. They trying hard to achieve it and not bother about what people say.


I believe that humans are in constant engagement in fulfilling between this two needs. Maybe at one point we have achieved our self-esteem and pursuing our self-actualization, then at some point we turned upside down and lose our esteem. Then, we start again with pursuing the self-esteem. I hope you can understand what actually drives yourself when you are buying new clothes to coup with latest trend. I want you to know what is more important for yourself.

If you are interested more about self-actualization, click here.

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