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Difference between Self Actualization and Self Realization

Difference between Self Actualization and Self Realization

Self-actualization and self-realization are both important concepts in psychology, but they have different meanings. Self-actualization is the process of realizing one’s own potential, while self realization is the understanding that everything is connected. Both concepts are important for personal growth, but they have different implications for how we live our lives.

What is Self Actualization?

  • Self-actualization is a term that was first used by psychologist Abraham Maslow in his hierarchy of needs theory. Maslow believed that self-actualization was the highest level of human need and represented the desire to fulfill one’s potential.
  • He suggested that only a small proportion of people ever reach this level, as it requires a high level of self-awareness and motivation. In order to self-actualize, Maslow believed that people need to have all of their lower-level needs met.
  • Once these needs are met, individuals can focus on personal growth and development. Some characteristics of self-actualized people include a sense of detachment, creativity, spontaneity, and acceptance of themselves and others. Though Maslow’s theory has been widely criticized, the concept of self-actualization remains an important ideal for many people.

What is Self Realization?

  • Self-realization is the achievement of a greater understanding of one’s true self. It is often thought of as a personal journey or process of discovery, during which an individual comes to know their own nature and purpose.
  • For many, self-realization is an ongoing process that happens throughout life, as they learn and grow. While there is no singular path to self-realization, there are various techniques and practices that can support an individual in their journey.
  • These may include meditation, journaling, yoga, and mindfulness. Ultimately, self-realization is about connecting with one’s innermost being and coming to understand the role one plays in the world. When we realize our own true nature, we can begin to live in alignment with our highest potential.

Difference between Self Actualization and Self Realization

Though both self-actualization and self-realization are important steps on the journey to finding fulfillment, they are two distinct concepts. Self-actualization refers to the process of becoming aware of and developing one’s fullest potential. This can be a lifelong process, as we continue to grow and change throughout our lives. In contrast, self-realization is a moment of radical acceptance and clarity, in which we see ourselves for who we truly are. This can be a life-changing experience, but it is only the beginning of the journey. After realizing our true selves, we must then work to actualize our potential. Only then can we hope to achieve true fulfillment.


Self Actualization is a term first introduced by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. He described it as the ultimate psychological need that arises after basic needs like food, water, and sleep are met and self-esteem is achieved. The key to understanding self-actualization is recognizing that humans have an innate desire to grow and develop their potential.

This growth can be seen in different ways depending on the individual, but ultimately it leads to a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Self-realization is a term most often used in Eastern philosophy, specifically within Hinduism and Buddhism. It refers to the experience of knowing one’s true nature or essence.

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