Humanistic theory of motivation is primarily based on a sense that humans have strong cognitive reasons to carry out various actions.
Once the lower end of basic needs have been met, the main motivator turns into having a strong need for self actualization, or the desire to fulfill our purpose in life.
So…What is the humanistic theory and what does all of this mean?
In humanistic psychology, it stresses upon the fact that people have free will and they play an active role in determining how they behave.
Also, humanistic psychology focuses on subjective experiences of humans as opposed to forced, definitive factors that determine behavior.
Humanistic psychologists try to view people’s lives as those people would view through their own eyes. They tend to have more of a positive perspective on human nature.
Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, was a big proponent of this view and became well known for his humanistic theories.
What are the key concepts of humanistic theory and how can they benefit you?
One of the biggest concepts of humanistic theory are: The Self and Congruence
Humanists believed that the primary aim of human beings was to get to a state of congruence.
This happens when the actual self becomes the same as the ‘ideal self’.
They believed in the ongoing pursuit of self-knowledge and self-improvement in order to achieve this state.
All people are thought to have inherent worth solely by just being human.
A person’s actions may be positive or negative, but it doesn’t affect his/her worth.
The other foundational concept is Free Will.
People that believe in free will, believe that humans have the power to choose how they live their lives free of any outside forces making them choose.
Humanists believe that this ability resides inside of everyone and they are free to exercise it at any time.
Instead of believing that things such as behavioral conditioning or animalistic drives determine our choices, humanists believe that we naturally want to choose the positive path and will do so freely.
The Maslow Theory of Motivation and how it can help us with personal growth…
Maslow had spent a lot of his time studying “self-actualizing persons”, which are those who are “fulfilling themselves and doing the best that they are capable of”.
He highly believed that everyone who was interested in growth progressed towards self-actualization (growth, satisfaction, happiness) views.
Many of these types of people show a trend in the dimensions of their personalities. According to Maslow, the characteristics of these self-actualizers have four key dimensions.
- Awareness. Neverending enjoyment and awe of life. Individuals in this dimension often experienced a ‘peak experience’. A peak experience happens when an individual has feelings of ecstasy, harmony, and deep meaning. An example of a peak experience could be running a marathon for the first time.
- Socially compassionate. These people possess humanity.
- Rely on their own experiences and judgement. They are very independent, and do not rely on influence from the culture and environment in order to form opinions and views.
- Few friends. They have a very close, intimate circle of friends as opposed to many superficial relationships.
Maslow emphasized a view of the person as a creative, active, experiencing human who lives in the present and responds to current perceptions, relationships and encounters.
He views humanistic theories as optimistic and positive proposals, which brings out the tendency of personality toward growth and self-actualization.
This progressing self will always stay at the center of its ever changing world; a world that will help shape the self, but not necessarily confine it.
What this means is that you have a great opportunity for your higher self to continually mature based on what it encounters in this world.
All of us have our own idea of what motivates us to wake up every morning and chase our dreams and goals.
The constant desire for fulfillment and personal growth is a key motivator of all human behavior.
We are always looking for new ways to grow, to become better, to learn new things, and to experience psychological growth and self-actualization.
The biggest takeaways to pursue your own actualization and fulfillment would be to:
- Discover what your strengths are
- Create a vision for what you’d like to achieve
- Take into account your own beliefs and values
- Go after experiences that bring you joy and helps to develop your skills
- Learn to accept yourself and others without judgement
- Focus on enjoying experiences rather than just hitting your goals
- Never stop learning new things
- Pursue things that you are passionate about
- Always be optimistic and keep a positive attitude
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