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15 Tips to Living a Self Actualising Life

“No one can drive us crazy unless we give them the keys.

Douglas Horton

Hey, Jay here from The Coaching Room, thanks for checking out my 15 tips on how to live a self-actualised life.

Self-Actualisation is a fancy phrase coined by Abraham Maslow to describe a human being who is actualising their potential in any given moment in any given context. Maslow was quoted as saying, “self actualisation is simply ordinary people doing extraordinary things”.

Fast forward 50 years, and we now understand that to unleash your potentials in any context, and live a self-actualising life, you have to unleash your responsibility powers.  And no one or no-thing can give you this.  It’s an inside job!

Potential is a choice, which then requires action. Self-actualisation is that simple, and profound, as we’ll see…


Following are my 15 tips for living a Self Actualising life

1. It depends on the meanings you construct!

This may come as a surprise to some, that meaning is also an inside job.

Meaning is a construct of mind, constructed by you. It’s a frame about reality that governs and guides your experience of reality (people, events, situations, outcomes). There is no meaning “out there” in reality, only “in here” about reality.

So the quality of your meanings is the quality of your life.

So how do you make meaning? You are making it all the time. Beliefs are meanings, values are meanings, identity is meaning, everything you do or don’t do is based on meaning – but whose meaning? Most meanings were given to you, they were hard coded when you learned how to listen and speak. From those meanings, you made more – like a mad person gone wild. Now these meanings are running your experience. The question is, “Is it time for you to run them?”

To run your meanings how you choose to is take ownership of your 4 innate powers. We call this the power zone.

2.  Living for yourself  – the power zone – your 4 powers introduced.

What are your innate powers?  They are your powers of mind, emotion, communication and behaviour. 

They are your mental powers for thinking, believing, framing, evaluating, imagining, remembering, and much, much more. 

They are your emotional powers to “move” yourself “out” (ex-motion) from your current state to a desired state, to feel and develop your emotional intelligence (EQ) and live through the expression of love, joy, peace and passion.

They are your linguistic powers of speech, which enables you to inquire to communicate and understand ideas and thoughts; to explore to learn, invite in and set boundaries to keep out, to tell stories, make music, write books, etc. 

They are your behavioural powers to gesture, take action, plan, create, practice, persist, bounce back (be resilient), etc.

Living for yourself means owning your 4 powers.

3. Responsibility for, and ownership of, your 4 powers leads you back to the present moment, where your potential exists!


Potential is a present oriented phenomena. Most people I coach presuppose that their potential is somewhere out there – in the future. Well if you believe that, I have some bad news. The future doesn’t exist (except in mind). “Future” is exclusively a construct of the human mind. There I said it, the cat is out of the bag.

Your potential only exists now, in this moment, in whatever it is you are doing, NOW.

Taking responsibility means taking ownership of your 4 powers; “My thinking, my feelings, my actions, my communicating”.

By owning your responses, you can begin to feel your innate powers intimately. You can own your responses (rather than reacting to reality). This is where influence is created. Influence is a product of ownership of your 4 powers.


4. Responsibility to/for distinction


In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), we hold the responsibility to/for distinction top of mind. The distinction speaks to the difference between responsibility for something (out there) and responsibility to something (out there).

The key difference in the distinction is what you CAN be responsible for (your 4-powers). Everything else is what you and I are responsible TO (events, situations, people, outcomes, results etc.).

You and I cannot be responsible FOR anything outside your 4-powers!

5. Take ownership of Your Thinking Powers

Each of us can think, we can inquire, explore, read, review and process information, imagine, and talk to ourselves in mind. This is known in NLP as running movies in mind about reality – or how we represent reality to ourselves.

We abstract reality in mind so that we can make sense of it. Taking ownership of our representational thinking is horizontal development (skills and abilities).

Another capacity is to think developmentally (vertical development) is called Cognitive Intelligence (CQ). It is the capacity to think in multiple perspectives – that is first, second, third and fourth person perspectives – about reality. Taking ownership of our awareness and capacity to witness ourselves through multiple perspectives is vertical development (meaning and intention).

Taking ownership of both of these forms of thinking enables you to direct your thinking, modulate and harness it, or even stop it 🙂 Imagine that – quieting the noise inside!


6. Take ownership of Your Feeling Powers (EQ)


Our emotions, feelings and states are a direct product of our thinking. Emotional intelligence starts with that understanding. That the movies that you run in mind affect how you feel about and experience reality emotionally. Your mind-body-emotional states are the direct result of the style and quality of the movies you run about reality. These states then code and modulate your physiological experience – and ultimately your actions and behaviours.

All experience and reactions are governed by your states, as directed by your thinking.

7.  Actualising (active response) your powers to enact and respond

By taking ownership of your thinking (movie making) and therefore your mind-body-emotional states, you can directly influence your active responses to reality (as we’ll see below in a test-of-mind!).

Excellence in action follows excellence in mind.

8. Communicating (linguistic) Powers (verbal/non verbal)

Your linguistic powers are your voice; your ability to speak, to share your thoughts and feelings. That is to communicate on the outside congruently your experience on the inside.

Taking response-ability for your thinking, your feelings and your behaviours, allows you to own your voice and your communicating (both verbal and non-verbal). This means owning what you think, feel, do and say!

Owning your 4-powers, then leads to choice. Choice is at the heart of self-actualisation.

9.  Self Actualisation is everywhere in anything you choose to do or give yourself to

Self-Actualisation is about choices. It’s that simple.

Choices in what you pay attention to (as guided by intent). Choices in how you respond to events, situations, people etc. Choices in what you decide to think and not think, feel and not feel, do and not do, say and not say…

Giving yourself to anything is a choice. But are you choosing it?

10. Intentionality and self actualisation


What you pay attention to is guided by what you intend. For every action there is a positive intent behind it, for that person (actioning). As a value driven human being, you are driven by meanings (intentions).

There is always a positive intention. Whether you achieve what you intend via your actions is another matter.

Self-actualisation is actualising a positive intention in a personally congruent and ecological way.

11. Developmental Action Inquiry (DAI) and responsibility

DAI is a model from Bill Tolbert (Harvard University) that takes an intention through a strategy (plan) to action (embodiment), with a quality check at each step.

Your intent is just that, without a plan. Your plan is just that (a construct) without action. That is, your actions, without a plan or intent, are simply random acts.

The 3 steps of the DAI are then brought together by the evaluation step (checking in). That is, do your actions align with your strategy and is your strategy in line with your intent?

Intent –> Strategy –> Actions –> Quality check at each level for alignment…

Alignment of all 3 steps, with evaluation, equals responsibility for your 4 powers!

12. The Quality check

The quality check is everything. We have a central saying at The Coaching Room – and that is  “how does that serve you?” This is a judgement free quality control question, which enables subjective truth to be and become a part of your modus operandi.

In the DAI model, the quality check is everything – do I have a quality intent? Is my strategy aligned with my intent? Do my actions correlate with my strategy?

13. Joy, love and authentic expression

The output of living a self-actualised life is presence. With presence come love, joy and authentic expression.

The love I am talking about here comes from the inside out. A love of living itself, no matter what’s going on out there.

The Joy I am pointing to here is the joy of being with the truth. The truth of potential.

Authentic expression means speaking and expressing that truth, and being willing to pay the personal and interpersonal cost of that truth, in every waking moment.

14. If it is to be it is up to me

Are you getting the sense that by owning your 4 powers, you are taking responsibility for your experience of reality? That’s a lot of responsibility – and it isn’t for everyone.

You may be sitting there saying to yourself “that sounds like a lot of work Jay, I don’t know that I am up for that!” If you are, I agree. Stay where you are then and be with that truth. But do it with choice 🙂

15. A self Actualising example amongst the hell of the holocaust

Viktor Frankl, one of the forefathers of the human potential movement, is a shining example of the power of being response-able.  When in the concentration camp that Hitler set up to kill those who he hated, Frankl lived on a meagre eight-ounces of soup and a piece of bread every day. 

As a young doctor and psychiatrist he was stripped of his clothes, possessions, and his life’s work (his manuscript of the book “Man’s Search for Meaning”). Victor was imprisoned for no mis-deed except for Hitler’s hatred.  His mother and father were killed, so was his wife and sister.  And yet … in the midst of that hell, in the midst of that unjust cruelty he later re-wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning from the 1st person perspective of having lived it. In that book he said, “They can take everything away from me, but they cannot make me hate them.”

He maintained to the end his power to respond as he chose.  His thinking and feeling was his, and not subject to the environment (others, situations, events). In fact, within the hell of that camp he developed Logo-Therapy and came out basically unscathed because he gave his experience the meaning he chose to give it. 

Another of his powers that he refused to relinquish.  He owned his power to construct meaning about things and would not let them set the frame—he set the frame for himself.  He identified and owned his response-powers and embodied them so that he did not feel—even in that situation—that he was not in charge of himself and had the freedom to live life as he wanted to. 


For me that’s profound, how does it move you?

Stay hungry.




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