"We are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to be whole."
To be self-realized is to realize who you are and who you are not. To be self-actualized is to actually be who you are with no pretension and to be okay with that and to love yourself unconditionally as the spirit/being you really are. That is not to say that a self-actualized person may not strive to be better along the way or attempt to overcome some of their fears or conceptual barriers. After all, these feats are connected to our purpose in Earth. Self-actualization is simply loving who we are in-spite of our shortcomings and enjoying the journey.
A self-realized person has realized who they are and who they are not. This person understands that they are spiritual, or has an over compulsive disorder, or is unorganized, or is insecure, or is passive-aggressive, or any other personality trait. They realize this, but may not be comfortable in this box. Sometimes they overcompensate for their shortcomings. Sometimes, they wish to be something else and create a façade that appears to be different. Realizing who we truly are is the first step to self-actualization.
Self-actualization is accepting who you actually are without creating a front that appears to be something else. Someone that is self-actualized may realize that they are unorganized or always late. That person accepts this and avoids the pitfalls of abusing themselves for it. They do not try to explain their tardiness by accusing others of being responsible. Moreover, they love themselves in-spite of this trait.
That said, because life is always changing and we are always striving to improve ourselves, the self-actualized person might realize that their tardiness is an inconvenience to others while causing stress for themselves. They may set a goal to improve on-time arrival, knowing that it will enhance their life. They do not abuse themselves for their setbacks. Instead they are gentle with themselves. They recognize why their efforts are not working and use their gifts and advantages to help them along the way. They reassess and reconfigure, until one day they accomplish the goal.
Often times, our shortcomings are our purposes in life. This is different than our mission in life. We may have come here to figure out how to overcome some barrier, shortcoming, or understanding that we have. Managing our purpose helps us to accomplish our mission that much easier.
Truly loving ourselves and accepting who we are is a huge accomplishment in life. In fact, it is something that many believe is impossible. I believe all things are possible. First we must conceive it. Then, believe it. Finally, we must strive for it.
Start with self-realization. Who are you? Who are you mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially? Be honest with yourself. What is awesome about you and what don’t you like? No one else has to know what you think of you at this time. Write it in a journal.
Next step, write out who you want to be. Make note, before you make any efforts to change, sit with the “you” that you are. Learn to love that person. The worst is not that others will not like you; it is that “you” will not like you. You will intuitively become the greatest you when you are honest with yourself.
So, how do you learn to love you? By understanding why you are who you have become. Look at who you were in the past, how you were raised, and how you managed your challenges in life. Try to remember how you processed concepts fed to you by your family, teachers, and friends. Mentally observe yourself at your greatest moments in life and at your worst. Take notes and know that you are always being the best “you” in any given moment.
These are just stepping-stones to getting to love. Getting to know you can be painful, scary, lonely, beautiful, refreshing, and enlightening. But there is nothing more enriching.