Do you feel at times like you’re not really living to your full potential? Like something is holding you back? Like you are surviving through life instead of actually living it? Many of us do, and we feel weighed down by it.
We feel like we have become slaves to our jobs and crafts that we don’t find fulfillment or joy in anything. And this shouldn’t be the case, we ought to live life to the fullest because we only get one chance.
Here, we are going to look at how self-realization helps to fill the void we feel exists in our lives and how exactly achieve it through a couple of tweaks in our lives.
What Exactly is Self-realization?
When it comes to the term “self-realization”, there are many definitions that have been given out by different groups of people.
Some say it is the ability to become the best version of ourselves. Others say it is pretty much the answer to the fundamental question, “Who am I?” that we all ask ourselves. There are also others who say that it is the way to release our individual abilities and potential to the world.
The most popular definition is one given by Abraham Maslow, who was an American Psychologist known for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He said self-realization is the process of slowing becoming all that you are capable of becoming.
It is widely believed that all of us are born with uniquely different natural abilities and talents which we are supposed to make use of to benefit others and the world at large. And it is only when we begin to search within ourselves that we discover these abilities and the unlimited potential we have.
From there, we can slowly build and make the most of them through proper and consistent action which eventually makes us feel complete, fulfilled, and purposeful in life.
How to Attain Self Realization And Transform Your Life Forever
Now while the concept of self-realization is the same across the world, our individual approach to it is supposed to be different. There is no life template or script that we are supposed to use to achieve the self-realization that works for everyone.
We all have to take different paths and work on them in our own way until we get there. That being the case, there are still some similarities of the paths of self-realization for us all. There are stages we all go through as well as some recommended practices that help us find our paths.
Let’s take a look at some of the highly recommended practices, techniques, and tips we can all use for discovering our paths and attaining self-realization.
1. Find Comfort in your own company
One of the most important things we should focus on as we begin our journey to self-realization is to befriend ourselves. We should get comfortable hanging out alone, all by ourselves.
Our relationships with other people such as our friends, partners, and family are necessary and we need to treasure them, but we should also give our alone time just as much importance.
Having your “me time” will help you discover so much about yourself. It is during such times that we get to be alone with our thoughts, feelings, perspectives, and beliefs. Here we aim to understand who we are by thinking about our past, present, and future.
We also think about ourselves as individuals without comparing ourselves to other people we know. We take time to reflect on our abilities and talents, our desires, our strengths and weaknesses, our fears, our deepest insecurities, our motives based on past, present, and future actions, and any other aspect of our lives we feel is crucial.
As we create more time for ourselves, we begin to reconnect with the self and even start noticing that we are beginning to look forward to our “alone time”.
2. Break ties holding you back
As earlier mentioned, self-realization is all about being the best version of yourself, and to achieve that, you need to know what holds you back. The negative attitude, poor thinking patterns, self-limiting beliefs, fear, negative feelings and emotions, and bad habits are some of the things we need to investigate in our lives. While doing this activity, we should be honest with ourselves. We need to explore those sides which reveal our weakest nature so that we can overcome them.
We are encouraged to make a list of the things we feel hold us back and begin addressing them one at a time. We can ask people who know us well that really care about our well-being as they can see the reflections of our weaknesses through our words and actions.
From there, we should then look for solutions we know we deal with the weaknesses permanently and put them to practice immediately, and stick to them until we fully overcome them.
3. Learn to accept reality and truth
We have to train ourselves to accept things as they are. This means that we first have to accept ourselves with all the flaws we know we have. No one is perfect and by accepting our shortcomings and weaknesses, we set the pace for full self-realization.
Our acceptance should also spill over to occurrences that happen contrary to what we hoped for. For instance, if we hoped it would rain so our crops can grow and it stead the sun comes out, we should be open and welcoming to it despite it not being what we would have wanted to happen.
The same case applies to people who we don’t get along with. In almost everyone’s life, there is always one or a couple of people who they don’t want to associate with at all. This could be a friend, a neighbor, a family member, or even a relative. We should thrive to accept these people in our lives.
We may not always want to hang out with them but we should accept that they are part of our lives.
4. Speak to a therapist
Therapy can also go a long way in this area. Most often, we think that therapy is for depressed people or those seeking to be rehabilitated. This is quite the contrary.
You don’t necessarily need to have health issues to visit a therapist.
See, most of the characteristics of people who have attained self-realization such as being authentic, compassionate and others may need a little guidance from a health professional to fully get there.
That is why therapy is encouraged.
There are many types of therapy including behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, transpersonal therapy, holistic therapy, humanistic therapy, and others, and you can personally choose the kind of therapy you want to have based on the needs you feel you have.
Humanistic therapy, transpersonal therapy, and holistic therapy are some of the forms of therapy that can help with different aspects of self-realization.
5. Be spontaneous once in a while
Most of us are used to living life “by the book”, that is by following certain structures, regulations, rules, and templates to make sure we live properly, safely, and fairly comfortably.
However, there is a need to regularly get out of your way and do something new.
We should once in a while do the things we wouldn’t normally do. Instead of going to work and then coming home from work and beginning to prepare supper and sleep, today we can decide to do something different. Take a long walk or drive after work. Go visit a long-lost friend.
Doing unconventional things while still being careful with our lives, helps to break the monotony we have created in our lives and make life more exciting and worth living.
6. Be grateful of the small things in life
It is also very important to be mindful and appreciative of the small good things going on in our lives. Oftentimes, we tend to overlook the tiny moments that bring joy to our lives and this can keep us from truly enjoying life and being fully grateful. Things like having a warm or cool refreshing shower, family dinner or having dinner with a close friend, morning sunshine, good health, good laughter, and many others. It is such small things that remind us life is still going fairly well for us despite the challenges we may be facing at that particular moment.
It also gives us the motivation to work for a better tomorrow and also have hope that things will get better eventually.
Self-realization is all about living as best you know you can and being thankful for everything no matter how small it is, is part of this bigger picture.
7. Meditate often
Meditation is a good way to regulate and improve ourselves. There are many forms of meditation out there that are known to bring about different benefits. We should try our best to take up meditation and practice it in the long term.
Meditation allows us to reduce the constant mental chatter that blocks us from being fully present in the moment. By learning to redirect our attention and focus from other unnecessary things that we often get stuck on, we can instead consciously direct our awareness and concentration in the present moment, and increase the value of the activities we are involved in. If we are having a discussion with someone, we can be aware of ourselves and therefore participate much better in the discussions than we would normally do when we are absent-minded.
A good place to begin meditating is by using guided meditation resources including meditation audios, videos, and apps where we have a meditation teacher walking us through our meditation sessions. We get to be taken through the list of things we must do to make our sessions successful as well as understand the experiences we are having as we meditate. As we get better at meditating, we can then consider the option of meditating on our own in silence.
Meditation forms like Vipassana meditation are known to provide insight into our lives and help us make the transformation that we need to become peaceful, happy, free, and achieve self-realization. And the practice can give us a push towards the right direction in terms of finding our own path.
8. Make time for self-realization every day
We can all agree that at times, we feel like 24 hours is not enough time to call it a day. We feel like we need more time to do serious things, not to mention creating time for something like self-realization. We have deadlines to meet, families to take care of, parents to look after and our businesses to run. And adding more activities to our already tight schedule might seem like a bother. But in reality, it isn’t.
If we spare a few minutes and reflect on the things we do in a typical day, we might find so many opportunities we have which we can spare on self-improvement that we spend on negative habits. Perhaps you spend hours watching movies or playing video games or even browsing the internet and going through your social media page. Not that any of these is bad, but maybe you are spending more time than you actually should.
By being honest with ourselves as we evaluate our daily activities and habits, we can find 10 to 30 minutes we can squeeze for self-realization. Think about it this way, you are going to be spending those few minutes figuring out how to explore your full potential and live the kind of life you have always desired. Now that is something to look forward to.
9. Be compassionate
Compassion is another way to connect deeply with yourself and others. Being able to understand the suffering that is happening within yourself and on others and constantly seeking to alleviate it is powerful and a sign you are self-actualized.
Not only does this apply to being compassionate to human beings but also other living beings in the world including pets.
The virtue of compassion comes naturally to some people but for others, it needs to be cultivated.
And some of the best ways to do grow in compassion is by taking time to do compassion meditation and to interact and understand the lives of people living a much lower life, economically. Whether it is in person, or through the media, we can make an effort and get to gain so much insight that will allow us to be more kind and understanding to other people as well as to appreciate the little that we may have since there’s always someone who has less.
10. Explore your spiritual self
Another very important thing to do is to take time to understand what our souls desire as individuals. There is more to life than just money and material possessions. And getting to know the other beautiful and satisfying thing about life, which goes beyond physical wealth, takes us to a whole new level of gratification, peace, and contentment.
That is why we need to spend time with ourselves exploring our spiritual side. For some, this may mean praying or meditating or thinking about the universe or anything else you personally feel takes you to another place of calm, deep peace, and wakefulness. Such things help us. Get in touch with the self which brings us close to self-realization.
11. Remain focused inwards
To achieve our goals and be what we have always wanted to be, or more, we should challenge the goals we have set for ourselves and demand a bit more from ourselves. This means looking at our existing goals and questioning if they are designed in a way to get us to where we want to be. It may also mean questioning how we execute our goals and the daily activities that are meant to get us to our dreams.
Being focused on this area and doing a lot of self-work that involves thinking about our dreams and aligning our short-term and long-term goals as well as planning and daily tasks with the dreams will help us be the best versions of ourselves.
12. Live authentically
One of the biggest mistakes we tend to make is to want to please others and live by what we feel they define as right. At times, we crave validation so much that we end up displeasing ourselves by pleasing others.
However, to have a taste of self-realization, we are encouraged to live and do things according to our nature. We should follow our hearts and lessons from past experiences to steer our lives towards where we want to be.
Living authentically means being in touch with your true nature and acting in accordance with it. We follow our intuitions, well-thought-out plans and execute things based on how we feel is fit.
Stages of self-realization
As with everything that brings about long-lasting changes, self-realization takes time and involves a couple of stages that aim to get your soul to evolve and get you to become the person you were meant to be and be able to tap into your full potential. Let’s take a look at each of the stages and what they involve:
Stage 1. Self-inquiry
This is the initial stage where we begin asking questions regarding our “self”. Some of the questions we ask ourselves as uniquely different individuals include “Who am I?”, “Why am I on earth at this particular period?”, “What is my purpose on earth?” and other similar ones that help us dig deeper for answers.
It is questions like these that allow us to think beyond our normal thinking patterns, and our boundaries and want to explore more about the self. And this results in the discovery of new ideas and having new feelings that reshape how we currently see the world and lead to the source of the truth about the self, which ultimately leads to freedom and happiness.
Stage 2. Self-discovery
This is the stage where we begin looking into our abilities and focusing specifically on both our strengths and weaknesses. The discovery we make in this stage is good but also painful. Sometimes too painful to accept. We may be happy about the strengths we have and how different we are from the people who don’t possess the same strengths but we may also be disappointed by the weaknesses we come to learn we have as well.
We get to realize some things we didn’t have conscious knowledge of that have been keeping us from performing at our best and accepting such things may at times be very hard. However, this is the point where we need to be completely honest with ourselves so that we can solve the issues and get past them to keep growing towards the stage that follows which is known as self-awareness.
Stage 3. Self-awareness
This is the point where we now get to understand who we are in terms of personality, beliefs, perspectives about life, and character as a whole. In the same breath, we get to know and understand the power that we have that is hidden and lying there unused like a sleeping giant.
And we get to improve our ability to rely on our gut instincts, thoughts, and judgment, which take us even deeper through the process of self-realization.
Stage 4. Self-acceptance
Self-acceptance is the stage where you have known who you are and you are now okay. You are well aware of your weak and dark side, and you are at peace with it since you are ready to work on it and overcome the barriers in your life.
In this stage, you are not clouded by any fake appearances or short-lived experiences. You have clarity of who you are and see the opportunity of becoming what you have always envisioned through consistent personal effort and commitment.
With the clarity you now have, you are no longer moved by the opinions of other people.
Stage 5. Self-empowerment
This stage is where we get to embrace our new view of the world. We have already known ourselves, our good and bad side. We have also mastered letting go of the things that keep us from progressing in life and we feel more alive, awake, and present.
We now use the knowledge and understanding to tap into and maintain our inner bliss. In this stage, we feel peaceful, genuinely happy, healthy, confident, hopeful, and mentally clear. We just feel right despite what may be happening in our lives. And we see our problems as opportunities to grow and get even better.
Stage 6. Self-love
In this stage, we begin to develop compassion and loving-kindness towards ourselves. We feel content and happy about who we are, and our lives. This brings about a sense of inner completion. Since we have known our beliefs, perspectives, thought patterns, and feelings, and we have accepted them as well as having made peace with our past, we get to feel at peace and confident even as we are growing and letting go of our weaker side.
Stage 7. Self-respect
This stage comes with a sense of respect for yourself that springs from the peace you have built within yourself by learning to forgive yourself, accept who you are, and work towards the areas you fall short. Now you begin to feel you are on the right track, you are making progress and you are doing what should be done. Your growth mindset makes you respect and be proud of yourself.
Stage 8. Self-transformation
Here, you direct all your attention and energy into dropping the destructive habits and self-made beliefs and you tap into your uniqueness and authenticity as a single entity. You notice change happening and your life-transforming and you are happy about it.
Stage 9. Self-mastery
Self-mastery is properly defined as getting your mind body and soul to act as one. Where what you think and feel, and how you act in accordance with that, is in line with what your soul yearns for. This kind of mastery allows you to be deeply peaceful, calm, wakeful, kind, generous, truthful, understanding, and well-balanced.
You no longer wish to get validation from others nor do you seek those things that make people feel powerful which are known to be destructive such as pride and arrogance.
Stage 10. Self-realization
In this stage, you have become well-grounded in truth, you feel lighter because of having gotten rid of the “shiny objects” that used to bring short-lived happiness and you have replaced that with true peace and happiness by connecting yourself with the soul and the ground of being.
At this point, you also have a much wider perspective and view of the world and you no longer think about yourself and your well-being but also the well-being of others.
This is the state that is also referred to as enlightenment or spiritual consciousness, or nirvana or self-consciousness, where you feel balanced and you know how things should be done and you are actively doing things the right way.
It is worth noting that, while you now have a proper guideline of how to go about gaining self-realization, the journey itself is going to take quite some time and it might be a little rocky for you than you think. However, you have to get started and keep going despite all the odds so that you get there in good time.
Putting into practice what you have learned and being consistent, and determined are what will ultimately get you there. As you keep going, you are slowly going to notice the weight begin to come off your shoulders and you’ll feel lighter, more peaceful, calm, and happy, and this will reflect in your life.
Your life will begin to transform and you will love the changes and eventually, you will get to a place of deep peace, a sense of satisfaction, and fulfillment.