The Self-Actualizing Tendency, Real Self and Ideal Self

by | Mar 23, 2022 | Spiritual PhytoEssencing E-Journal

The self-actualizing drive is the innate creative force within the soul regarding the actualization of one’s potentials. A person who is continually evolving on a deep psychospiritual level is someone whose self-actualizing  drive is active and sustaining its momentum. This type of person is open to the unfolding of life’s experiences, does not repress her or his feelings and makes decisions independent of conditions for acknowledgement imposed by others.

The great psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers identified the “real self” as the aspect of one’s self-structure that is founded in thisself-actualizing tendency, follows organismic valuing (valuing of one’s experiences via intrinsic feelings, intuition and connection to spirit), and expects and receives acknowledgment from others.

In Spiritual PhytoEssencing, the real self is also considered to be the beginning point of the self-structure – that aspect of one’s egoic nature that emerges directly from, and never loses intimate contact with, one’s eternal “I”: the immortal, individualized nucleus of the soul (referred to in Hinduism as the Atman) that remains unchanged throughout the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

Adi Shankara, the 8th century Indian Vedic scholar explains: “The Atman is the witness of the individual mind and its operations. It is absolute knowledge…Atman is pure consciousness.”

The Lankavatara Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism states: “The self realized in your inmost consciousness appears in its purity; this is not the realm of those given over to mere reasoning.”

On the other hand, to the extent that one’s own consciousness and social milieu inhibit the self-actualizing tendency, conforms to conditions of self-worth established by others that are inconsistent with one’s own organismic valuing, and receives acknowledgement that is only conditional, one develops instead an “ideal self” – an outer identity that others consider to be ideal. The ideal self is associated with the socially controlled surface of behavior.

To Rogers, the ideal self is something other than real, (i.e., illusory), something that is always out of reach of what is real within the individual, a standard that the emotional body cannot sustain indefinitely because it is not grounded in a person’s true inner nature. Rogers terms this discrepancy between the real self (the “I am”) and the ideal self (the “I should”) as incongruity. In turn, this incongruity is the cause of most inner emotional discontentment and disappointment, and the central factor in emotional stuckness and inertia regarding achieving progress toward wholeness of being.

Rogers explains:[the individual] discovers how much of her life is guided by what she thinks she should be, not by what she is. Often, she discovers that she exists only in response to the demands of others, that she seems to have no self of her own, that she is only trying to think, and feel, and behave in the way that others believe she ought to think and feel and behave.”

The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard pointed out that the most common despair is to be in despair at not choosing, or willing to be oneself.The deepest form of despair is to choose “to be another than oneself.” On the other hand “to will to be that self which one truly is, is indeed the opposite of despair.”

In many people the ideal self, rather than being an instrument used by the real self to help actualize its soul-directed will and desires in the outer world becomes a semi-autonomous to fully autonomous entity that is primarily guided by the ideas and expectations of others rather than organismic valuing.

The goal of Spiritual PhytoEssencing blending is to reorient consciousness, via the construction of customized essential oil blends that by mirroring one’s true soul nature, helps lead the individual back to what spiritual teacher Richard Moss refers to as the “beginning of oneself.”

Once the hierarchical superiority of the real self is reestablished then a directional process toward wholeness of being is initiated that replaces a chronic static state or stuckness. In other words, the real self is continually moving in the direction of fulfilling its full potential. Rogers refers to this as being a “fully functioning person.”

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