What Is Humanistic Psychology (How To Understand Yourself Better)

Psychology has many theories and concepts that can help us understand ourselves. One of these is humanistic psychology or humanism. This article will explain what humanistic psychology is and how you can use it to better understand who you are.

Humanistic psychology claims that each of us is unique and has free will. It also believes the fact that we can improve ourselves fully through self-actualization. Humanism also reiterates that you are responsible for your behavior and achieving your personal growth and fulfillment.

Believe it or not, some therapists use humanistic psychology to help people understand themselves. It is called humanistic therapy, and that’s how powerful this concept is. 

If you’d like to improve yourself and reach your full potential, humanistic psychology is something you should learn and explore. So without any further ado, let’s start exploring this assumption and see how you can use it to achieve personal growth and fulfillment.

Humanistic Psychology: What Is It & Why Does It Matter?

What Is Humanistic Psychologist (How To Understand Yourself Better)

Humanistic psychology, also known as humanism, is a subfield that emerged in the mid-20th century. It is in response to the limitations of Psychoanalytic Theory by Sigmund Freud and Behaviorism by B. F. Skinner.

The term “humanistic” was coined by Abraham Maslow, one of the school’s founders. Humanism focuses on the study of the following related to each other.

  1. As human beings
  2. Our behavior
  3. Our mental processes

It assumes that humans have certain core characteristics essential to their humanity, including self-awareness and the ability to seek fulfillment and happiness.

Humanistic psychologists believe that we can make choices in our lives and can change if we want to. While we can’t always control everything that happens to us, humanistic psychologists believe that we can control how we react to events.

Why does it matter?

Humanistic psychologists believe that humans are born with an innate desire for self-actualization and can reach their full potential to live fulfilling lives.

Humanistic psychology aims to help us discover our strengths and make the most of them. And that’s exactly the reason why humanism matters! It helps us become the best version of ourselves by understanding our nature.

Characteristics Of Humanistic Psychology

The primary goal of humanistic psychology is to understand what it means and takes to be human and how we can live fulfilled lives.

The characteristics of humanistic psychology include the following.

  • A focus on individualism
  • An interest in self-actualization and self-fulfillment
  • A focus on subjective experiences over objective facts

What Is Self-Actualization?

Self-actualization is considered the highest level of human psychological development, as seen in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

  1. Physiological needs like clothing, food, and shelter
  2. Safety like job security
  3. Love and a sense of belongingness, like friendship
  4. Esteem
  5. Self-actualization

It is the process of becoming a more complete, fulfilled version of yourself, and that means:

  • Wanting to grow and learn
  • Explore and experience
  • To live life to its fullest potential

Self-actualization is not just about being happy. It’s about being fulfilled, which are two different matters. It also requires a lot of introspection and self-examination. That means you must look at yourself honestly and critically to make changes in your life where necessary.

How to understand yourself better with humanism?

As said earlier, humanistic psychology focuses on improving yourself by understanding yourself. It means you can’t achieve personal growth and fulfillment if you don’t know how to understand your behavior and mental processes.

So how do you use the humanistic approach to understand yourself better? That’s where you can use self-actualization! Here are some processes on how you can achieve self-actualization and lead you to a better understanding of yourself.

Find out who you are and why you are the way you are.

The first step in understanding yourself is to dig deeper into your inner self.

You can’t see your emotional body because it’s not physical, but it’s there! It contains all of your feelings, thoughts, and desires. Your emotional body makes you unique from any other person on earth. And that’s what you need to see and understand.

But how? You can ask yourself several questions, such as the following.

  • What drives you?
  • What motivates you?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What do you dislike?
  • What kinds of things do you like?
  • What are your priorities in life?
  • What are your beliefs and values?
  • How does your environment shape your personality?

By taking the time to think about who you are and why, you’ll be able to make more decisions that align with who you really are, and that will help guide your life in the right direction.

Believe it or not, take it from introverts! Introverts love reflecting, and they ask themselves the same questions. This is why they are great at understanding themselves and the people around them.

You can be like introverts who have self-awareness and awareness of their environment.

Develop your sense of self.

Part of self-actualization is developing your sense of self. This is different from your personality, which is the total of all your traits and characteristics. Your sense of self is akin to an internal compass that helps you find the way in life.

You can think of it as a kind of internal GPS or map that helps guide you toward the things that are most important to you.

The best way to develop this sense of self is by reflecting on who you are and what matters to you and then taking action based on those reflections.

Here are some ways to develop your sense of self.

Define what success means to you.

You just need to ask yourself some questions so you can define success. Look at the following.

  • What does success look like for you? 
  • What would it feel like to achieve it? 
  • How would it change your life?

Figure out what makes you happy.

What makes you feel fulfilled and at peace with yourself and your choices? Is it family time, good food, or a long walk on an empty beach? Whatever it is, make sure you’re spending time doing those things!

Know what makes you uncomfortable and why.

If some things or situations make your stomach churn or your heart race, don’t avoid them! We can only grow as people by facing our fears and overcoming them.

Accept yourself.

Accepting yourself isn’t about ignoring your flaws or pretending they don’t exist. It’s about acknowledging and working on them, so they don’t hold you back from being who you want to be.

When we’re struggling with accepting ourselves, it can be easy to get trapped in all the ways we feel like we’re failing. But by accepting yourself, you’re committing to take actionable steps towards making those changes, one day at a time.

By accepting yourself, you are allowing yourself the freedom to be your best self. And that’s the purpose of humanism.

Learn how to communicate well.

Learning how to communicate is an important part of self-actualization.

It is also one essential skill you can learn in life. It’s not just about being able to talk to people but also about listening and understanding what people are saying.

When you communicate well, you can solve problems more easily and strengthen your relationships. You’ll also be able to work better with others and get along better at work or school.

If you want to become better at communicating, here are some tips.

  • Listen carefully when someone else is speaking, and don’t interrupt them until they’re done talking.
  • Use “I” statements instead of blaming others, like I’m angry because…” rather than “You always make me angry.”
  • Don’t judge other people’s feelings or make assumptions based on what they say. Instead, ask questions, so they know you’re listening and understanding them fully before moving forward with any kind of solution.

Understand why you’re doing and saying these things.

Self-actualization is the process of understanding why you do what you do and says what you say. It is a journey of self-discovery that leads to fulfillment.

You can take a step towards self-actualization by asking yourself:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Why am I saying this?

If a friend asked me why I was doing something or saying something, I would answer them because it’s important that you can explain your actions and words.

Self-actualization also means being aware of how your actions affect others. Likewise, by answering questions about your behavior, you’ll see patterns such as:

  • What motivates you?
  • What inspires you?
  • Where do your priorities lie?

When you start seeing those patterns emerge, you get closer and closer to understanding who you really are. And when you know yourself better than anyone else, it makes it easier to live your truth out loud every day.

Be honest with yourself and others regarding your thoughts, actions, words, and desires.

Being honest with yourself and others regarding your thoughts, actions, words, and desires is part of self-actualization. This means being honest about where you are in life and where you want to be in the future.

See these examples:

  • If you’re struggling with something, tell someone!
  • If you want something from someone else, whether a person or an object, ask for it!
  • If there’s something you need to apologize for, say so!

When you are honest with yourself, you can clearly see all the areas of your life that need improvement or change. This allows you to improve those areas and make them better than they were before.

Likewise, being honest with others about who you are and your goals allows them to support you on your journey toward growth. Your honesty will also help them grow because they can see how much progress you have made since being honest with yourself.

How to change your life with humanistic psychology?

Humanistic psychology can help you change your life and improve it in many ways. Here are some ways you can use humanism to transform your life.

Examine, learn, and improve your life.

You can use humanism to examine, learn, and use that information to improve your life.

It focuses on the idea that you are the creator of your own happiness and can change things about yourself and your life if you want to.

It sounds like a ton of work, but it’s not that hard! You just have to take a few steps back and look at what’s happening in your life. And then figure out how you want things to be different, and then get there!

Use your strengths to better yourself.

One of the most important things humanistic psychologists teach is that each of us has strengths and weaknesses, but we should focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses.

This is because when we focus on our strengths, it makes us feel good about ourselves. When we feel good about who we are and what we can do, we are more likely to make positive changes in our lives and the world around us.

See these examples.

  • Let’s say you’re really talented at writing. You have a way with words that most people don’t have. You could write a book or start a blog where people could learn from your writing style!
  • If you’re really good at art, you could sell your paintings online or open up an art gallery!
  • If you’re great at sports, go out there and join some teams and make a name!

Whatever your strength may be, there’s always something fun you can do that can improve your life in one way or another.

Improve your self-esteem.

Self-esteem is one of the most important elements of your life. It impacts every single decision you make and how you react to the people and circumstances around you.

Self-esteem is a complex concept, but it boils down to this. Do you believe that you are a worthy person? If so, then your self-esteem is high. If not, then your self-esteem is low.

If your self-esteem is low, it’s time for some humanistic psychology! You can improve your esteem by doing things like;

Being self-compassionate. Take an active role in caring for yourself instead of beating up on yourself for mistakes.

Having self-acceptance. Letting go of things that you can’t control or past experiences without beating yourself up.

Having self-responsibility. Taking responsibility for your actions and not blaming others for them.

Reduce stress and gain clarity in life.

Humanistic psychology focuses on the individual and their emotions rather than on the environment or circumstances around them. This can help you cope with your stressors rather than just trying to change them with willpower alone.

For example, you might feel stressed because you have too much work on your plate. 

This could be due to an external factor like having too many projects from your boss or an internal one like being disorganized and unable to prioritize which tasks need attention first.

You’ll learn how to calm down when things get overwhelming with humanistic psychology techniques such as mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises.

Another way you can use humanistic psychology in your everyday life is by gaining clarity about what you want out of life and then pursuing it wholeheartedly! 

Humanistic psychologists believe that when we have clarity about what matters most to us, we can focus our energy on those things instead of getting caught up in distractions or trivialities.

Humanistic psychology focuses on change and growth!

Humanistic psychology is about expanding your horizons, reaching your goals, and realizing that you have the power to change the world around you!

It’s a positive stance that looks at the potential of humans to change and grow rather than focusing on what’s wrong with us.

This is a great way to think about your life and the lives of others around you. The humanistic approach encourages us to see people as whole beings with growth potential. Also, it helps us understand our own potential for growth!

It’s all about searching for a way to make your life more meaningful by making it more fulfilling for yourself and others!

Garo Kotchounian

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