September 20, 2021


Content developed by YWCA Spokane Domestic Violence Action Month Committee.

YWCA Spokane’s From Survive to Thrive Educational Series

This Post Will Take a Look At A Survivor’s Experience of Self-Actualization.

DV Education Series: | Intersectionality | Physiological | Safety | Love & Belonging | Esteem | Self-Actualization | Thank You

WARNING: A survivor’s story is included in the below video. Some of the content may be distressing. YWCA’s 24hr helpline is available if needed: 326-2255.

“Hard as it was, I surrendered my spirit to the truth of my circumstances rather than pushing against it. […] The small shift in my attitude toward our circumstances was a moment of rediscovering the self I thought I had lost over the years of abuse and one of many moments of realizing my personal power.” ― Teresa Dixon, YWCA Women’s Opportunity Center Services Manager.

The Peak of Maslow’s Hierarchy Is Self-Actualization

Self-Actualization is a state of personal achievement and full potential. Self-actualization looks different for every person and the journey to self-actualization is not always a linear one. As Maslow said, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” Self actualized people can be described as thriving in life.

As shared by, people who have achieved self-actualization exhibit these traits: self-acceptance, a democratic world view, a sense of realism, problem solving using their personal ethics and responsibilities, autonomy/independence, privacy, a thoughtful sense of humor and spontaneity. Think of self-actualization as the need to become what one has the potential to be. Self actualization is the result of a personal journey that includes healing and growth.

“Self-actualized people…live more in the real world of nature than in the man-made mass of concepts, abstractions, expectations, beliefs and stereotypes that most people confuse with the world.” ― Abraham Maslow, Hierarchy of Needs: A Theory of Human Motivation.

Characteristics of Self-Actualized People

Attaining One’s Full Potential

Fulfilling the other needs in Maslow’s hierarchy helps relieve stress and provides more time to focus on attaining full potential. Sometimes life has challenges that impact the other needs in the hierarchy, even if self actualization has already been reached. The more a person’s other needs are met, the easier it is for them to self actualize. Reaching self-actualization means something different for each person, it can vary greatly. Development is a spectrum. One indicator of self-actualization is increased autonomy. Autonomy is the capacity to make an informed, uncoerced decision. This is when a person uses their inner moral compass to make choices.

The Journey Of Self-Actualization

So, how can someone continue the journey of self actualization? There are many paths to enlightenment. Some options are to participate in activities that fulfill you, ask for help, set S.M.A.R.T. goals and utilize YWCA services/programs.

A S.M.A.R.T. goal is an attainable objective that is:
  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Realistic (reasonable, relevant, resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time based, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Self-Actualization Is A Challenging Journey

Achieving self-actualization requires facing hard truths and the reality of the present situation. Someone can find personal advancement by acknowledging that growth is needed, by changing behavior, and through setting realistic goals. Personal empowerment is a way towards self actualization.

“I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” — Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being.

If You Have…

5 Minutes


10 Minutes


30 Minutes

and and
Watch this video
that sums up the value of all parts of the pyramid, including why self-actualization is important.
and Read this survivor story 
from Teresa, a YWCA staff member, as she share’s her personal account of self-actualization.
and Read this article
from Scott Jeffrey that take a look at a beginners guide to self-actualization.

Support From Our Team At YWCA Spokane

At YWCA Spokane we have many programs, support, and education opportunities to help individuals prosper and progress along their personal journey of self-actualization. Our free and confidential services help people to meet their needs on every level of Maslow’s hierarchy.

Service Updates During COVID

Women’s Opportunity Center

The Women’s Opportunity Center provides services for people seeking employment, including job readiness, skill-building, and mentorship. Services include a skill development program called Essentials, another called Basic Food Employment & Training, and a staffed computer lab where folks can pursue employment. We also host classes like yoga for survivors, responsible renters class, expressive arts for survivors, and Circle of Security parenting classes.

Our Sister’s Closet

Our Sister’s Closet is Spokane’s only free, donation-based, clothing boutique for anyone who identifies as a woman. Our Sister’s Closet provides hygiene items and other necessities and basic clothing items as well as business attire. Our Sister’s Closet helps women prepare for their life and career goals by providing confidence through clothing and other necessities through one-on-one appointments, emergency care packages, and open store events.

Child & Youth Services

ECEAP is a free, state subsidized preschool program that supports kindergarten readiness and therefore long-term success with school and life. ECEAP serves eligible children and their families based on the federal poverty level to ensure the success of all Washington children. Our program works to serve the family holistically by providing preschool education, connections to community resources, family support, parent education and health/nutrition services. In addition, we offer various other child and youth related services including prevention and youth advocacy.

Mental Health Therapy

YWCA Spokane provides empowerment-based holistic mental health services to survivors of intimate partner violence and their families. Our mental health program offers a creative and collaborative approach to the therapy process to explore pathways toward healthier, happier and safer relationships.

Legal Services

There are two avenues for legal assistance at YWCA Spokane. There is legal advocacy (gain clarity regarding protection orders, receive support through the court process) and civil legal services, (assistance to survivors surrounding family law matters such as divorce, custody, child support, parentage, and protection orders).

Confidential Safe Shelter

This service provides temporary, confidential housing for survivors of intimate partner violence and for their children and pets.  Our shelter staff facilitate our 24hr helpline service (call:326-2255, text:220-3725, as well as our shelter services, counseling, case management, education, and basic necessities like food, clothing, personal care items and transportation.

Safe Haven Childcare

Free, appointment-based early care services are available for people utilizing YWCA’s legal services, counseling, attending an Our Sister’s Closet appointment, or are engaged with Essentials or Women to Work classes. A trauma informed classroom is a safe place for children to be while their adult works on personal betterment.

DV Education Series: | Intersectionality | Physiological | Safety | Love & Belonging | Esteem | Self-Actualization | Thank You

By: Rachel Dannen

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