Healthy Beginnings

The path to self-actualization: Removing obstacles that keep you disconnected

Get your head out of the sand — the path to self-actualization is easier than you think!

As children, we are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up, or what do you want to do in the world?”

From there, our dreams and goals begin to form in our minds. Many times we do not know “why” we have that aspiration, yet the answer to “why” will determine whether or not they are achieved.

We often hear, “follow your heart’s desire,” yet do you know what that really means? When your dreams and goals are based upon the fulfillment of your needs, your heart becomes filled with desire for the object, action or circumstance that will meet those needs, and you have unlimited access to your creativity and motivation to make it a reality.

That is the process of self-actualization — the quest for material objects and emotional and spiritual experiences, which lends to happiness, fulfillment and peace.

It entails the process of fully developing and using one’s abilities. The prolific inventor Thomas Edison said, “If we did all the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”

The quest begins by understanding that each of us as human beings has the same needs, yet the importance of a need varies per person and determines the intensity of an emotion of satisfaction or dissatisfaction each person experiences.

Further, the strategy — a.k.a. our heart’s desire (the object, action or circumstance) — that will meet the need varies person to person, thus the root of humankind’s material, emotional and spiritual diversity.

It is from the individuals’ awareness of their own needs, and what would fulfill them, that has been the gateway to mankind’s great achievements and reaching one’s potential.


What stands in your way to self-actualization?
There are many obstacles to self-actualization, and they are rooted in a lack of understanding of the inner workings of the human emotional landscape.

People are operating day to day with the lacking of awareness regarding their own emotions, needs and harmful beliefs.

Subsequently, they are not able to develop and implement viable strategies that lead to the realization of their full potential.


Inner workings of the human emotional landscape

Your needs and thoughts give rise to your emotions. If your need is met, you experience the emotions of satisfaction, and when those needs are not met, you experience emotions of dissatisfaction, according to the article “What is Self-Actualization,” on the website

What interferes with this simple mechanism is being disconnected from your feelings and needs. In this article, I’ll discuss three mechanisms that keep you disconnected:

  1. Being focused on a negative interpretation of another’s behavior or a circumstance.
  2. Beliefs that imprison you in “victim’s consciousness” or “shame.”
  3. Being trapped in the brain’s neuron networks.


  1. Being focused on a negative interpretation of another’s behavior

Here’s an example what it looks like in dialogue. A friend has made a mistake, and your thoughts are, “my friend is an idiot … stupid … irresponsible.” You experience being anxious.

Your friend senses you are not happy and asks, “You look upset — are you OK?” You respond with, “You are a stupid idiot — you parked in my spot.”

Your mind stays focused upon your interpretation of his character and action, thus failing to answer his question about your upset emotions.

Without connecting consciously to identify your emotions — anxiety — you remain anxious and cannot connect to identify your need to park your car where his car is parked. You walk away muttering, “he’s such an idiot,” and remain anxious.

Had you not been negatively interpreting the friend’s action and had been able to identify your emotion, you would have been able to respond to his question with: “I’m anxious because I’m now worried that I can’t make an important appointment on time because I can’t park in my usual spot — your car is parked where I need to park. I need to be on time. I’m afraid I’ll get blocked in, and then I’ll be late.

“I want to park in that space so it’s guaranteed I won’t get blocked in and won’t be late, or worse, I’ll have to cancel. Could you park in another spot so I can have a timely, guaranteed departure?”

Here, the emotion of being afraid was identified, the need for certainty, predictability and freedom was defined, and a strategy to meet the needs was conceived.

Again, according to the “What is Self-Actualization” article, being able to connect/identify with the feeling leads us to identify the need — and if you clearly identify the need, you can develop a strategy to fulfill it.

Let’s be clear — negative interpretations and their consequences can happen in any situation, thus preventing you from happiness, inner peace and reaching your potential professionally and personally.


  1. Beliefs that imprison you in “victim’s consciousness” or shame
    When you cannot connect with your emotions or identify your needs, typically they are hidden behind a veil of belief(s) rooted in guilt/fault finding, blaming of others, and/or shame about yourself.

The mind is consumed with judging and harmful interpretations and not able to focus within upon facts — your emotions and unmet needs.

When your thoughts are based on interpretation by using negative evaluation of another person’s behavior, and you then blame them for your emotions, this is what it means to be imprisoned by “victim’s consciousness.”

You believe you are powerless to your experience and powerless to create what you desire. The mind is focused upon faultfinding and blaming others for your misery.

Some people confuse self-actualization — i.e., reaching their potential — with becoming something other than who they are, and this leads to failure instead of achievement.

It occurs from the lack of awareness that they are struggling with “shame,” the belief that they are inferior because they see themselves as broken or defective. Hence, they are motivated to become “that other person” so they can escape their painful belief that who they are inferior.

Sadly, shame also is the belief you are unworthy and underserving of getting your needs met — or, that your emotions are of any value — and that always prevents success.

When success is within reach, people will fail to follow through to achieve their success. Shame is a belief and that creates thoughts of self-hatred. A belief is not a fact — it is a product of one’s emotional abuse.

All of us have and will experience shame, yet for some, it forms their identity, and as such, shame interferes with your thinking. Thus, actions are chosen to achieve the outcome that reinforces the belief of being broken, defective, unworthy and underserving.

Have you ever not tried something because you were afraid of failure? Fear of failure arises from shame.


  1. Being trapped in the brain’s neuron networks

All of your beliefs, thoughts and emotions have constructed neuron networks, which can keep you trapped where you are.

It is critical to break down those networks of blaming others — i.e., victim’s consciousness and shame — to establish new networks built with new thinking and beliefs based upon self-love.

Sometimes it’s necessary to support this transition with neuron therapies such as diet, nutraceuticals and acupuncture so you can create the material, emotional and spiritual fulfillment otherwise known as self-actualization.

For more information on therapies and diagnostic tests regarding your brain’s wellbeing, contact Van Harding, LAc, Dipl. OM, at Tahoe Neuro Healing, located in Truckee, by visiting or calling 530-536-5084.