Actualizing Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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Because it is possible to create - creating one's self, willing to be one's self, as well as creating in all the innumerable daily activities (and these are two phases of the same process) - one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever. Now creating, actualizing one's possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living. If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibility to himself. Hence refusal to actualize one's possibilities brings guilt toward one's self. But creating also means destroying the status quo of one's environment, breaking the old forms; it means producing something new and original in human relations as well as in cultural forms (e.g., the creativity of the artist). Thus every experience of creativity has its potentiality of aggression or denial toward other persons in one's environment or established patterns within one's self. To put the matter figuratively, in every experience of creativity something in the past is killed that something new in the present may be born. Hence, for Kierkegaard, guilt feeling is always a concomitant of anxiety: both are aspects of experiencing and actualizing possibility. The more creative the person, he held, the more anxiety and guilt are potentially present.

Rollo May
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Woman's fear of the female Self, of the experience of the numinous archetypal Feminine, becomes comprehensible when we get a glimpse - or even only a hint - of the profound otherness of female selfhood as contrasted to male selfhood. Precisely that element which, in his fear of the Feminine, the male experiences as the hole, abyss, void, and nothingness turns into something positive for the woman without, however, losing these same characteristics. Here the archetypal Feminine is experienced not as illusion and as maya but rather as unfathomable reality and as life in which above and below, spiritual and physical, are not pitted against each other; reality as eternity is creative and, at the same time, is grounded in primeval nothingness. Hence as daughter the woman experiences herself as belonging to the female spiritual figure Sophia, the highest wisdom, while at the same time she is actualizing her connection with the musty, sultry, bloody depths of swamp-mother Earth. However, in this sort of Self-discovery woman necessarily comes to see herself as different from what presents itself to men -as, for example, spirit and father, but often also as the patriarchal godhead and his ethics. The basic phenomenon - that the human being is born of woman and reared by her during the crucial developmental phases - is expressed in woman as a sense of connectedness with all living things, a sense not yet sufficiently realized, and one that men, and especially the patriarchal male, absolutely lack to the extent women have it. To experience herself as so fundamentally different from the dominant patriarchal values understandably fills the woman with fear until she arrives at that point in her own development where, through experience and love that binds the opposites, she can clearly see the totality of humanity as a unity of masculine and feminine aspects of the Self.

Erich Neumann
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Whether we are speaking of a flower or an oak tree, of an earthworm or a beautiful bird, of an ape or a person, we will do well, I believe, to recognize that life is an active process, not a passive one. Whether the stimulus arises from within or without, whether the environment is favorable or unfavorable, the behaviors of an organism can be counted on to be in the direction of maintaining, enhancing, and reproducing itself. This is the very nature of the process we call life. This tendency is operative at all times. Indeed, only the presence or absence of this total directional process enables us to tell whether a given organism is alive or dead. The actualizing tendency can, of course, be thwarted or warped, but it cannot be destroyed without destroying the organism. I remember that in my boyhood, the bin in which we stored our winter's supply of potatoes was in the basement, several feet below a small window. The conditions were unfavorable, but the potatoes would begin to sprout-pale white sprouts, so unlike the healthy green shoots they sent up when planted in the soil in the spring. But these sad, spindly sprouts would grow 2 or 3 feet in length as they reached toward the distant light of the window. The sprouts were, in their bizarre, futile growth, a sort of desperate expression of the directional tendency I have been describing. They would never become plants, never mature, never fulfill their real potential. But under the most adverse circumstances, they were striving to become. Life would not give up, even if it could not flourish. In dealing with clients whose lives have been terribly warped, in working with men and women on the back wards of state hospitals, I often think of those potato sprouts. So unfavorable have been the conditions in which these people have developed that their lives often seem abnormal, twisted, scarcely human. Yet, the directional tendency in them can be trusted. The clue to understanding their behavior is that they are striving, in the only ways that they perceive as available to them, to move toward growth, toward becoming. To healthy persons, the results may seem bizarre and futile, but they are life's desperate attempt to become itself. This potent constructive tendency is an underlying basis of the person-centered approach.

Carl R. Rogers
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