Self Transcendence > Self-Actualization

David Solomon
2 min readApr 19, 2019


Self Actualization wasn’t at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Self-Transcendence was.

It refers to Peak experiences, flow, and sustained inner peace.

While all of us seek these, do you do so in a structured way? Do you regularly measure which activities, interactions and thought patterns level you up in the hierarchy, and level you down?

We climb ladders rung by rung. By realizing you go up and down the ladder, you shift above guilt, and into empowerment: Simply see where you are, and what the next step is. Teleporting to the top is great when it can happen, but when it can’t, there are always realistic, practical and accessible ways to grow.

“Self-transcendence is, at its core, about transcending (or rising above) the self and relating to that which is greater than the self. In simpler terms, it is the realization that you are one small part of a greater whole, and acting accordingly.”

That which is greater than the self can be a range of things: human beings in general, nature, the universe, divine power, etc. It doesn’t matter what the greater thing is, only that there is something greater than the self.


To the broader world of psychology, this is an expansion beyond narcissism. To spiritual communities, it refers to the continuum of enlightenment.

“According to Maslow, self-transcendence brings the individual what he termed “peak experiences” in which they transcend their own personal concerns and see from a higher perspective.

These experiences often bring strong positive emotions like joy, peace, and a well-developed sense of awareness (Messerly, 2017). Someone who is highly self-transcendent may also experience “plateau experiences” in which they consistently maintain or enter a state of serenity and higher perspective (Messerly, 2017).”

It’s important to work all rungs of the ladder. Dark Gurus arise from focusing exclusively on transcendence and ignoring self esteem, allowing a buried wound to fuel a power trip.

Similarly, not fully feeling Belonging can lead to the desire to build the types of cults that isolate and control people in ways that don’t serve their highest good — or the goods of the greater world.

As you progress on your journey, you might want to keep all these stages in mind. Like the Integral Model, mastery involves integration of all stages — not just hanging out at the highest one to the neglect of all the others.

If you’d like support with your personal and spiritual growth, please contact me through


I love you.

I believe in you.

We are one.


(Quoted text credit the Positive Psychology Program and Courtney Ackerman)