Self-Actualization: Our Culture’s Most Pernicious Lie


“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

Anyone who has taken Psychology 101 has most likely studied Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.”  At the top of his list is the need for self-actualization–the need to achieve one’s potential, to seek self-fulfillment, and to experience the maximum one is capable of experiencing on this earth.

business strategy concept infographic diagram illustration of hierarchy of needs pyramid

business strategy concept infographic diagram illustration of hierarchy of needs pyramid

What is so pernicious about Maslow’s hierarchy is the fact that it sounds so good and so true. After all, who among us does not want to achieve his fullest potential? Who among us does not want to be fulfilled? Who among us does not want to experience the maximum of which we are capable?

So, wherein lies the pernicious lie?

If we look closely, we will see that the word “self” is the focus of Maslow’s theory. Life is all about the self. All about what I can achieve.

All about me!

This way of thinking is diametrically opposed to what Jesus taught: “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Matthew 10:39 TLB).

Those who adhere to Maslow’s theory–and this includes our culture at-large–believe that the self is the center of the universe. For many, there is nothing outside the self, and if there is, it is subject to the self.

Consider “the Force is within you.”  Have you ever stopped to ask “What Force?”

We who follow Yeshua understand exactly what that Force is. It is the force of Satan himself, disgusing himself as an angel of light, something Scripture says he does (2 Corinthians 11:14) and does quite well, I might add.

The Word of God gives us this admonition in Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

How can we know if what we are believing is deception?  There is only one way, and that is to immerse oneself in the Word of God until it transforms our thinking and aligns it with God’s thinking. 

Guarding the heart means protecting it from deception. Deception is another word for the Lie. Satan is doing a good job of convincing our world that the answer to life’s deepest questions lies in the self. But the truth is that the answer to life’s deepest questions can only be found outside the self and only in Jesus Christ.

If you are seeking a better understanding of what is going on in our culture philosophically, socially, and ethically, check out THE TRUTH PROJECT published by Focus on the Family. I highly recommend it.

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Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at  or via one of her social media venues below:

Guard Your Heart!

Shield and SwordsThe heart is the seat of everything that transpires in your life.  By heart, I do not mean your physical heart but, rather, your spiritual heart–that part of you that is the core of your being.

In Proverbs 4:23, Scripture says this about the heart: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Did you notice the words “Above all else”?  This means that nothing is more important in life than guarding your heart.

Okay, so what does it mean to guard your heart?

1) To guard your heart means to protect it from all harm.  What is harmful to the heart? Anything that could cause your heart to become polluted. What causes the heart to become polluted?  Anything that is the opposite of truth and love. What is the opposite of truth and love? The lie and fear.

The lie is the opposite of the truth. The lie destroys our hearts and, by extension, our lives and our relationships. Every problem we are facing has, at its root, a lie. Usually, we are not aware of the lie, but, nonetheless, it is wreaking havoc in our lives. The lie is often hidden in a belief that is contrary to truth. The lie reveals itself in the form of  negative thoughts, negative emotions, and negative actions. 

By the same token, fear is the opposite of love. Fear also destroys our hearts and, by extension, our lives and our relationships. Fear manifests itself in anger, rage, depression, criticism, shame, and guilt.

Bottom-line, anything that does not line up with truth and anything that does not line up with love will pollute your heart. Truth and love: These are the indicators of a healthy heart. The lie and fear: These are the indicators of an unhealthy heart.

2) To guard your heart , then, means knowing what truth and love are. How can you know what truth and love are?  Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6). To know Jesus is to know Truth. How can you know Jesus? By studying His Word.  Jesus and His Word (the Bible) are one and the same. As you study God’s Word, you will get to know, apprehend, and comprehend Jesus.And as you get to know, apprehend, and comprehend Jesus, you will get to know, apprehend, and comprehend Truth. In like manner, Scripture tells us that “God is love” (I John 4:8).  Jesus is God; therefore, He is Love. As you get to know Jesus, you will get to understand the true meaning of love. By making Jesus the center of our lives we can guard our hearts.

3) To guard your heart means to keep it full of truth and love so that your every thought, word, and deed will be motivated by truth and love.  When your thoughts, words, and deeds are motivated by truth and love, you will experience the good life for which God created you. You will then know what it means to be joyful, content, and fulfilled.

Remember this: The lie is the ultimate enemy of the heart. Fear flows out of the lie. Love flows out of truth. Keep truth and love as the guiding principles of your life, and you will succeed in guarding your heart.

Questions: Have you, like me, struggled with guarding your heart? What practical steps do you take to guard your heart? You may leave a comment by clicking here.

Copyright 2015 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD. All Rights Reserved.
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The Two Trees

God placed two trees in the Garden of Eden. One was the Tree of Life; the other, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God forbade Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because eating from that tree would bring death.

We all know the story. Adam and Eve chose not to take God at His Word. So, they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the fruit they ate produced after its own kind. From that moment, our first parents experienced evil and learned that knowing both good and evil makes for a very difficult life, if only by virtue of knowing the huge contrast, let alone experiencing it.

Imagine not having the knowledge of evil. What would that be like? Well, just look at a little child. He has no knowledge of evil until he experiences it. He is innocent. This is the reason that Jesus said we must become like little children to  enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We must be innocent of evil.

Being innocent of evil means eating from the Tree of Life. Jesus is the Tree of Life. As we accept Him and abide in Him, we will experience life as God originally intended it to be.  Innocent and pure. Holy and joy-filled.

Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All rights reserved.