February 11, 2013

One of our purposes in Neuro-Semantics is to enable ourselves and others to actualize, or make real, our highest and best.  Highest refers to your highest visions about life, your values for how to live, and meanings for making life meaningful.  Best refers to your top performances, your best skills and competencies, and taking your actions so that they reflect you when you are in the zone of performance.  Yet to do that with mindfulness requires that we be able to assess where we are now and where we are as we progress, in other words, assessment of our self-actualization.  And that means creating benchmarks for self-actualizing development.

The first attempt to do this occurred in 1964 when Everett Shostrum met with Abraham Maslow and took the 15-17 characteristics of self-actualizing people, which had been discovered in over 20 years of modeling, and began to create behavioral indicators of those characteristics.  The result?  The POI, the Personal Orientation Inventory, a questionnaire of 150 force-choice questions around 10 subsidiary distinctions of living the self-actualizing life.  The POI was, and continues to be today, a well developed instrument for measurement and assessment.  And if it weren’t so expensive, I’d been promoting it in all we do in Neuro-Semantics, but alas, to take it and use it costs $128 for each person, each time.

When I complained about that some years ago (2009), Tim Goodenough challenged me to begin creating our own assessment scale.  In January 2010, Tim and I completed a prototype and ran it with the Leadership Team of Neuro-Semantics.  Since that time, we refined it, I wrote a description of it, and lo and behold, we have our very own Neuro-Semantic Self-Actualization Assessment Scale.  You can now find it on the website:

This Assessment Scale invites you to look at your driving needs— those lower and higher needs that drive your neurology, physiology, and psychological states of mind and emotion.  For each of the four lower needs and for the fifth level of self-actualization needs, you will find seven or more distinctions.  The scale invites you to gauge yourself in terms of how well are you adequately meeting your needs. Are you just “getting by?”  Then you would put a check in the middle.  If you are not getting by very well, then you will be to the left in the red zone.  If you are more than just getting by, you are thriving or optimizing, you will be to the right of the center line, in the green zone.

Getting by refers to being able to fulfil the need so that the drive goes away.  That’s how the lower needs work.  When adequate gratified by true-satisfiers (things that truly correspond to and fit the need), then the disequilibrium, the inner tension, the driving urge reduces and then vanishes from awareness.  That will be a first sign of using a true satisfier.  Another sign: energy!  Vitality.  You will feel good and be able to focus on the next-level needs.

If you are not using true-satisfiers, but false-satisfiers, then the drive doesn’t go away.  In fact, the drive for that need, whether food, drink, shelter, money, sex, etc. will dominate more and more.  You may become obsessive about it, and then compulsive in your actions.  False-satisfiers and false-beliefs about our needs, for us humans, will create neurotic needs.  We will semantically load the need with meanings, understandings, beliefs, etc. that the need cannot bear and the result we will become obsessive-compulsive about the need or some false-satisfier (drugs, money, gambling, etc.) and the false-gratification makes things worse.

Now you can assess where you are and how you are dealing with, handling, coping, and hopefully mastering your innate driving needs.  The lower needs are “animal” needs because the higher intelligent social animals have those needs as well— the need not only for survival and safety, but for connection, bonding, belong, and for recognition of their place in a group.  The mechanism that drives these lower needs is deficiency and so Maslow designated them, the D-needs.  These are the needs that do not go away until fulfilled.  And when fulfilled, they go away.

The higher or self-actualization needs are those which are with us from the beginning— in nascent form– but which become fully present to us as we fulfill the lower needs.  These are the uniquely human needs.  These are our needs for knowledge, meaning, understanding, beauty, order, mathematics, excellence, fairness, justice, contribution, making a difference, giving love, etc.  The mechanism governing these needs is abundance and being-ness.  Abundance means that when you gratify them, they grow.  They do not go away, they do the opposite— they expand and become fuller.  Being-ness means that unlike the lower needs that are instrumental needs, means to an end, these are non-instrumental, they are ends (not means).  These are for living in, for being, they are valid and satisfying in and of themselves.

So where are you?  Go and take the assessment.  It will take 30 minutes when you do it the first time and then you can print off the results.  Each time you do it thereafter, will go quicker and quicker as you get more acquainted with it.  If you need a Meta-Coach or a Neuro-Semanticist to work through the completed form with you— check out Trainers on and Meta-Coaches on

It is this assessment that we use in the Unleashing Vitality training and the next time I will do that training and all of the other three Self-Actualization trainings will be May in  Rio de Janiero, Brazil (May 25 to 31 and June 1-3). If you are interested, contact: Dr. Jairo Mancilha —