Self Actualization : A Struggle For Identity

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Self-actualization: A Struggle for Identity According to Psychologist Abraham Maslow in “Self-actualization and Beyond,” self-actualization is a process in which one identifies his inner ability to do something productive. Once this inner talent comes out, that’s when a person actualizes himself. He believes that every individual self-actualizes, and while doing so one might make many wrong choices. Sonny and his older brother are faced with several obstacles while being on a journey to self-actualization in “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin. However, these obstacles not only come from their surroundings, but within themselves as well. The narrator himself and his younger brother, Sonny struggle with, and gradually develop their own…show more content…
He continues his journey to become a jazz musician despite of all the negativity around him. This is another point where we see Sonny getting closer to self-actualization. Maslow claims, “You cannot choose wisely for a life unless you dare to listen to yourself, yourself, at each moment in life, and to say calmly, ‘No, I don’t like such and such’” (113). One must listen to their inner voices in order to be self-actualized. The opinion of others do matter, but not to a point where one loses his own ability to establish his own identity. When the narrator tries to approach Sonny into being something other than a musician, Sonny replies, “But I don’t seem to be able to make you understand is that it’s the only thing I want to do” (262). Even though Sonny’s brother wants the best for him, he doesn’t realize that he is too controlling and he should let Sonny do what he intends to do. Just like Sonny, the narrator too struggles to establish his own identity. According to Maslow “when we are in doubt we are not honest” and if one is not honest, he will not be able to take responsibility for his actions, and the only way to self-actualize is by taking responsibility (112). Even though the narrator is quite successful in his life, working as a math teacher and having his own family, he also feels encaged in Harlem where he spent his entire
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