Affection, Awareness and Awe …the 3 Steps to Self Love

Affection, Awareness and Awe

– 3 Steps to Self Love –


Affection or fondness is a “disposition or rare state of mind or body” that is often associated with a feeling or type of love.

It has given rise to a number of branches of philosophy and psychology concerning emotion, disease, influence, state of being, and state of mind.

“Affection” is popularly used to denote a ‘feeling or type of love’, amounting to more than goodwill or friendship. Writers on ethics generally use the word to refer to distinct states of feeling, both lasting and spasmodic. Some contrast it with passion as being free from the distinctively sensual element.

Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human’s or an animal’s perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event.

Awe is an emotion comparable to wonder but less joyous, and more fearful or respectful. Awe is defined in Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of emotions as a combination of surprise and fear. One dictionary definition is “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like: in awe of God; in awe of great political figures”.

Another dictionary definition is a “mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might: We felt awe when contemplating the works of Bach.”

In general, awe is directed at objects considered to be more powerful than the subject, such as the breaking of huge waves on the base of a rocky cliff, the thundering roar of a massive waterfall. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Grand Canyon, or the vastness of open space in the cosmos are all places or concepts which would typically inspire awe. Once you can activate this same ‘feeling of awe’ about yourself and the work that you contribute to this world, you have arrived!

Psychologists have noted that awe can inspire. When asked to describe themselves while viewing an awe-inspiring sight (such as a dinosaur skeleton), test subjects were more likely to describe themselves in oceanic terms (e.g. “I am an inhabitant of the planet Earth”) as opposed to more specific terms (e.g. “I have blonde hair”).

Awe can have a powerful effect; the 18th century Irish philosopher Edmund Burke notes that “it may be observed, that young persons, little acquainted with the world, and who have not been used to approach men in power, are commonly struck with an awe which takes away the free use of their faculties.”

The 3 Primary Steps


1]   AFFECTION TO SELF – Fulfill all your personal ‘needs’

Maslow has set up a hierarchy of five levels of basic needs.

  • Physiological Needs – These are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the physiological ones would come first in the person’s search for satisfaction.
  • Safety Needs – When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviors, the needs for security can become active. Adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganization in the social structure (such as widespread rioting). Children often display the signs of insecurity and the need to be safe.
  • Needs of Love, Affection and Belonging[ness] – When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs for love, affection and belonging[ness] can emerge. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging.
  • Needs for Esteem – When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels self-confident and valuable as a person in the world. When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.
  • Needs for Self-Actualization – When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.” (purpose).  “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” These needs make themselves felt in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something, in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved or accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it is very easy to know what the person is restless about. It is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization.


2]   AWARENESS OF SELF – Fulfill a healthy sense of self esteem

The first step to healthy self-esteem is becoming knowledgeable about oneself; this means understanding who you are, what your beliefs about life are, and understanding what you have in common with others and what your differences are. Being aware of how you can maintain a sense of self while also “recognizing the natural interdependence of relationships” is another important part of gaining self-esteem; it is important to see things from the perspectives of others, co-operate, and expressing emotions in an appropriate way (Plummer, 2005, p.21).

Self-expression is another area of self-esteem that must be learned in order to gain a healthy self-esteem because it address how to communicate with others in a way that is productive; it also addresses developing your own style and “celebrating the unique ways in which we each express who we are” (Plummer, 2005, p.22). In order to achieve healthy self-esteem self-confidence is of the highest value; having self-confidence means recognizing that your opinions, actions, and ideas are of value, and knowing that you are capable of dealing with conflicts and challenges.

Self-confidence deals with knowing you are capable of making decisions and being confident in your own abilities.

Self-awareness is one of the hardest steps to healthy self-esteem for me because it requires one to deal with emotions as they arise, and be focused on now instead of dwelling on the past. Self-awareness is a difficult step, but it is also empowering because it gives you the ability to realize that you can control who you are and what you do. All of this is not easy, but  can be achieved, and it is important to realize which of these steps need help in order to improve the self-esteem of oneself and others.


3] AWE OF SELF – Reaching a state of ‘self actualization’

A basic definition from a typical college textbook defines self-actualization according to Maslow simply as “the full realization of one’s potential”.

  • Maslow explicitly defines self-actualization to be “the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”
  • Maslow used the term self-actualization to describe a desire, not a driving force, that could lead to realizing one’s capabilities.
  • Maslow did not feel that self-actualization determined one’s life; rather, he felt that it gave the individual a desire, or motivation to achieve budding ambitions.
  • Maslow’s usage of the term is now popular in modern psychology when discussing personality from the humanistic approach.

A self-actualizer is a person who is living creatively and fully using his or her potentials. In his studies, Maslow found that self-actualizers share similarities. Whether famous or unknown, educated or not, rich or poor, self-actualizers tend to fit the following profile.

  • Efficient perceptions of reality. Self-actualizers are able to judge situations correctly and honestly. They are very sensitive to the fake and dishonest.
  • Comfortable acceptance of self, others, nature. Self-actualizers accept their own human nature with all its flaws. The shortcomings of others and the contradictions of the human condition are accepted with humor and tolerance.
  • Spontaneity. Maslow’s subjects extended their creativity into everyday activities. Actualizers tend to be unusually alive, engaged, and spontaneous.
  • Task centering. Most of Maslow’s subjects had a mission to fulfill in life or some task or problem outside of themselves to pursue. Humanitarians such as Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa represent this quality.
  • Autonomy. Self-actualizers are free from reliance on external authorities or other people. They tend to be resourceful and independent.
  • Continued freshness of appreciation. The self-actualizer seems to constantly renew appreciation of life’s basic goods. A sunset or a flower will be experienced as intensely time after time as it was at first. There is an “innocence of vision”, like that of an artist or child.
  • Fellowship with humanity. Maslow’s subjects felt a deep identification with others and the human situation in general.
  • Profound interpersonal relationships. The interpersonal relationships of self-actualizers are marked by deep loving bonds.
  • Comfort with solitude. Despite their satisfying relationships with others, self-actualizing persons value solitude and are comfortable being alone.[13]
  • Non-hostile sense of humor. This refers to the wonderful capacity to laugh at oneself. It also describes the kind of humor a man like Abraham Lincoln had. Lincoln probably never made a joke that hurt anybody. His wry comments were gentle proddings of human shortcomings.
  • Peak experiences. All of Maslow’s subjects reported the frequent occurrence of peak experiences (temporary moments of self-actualization). These occasions were marked by feelings of ecstasy, harmony, and deep meaning. Self-actualizers reported feeling at one with the universe, stronger and calmer than ever before, filled with light, beautiful and good, and so forth.

FREEDOM: self-actualizers feel safe, not anxious, accepted, loved, loving, and alive.

The result of melding the above three states of mind in the self mode, a path to the development of a healthy self image.

Hand in glove, one of the most critical results of a healthy self image will be the development of a healthy self esteem, offering you a new freedom that you may have never before enjoyed through a new found self love.

When you reach this stage in your development, you will be in ‘AWE of SELF’, realizing that you are a capable, wonderful human being that is born with a purpose and is willing to work towards that goal with a smile carried inside your heart.
Take Action – YOU are Worth it !!!

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