The actual self is not viewed as a special part of a person, but rather as the whole person considered from a particular point of view. When the self-concept accurately depicts the actual self, it is said to be congruent. When it inaccurately depicts the actual self, it is said to be incongruent. When people’s self-concepts are in tune with their actual selves, they are free to let their human potential manifest itself. The Health Guardian can facilitate the movement toward congruence, which is a move to a more fully functioning biologically and psychologically healthy person.
The full meaning of the term “human being” will be clearer if the reader will keep in mind that “being” is a participle, a verb form implying that someone is in the process of being something. The significant tense for human beings is thus the future—that is to say, the critical question is what I am pointing toward, becoming, what I will be in the immediate future.
From the humanistic perspective, the goal of human existence is to fully actualize the potential inherent in one’s humanness. The Health Guardian gains access to this potential when the self-concept allows its presence to develop into awareness. Humanists emphasize that the actual self has to appear or be accurately depicted in conscious awareness if it is to affect behavior.
When conscious thought displays the actual self, a person is most free to become fully functioning. The person is able to make choices that express his or her authentic values and to have available the undistorted full range of his or her life possibilities. The ideal, fully functioning person is in a state of congruence—that is, no disharmony exists between the self-concept and the actualizing tendency of the actual self.
In life, a person does not achieve this absolute state. Actualization is not a static and stable condition that one becomes. Authentically, being human involves the movement toward, not the achievement of, the full actualization of the potential that is inherent in human be-ing.
The Health Guardian conceptualizes therapy as an engagement to match the story of the self-concept with the authentic story. There are three principle elements of the humanistic perspective used to approach mental wellness:
- First, it emphasizes the self as being, or becoming, as in humane be-ing. The self is always in process or in flux, ever changing rather than stable.
- Second, the self is experienced; it is not merely a cognitive construct. There is an actual self and that this actual self can be experienced directly.
- Third, the actual self is an agent, or has the ability to act.