What does it mean to be a fully functioning person?

Fully Functioning Person
image by rawpixel courtesy of Unsplash

If I get up in the morning and do stuff then surely I am functioning?  If I do all the stuff on the list then surely I am fully functioning?

Well, to be frank, it depends entirely on what you have on your list.

A few weeks ago, in this blog, I explained where the name Yellow Dot came from and I talked about the organismic self (cue giggles) and the humanist idea that we are all, at heart, self-actualising beings who want to achieve our full potential.  For Carl Rogers, it is this drive, this growth which makes us fully functioning.

Last week was designated mental health awareness week and I spent a lot of time reading interesting and positive articles about how to tackle the dire state of the nation’s mental health.  Many of them posited the idea that we are too focussed on “having” things to be happy, suggesting that materialism is the root of our poor mental health.  Whilst this is probably true for some people I suspect that, for many more, the problem is a focus on “doing” things in order to be happy.

I talk to clients who are too busy to look after themselves properly, I talk to potential clients who know they need help but are too busy to come to an appointment, I talk to friends who see “self-care” as something else to be added to the to do list – they feel that they are failing if they haven’t squeezed in two trips to the gym, a night out with friends and a soak in the bath.  Whilst these things may be important they don’t, in themselves, add up to a fully functioning person.

A fully functioning person is someone who:

  • Is open to experience, who accepts that some life experiences will be positive and some will be negative and that ALL emotions are valid. Sadness, anger and disappointment are not to be denied or pushed away but need to be felt and processed if we are to grow and develop some sense of fulfilment.
  • Engages with new experiences and new ways of thinking without pre-judging them. This existential way of being allows for fear (it’s ok to be afraid) but does not allow for avoidance.  It involves the ability to immerse yourself fully in the moment.
  • Trusts her/his own instincts.
  • Is creative and brings that creativity into all aspects of life – into problem solving, work, parenting and leisure activities.
  • Takes risks and actively seeks new experiences and challenges.

This list is not designed to add more to your list, it is just challenging you to look at your to do list and see how those activities map onto this list and how these principles can be applied to your life.

I’ll be writing in a little more depth about each of these over the coming weeks but, in the meantime, I would love to hear how you have tackled your own challenges with more creativity or with an open mind, how you have accepted and trusted your feelings or what new experiences this fresh new week brought for you.



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