By nature, we are born curious and motivated. Just look at any healthy child and you will notice a self-motivated curiosity with which they explore the world. Children are in fact the epitome of self-motivation. Unfortunately, as we all realize, some things can happen which crush our innate curiosity. Just think of the amount of time you or someone you know may have sat passively in front of a TV, stared blankly from the back of a classroom, or gone through the workweek listlessly gazing at the clock while dreaming of the weekend.
Motivation concerns energy, persistence, and direction. Our level of motivation positively correlates to the time and effort we will spend moving towards, or away, from an object, person, thing, idea, feeling, situation, etc. We know in the workplace motivation is highly prized because of one simple fact; motivation produces, and in terms of creating long lasting positive personal change, motivation is key.
We may think there is only one type of motivation and that we are either motivated or not, but Self-Determination Theory (SDT) divides motivation into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation describes our innate tendency towards curiosity and creativity. It is our willingness to do something simply because we love doing it. We find the activity interesting and enjoyable in and of itself regardless of the outcome. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation always has an external orientation. Intrinsically motivated activities produce excitement and confidence, which translates into inspiration, perseverance, and higher performance over our extrinsically motivated activities.
SDT argues we have three innate psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness, which when met enhance intrinsic motivation, but if thwarted, lowers motivation and even decreases well-being. Competence refers to our need for a sense of strength and ability, while relatedness refers to our need for positive interpersonal connections. Intrinsic motivation is more likely to flourish in environments that are secure and in which we feel interconnected. Researchers have found that facing optimal challenges and receiving feedback free from demeaning evaluations, feedback that contributes to feelings of competence, enhance intrinsic motivation.
However, competency and relatedness without autonomy does not produce intrinsic motivation. Autonomy in this context does not mean independence, but rather that we experience the behavior as being self-authored. In fact, some controversial research suggests that any type of expected tangible reward, or punishment, undermines intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, acknowledgment of feelings and opportunities for self-direction boosts intrinsic motivation because they provide a sense of autonomy.
Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, applies to situations where we perform an activity because of external factors. Extrinsic motivation falls on a continuum somewhere between external at one end and internal at the other. For example, students may do homework because they realize its value in achieving their career or personal goals or they may do it because their parents pressure or bribe them. In each case, they complete the homework but in the former they internalized and integrated the value of the behavior of doing homework while in the latter, their motivation remained external and coerced.
Internalizing refers to “taking in” the value of a behavior while integrating refers to taking it on as our own. Unfortunately, extrinsically motivated behaviors typically are uninteresting and may even be boring, dull, and tedious. Perhaps the main reason we start performing these behaviors is that an important person in our lives modeled or valued the behaviors. This suggests that our need for connectedness is vitally important for internalization. However, the degree of internalization seems related to our perceived competency. We are more likely to adopt behaviors, when we honestly believe we can do them. This suggests that in order to internalize and integrate new behaviors, our environment must support our need for competency, relatedness, and autonomy. An environment of undue control, which offers less then optimal challenges along with a lack of connectedness, will prevent us from internalizing and integrating new positive behaviors.
The challenge for those of us who are parents, teachers, coaches, employers, therapists, or for anyone attempting to nurture healthy behaviors in another, is to help them internalize and integrate new positive behaviors. Fortunately, hypnosis and self-hypnosis helps us create the conditions required for internalization and integration of new positive behaviors. If you would like to learn how hypnosis and self-hypnosis could help you to increase your motivation or would like help creating the conditions to help motivate another, call (805) 637-4263 or email me.