Motivation in its most basic form is our desire to do something, to do anything. There are many psychological theories regarding motivation and several others that can be applied to motivation. Many of us are motivated toward things we view as positive such as planning a vacation or a celebration. Whereas, other activities, such as cleaning the bathroom or walking the dog in a snow storm are less desirable activities and that may influence our motivation, or lack of motivation.
People are motivated in different ways; two common forces that influence motivation are intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is an internal desire to do something regardless of a reward or punishment. Extrinsic motivation is a desire to do something based on an external reward or punishment. For many years, researchers believed that intrinsic motivation is the better of the two motivational forces. However, there has been conflict within the research community for many years over the idea that these two areas encompass all of the forces of motivation as well as the idea that intrinsic motivation is head and shoulders above extrinsic motivation. Ultimately people are motivated in different ways and by different things. One is not necessarily better than the other and each of us can be motivated by either force depending on the situation. The important thing is that we are motivated.
According to Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, we are motivated to satisfy our needs. All of our behavior is motivated by needs that are not met. Once we satisfy one need, we find another need to focus on, depending on our priorities. Maslow developed a five stage hierarchy of needs. When a lower need is met, we are no longer motivated for that particular need and we become motivated for a higher level need. Higher needs only become important when the lower needs are met. If you are having trouble paying rent and you are worried about being evicted, it is unlikely you are concerned with personal growth as you have basic needs that are unmet.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:
1. Physiological Needs: These are basic needs and lowest on the hierarchy. These include food, water, shelter, sleep, air, etc. the things that are needed for basic survival.
2. Safety: Safety needs encompass feeling safe personally, financially as well as health and wellness. Having a sense of stability in your life.
3. Love - Belonging: An overall feeling of belonging. Having the following relationships: work, family, intimate and friendships. Having a strong support system which includes feeling and giving love to others. Loneliness and anxiety can be attributed to this level in the hierarchy as we may not feel as though we belong or are loved.
4. Esteem: This stage involves self confidence and feeling recognized by others. Feeling that you have value and you are contributing to society, work and family.
5. Self Actualization: This is when you have realized and reached your full potential. Our behavior in this stage is driven by desire for personal growth and self fulfillment. This is the highest need and the most difficult to achieve.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is driven by a deficit in one of the first four levels. The final need of self actualization is driven by desire to reach our potential. We must master the first four levels of the hierarchy before we can achieve self actualization.
Disclaimer: This blog is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant as therapy or a replacement for treatment.
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Dr. Deb is a successful Psychologist who practices in New York City. She is an Anxiety Specialist who works with adolescents and adults providing both individual and couples counseling.
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Debra O'Shea, Psy.D PLLC
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