Psychology of Motivation

Are you motivated from within, or from your surroundings? Are you selfish or selfless? Independent or dependent? Egotistical or altruistic?

As humans, we’re all motivated. We all have ambitions, interests. We all drive towards a goal or two. But what fuels that ambition? Is it our own sense of self-worth, or the environment that shapes us? No human is exclusively motivated by either or, however usually we can say we’re mostly motivated by one. I’m more of an intrinsic than an extrinsic person; I find personal value in all of my actions and use that knowledge as fuel. I try to find some sort of positive outcome from every situation, every action, every behavior. That motivates me, but not just that. Other things, such as my surroundings, outside influences, family, friends, all take a part.

To say you’re more intrinsically motivated than extrinsically, or  vice versa, takes great amounts of introspection. Look at yourself, look at your actions. For example, look at your choices in life and what basis you have for choosing one way over another. Did you dress formally to that one dinner because your best friend said so? Or did you dress casually for the occasion because you weren’t in a serious, formal mood? The latter choice was motivated by yourself; the former, motivated by others, in this case your friend. One quick look at your life choices can help you identify your stance on this spectrum.

There is no right or wrong; some people are more self-motivated than others, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re more intrinsic than extrinsic. There are benefits to both, you see.

The intrinsic person relies on their gut intuition and instincts. A wrong intuition may blindly lead one down a path one would otherwise not wish to take. However, the extrinsic person is susceptible. When one person wishes to manipulate another, the extrinsic person is always the first to believe them. There are difficulties in being both, but, luckily, none of us are exclusively one. In the majority of time we may easily see when our intuition leads us in the wrong direction. Also, the extrinsic person may readily see  when another is manipulating him or her. These aren’t faults that will always appear.

If you’re more motivated from within, from yourself, you’re like me. You’re a more personal person. You like to do things for yourself. You find purpose and reason where they would otherwise not be found by the extrinsic person. If you wish to be different, to stand out, to make a stand, to take chances, risks, even though others say otherwise, you’re more intrinsic. Usually, the more rational thinkers are intrinsic. However, there are exceptions to every rule. You are independent. You believe in yourself, and that’s what matters most.

If you’re more motivated by others, by your surroundings, by your environment, you’re a people person, most likely. You understand what other people want or don’t want, like or dislike. You’re empathetic. You can see their emotions. Usually, the more emotional person is extrinsic. If you wish to belong, if you rely on others, follow the crowd and all their hectic fads, listen to your peers more than yourself; if you value tradition, family, religion, spirituality; if you join groups, help others, and value safety and security, you’re most likely extrinsically motivated.  

If you follow advice, you listen well to others, and at times listen to yourself as well; if you value tradition and also the new frontier; if you hang around with friends, but also value alone time; if you are emotional, empathetic, understandable, but sometimes a bit stubborn, you’re human because all in all we’re motivated by both. No one is absolutely intrinsic, and no one is absolutely extrinsic. There are certain strengths and weaknesses to both sides of the spectrum, and neither is correct over the other.