Maslow’s theory of achieving self-actualization can prove a bit daunting to those individuals who experience difficulty in meeting esteem needs. Given that for many, self-esteem is based upon the approval and acceptance of others, the esteem rung becomes a stumbling-block to self-actualization (Feste & Anderson, 1995). Obtaining or achieving approval from bosses, colleagues, or personal relationships is often a difficult endeavor. Self-approval and acceptance are self-empowering and can also be healthier to our self-esteem at the end of the day than meeting the proverbial check-off boxes of others.
Self-Motivating or Self-Demoting?
For most, meeting professional and work-related objectives is as simple as following protocol. Tasks are completed each day according to instruction and for most that is the best that can be accomplished. When outcomes are positive, supervisors may or may not recognize or reward efforts; however, it is inevitable that when outcomes are less than satisfactory, displeasure over performance will be communicated either verbally or in writing. For those who are intrinsically motivated, the mere fact of a job well-done is enough, and the intrinsically motivated do not dwell on the lack of accolades from supervisors or colleagues (Hodgins, Brown, & Carver, 2007). Alternatively, those individuals who lack that level of self-motivation take a lack of positive feedback personally and critique of any kind tears away further at their self-esteem. Where one derives motivation is often inherent, but that does not mean it cannot be redirected.
Revising Negative Self-Narratives
If called upon to write a bio for your company’s staff webpage, how difficult would it be? If it is difficult to write objectively about accomplishments, it might be that your self-narrative has been written by negativity left over from your childhood and school years (Hodgins, Brown, & Carver, 2007). It should not take years of therapy to rescript that negativity; however, for many, it takes just that. No amount of therapy will help the individual to change a negative self-image if friends, family members, co-workers serve as that individual’s mirror. The only way to correct the distorted image is to actively change the narrative, and in order to do that, the voice behind the dictation must be changed. Now, back to the bio. If called upon to write your bio, how would you present yourself? Challenge yourself to actually put it into writing. Seeing who you really are in black and white can be of immense help to challenging negativity.
Flipping the Script
It may be time to set a course toward flipping the script and how others see you. If able, take a class, obtain a new degree or certification. If this is not an option, take a Yoga class, or some other type of self-improvement course. Until you begin to see yourself through positive eyes, you really cannot expect others to change their view of you. Begin to speak to others as if they DO respect you. How we carry ourselves has a great deal to do with what others will unload upon us. Project the image you wish people to see. The act of empowerment is two-fold, power that is directed inward must have an originating outward source, if the outward source is disempowering, it may be time to change the source.
To learn more about finding your purpose, to finding your path towards a meaningful life, visit Think Big Therapy; our purpose is to help you discover your purpose.
Feste, C., & Anderson, R. M. (1995). Empowerment: from philosophy to practice. Patient Education and Counseling, 26(1), 139–144. https://doi.org/10.1016/0738-3991(95)00730-N
Hodgins, H. S., Brown, A. B., & Carver, B. (2007). Autonomy and control motivation and self-esteem. Self and Identity, 6(2–3), 189–208. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298860601118769
Yuan, Y., & Hickman, R. (2016). “Autopsychography” as a Form of Self-Narrative Inquiry. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 0022167816661059. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167816661059