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Intrinsic Motivation: Becoming Who You Want to Be

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Writer, Lecturer, and Philosopher

Recovery is both difficult and rewarding. Much of our success can depend upon our motivations to begin seeking growth and change. We may have wanted to change our addictive behaviors for some time now and recently made the first step towards growth.

We may have been encouraged by family members to make a positive change. Those who care for us want to see us happy and healthy. They know that we deserve better for ourselves. We know that our loved ones also deserve the best version of ourselves.

Staying motivated during recovery can be a challenge. We will need to make changes that may be difficult. We may need to abandon old habits and build new skills to better cope with the stressors of life. When we are motivated from within ourselves, or intrinsically motivated, we may be more successful in our recovery.

Positive Feelings and Personal Initiatives

While many of us may have had others urge us to seek recovery from our addictions, we are the ones who have to make the change. No one can recover for us. To paraphrase the opening quote, who we decide to become will determine who we will be!

We must make this decision, even if others are giving us feedback and advice. When we take the initiative to make positive changes, we will be motivating ourselves to seek what makes us feel good. We consider what we enjoy doing or what inspires us and grow by creating a positive feedback loop.

We seek growth and change simply because these things make us feel good. Intrinsic motivation is our internal reward system that reinforces things we like or enjoy. The rewards are internal, meaning that the activities and actions make us feel happy and content without an external reward. When we are intrinsically motivated, our reward is the positive feeling we get from engaging in a task or activity.

External Rewards Versus Internal Rewards

During recovery, we will often be rewarded more internally than externally. External rewards are things like getting a paycheck or a bonus at work. External rewards can also be trophies for winning a sports tournament or medals for participating in a foot race.

Motivations from external rewards, however, can be beyond our control or only received when we meet the expectations of others. While external rewards can help us stay motivated, internal rewards ultimately drive our self-improving behavior and push us to challenge ourselves.

We may play a sport or run a race because the activity feels good to us. Trophies and medals may be a bonus, however, they are not the overall motivator. Some external rewards may be necessary to keep us motivated for things that we must do, like our jobs.

Many of us would be hard-pressed to say that we would continue with our jobs without a paycheck! Intrinsic motivation, however, may guide us toward goals for completing our jobs with quality for our self-satisfaction. The pride we feel at the end of a hard day’s work can be a reward that helps us remain in our careers.

Recovery and Intrinsic Motivation: The Bigger Picture

Moving forward and achieving recovery goals are not often met with external rewards. We are unlikely to get a paycheck for becoming a better person. No one will pay us for achieving our self-rewarding goals or for engaging in self-care acts.

Recovery involves looking at the bigger picture and motivating ourselves for taking steps forward for our betterment. We will be motivated by our needs to improve and change our lives for the better. We will be able to look ourselves in the mirror, knowing that we did our best and made positive changes.

While we may feel challenged and feel like giving up, intrinsic motivations will help us maintain the course of our recovery. Self-directed and individualistic recovery plans will feel good to us and will satisfy our expectations. When we seek growth and change, the bigger picture matters more than the external rewards, as those will come and go throughout.

When we feel good about ourselves and the changes we made in our recovery, we will continue to move forward in positive ways. We will continue to excite ourselves by achieving what we did not think was possible before. By building a positive feedback loop within ourselves, we engage in our recovery journey. We can become the person we were meant to be!

Are you doing the best that you can? Have you achieved success in fulfilling the expectations of others while feeling empty inside? You may not have felt personally rewarded by fulfilling the expectations of others without thinking about what is important to you. You may never have thought about doing things for no other reason than they feel good for you. When beginning recovery from addictions, we may have been encouraged by others to seek help and care programs. We may feel like we are only doing so to satisfy the needs of others. The people in your life who care for you want to see you happy. Finding happiness can only be determined on your terms. When you chase only external rewards, you may feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied. By looking at the bigger picture of improving for yourself, recovery will become rewarding for its own sake. Enlightened Solutions understands the importance of intrinsic motivation in recovery. Call us today at (833) 801-5483 to seek care for you or a loved one!

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