Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 31 of 153 
Next page End Contents 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36  

Cognitive skills--"I'll develop some self-talk that should reduce
my fears and improve my batting." 
Gain knowledge--"I'll learn more about exercising to prevent
my back from hurting." 
Courage--"I'll practice batting against a very fast pitcher for
two weeks, then I'll try out for the school team." 
Social support--"I'll talk to the coach about batting; I'll make
friends with guys/girls on the team." 
Positive objectives are usually more motivating than negative
ones, e.g. "I want to bat over .300" is a better goal than "I'd like to be
less scared of the ball." Certainly, the more appealing goals are
something you want, not something imposed on you. Mastery-oriented
people, realizing success depends on their skills, become more self-
directed, work harder, achieve a higher level of performance, and get
more enjoyment out of the activity. In contrast, according to Murphy
(1995), "performance"-oriented people are more likely to strive for
attention and view beating others as a "life or death" matter (in this
case, failure is interpreted as "I don't have the ability" and interest
This book addresses many different aspects of psychological
motivation. The needs for food, water, air, sleep, shelter, and even sex
are always there but they don't usually dominate our lives. Our social-
psychological needs, instead, dominate most of our lives, such as
attention, companionship, support, love, social image or status,
material things, power and so on. Also, psychological or cognitive
factors, in addition to goals, strongly influence our motivation and
attitudes, such as self-confidence in our ability as a change agent
(self-efficacy and attribution theory). If we see ourselves as able and
in control of our lives, then we are much more likely to truly and
responsibly take control. 
Sometimes, however, a person's motivation seems excessive. Our
goals may be out of reach but we still strive mightily for the goal (as in
the movie Rudy). Exceedingly able people are occasionally extremely
demanding and self-critical of themselves. Between 1987 and 1990,
Steffi Graf was ranked the #1 tennis player in the world; she won 97%
of her matches. Yet, she was unhappy with her performance 97% of
the time. She was so self-demanding that during practice she
frequently had an outburst of self-criticism and broke down in tears.
Surely intense motivation and excessive anxiety can sometimes be
emotionally detrimental. 
To be effective our motivation has to be focused on important
tasks. As Covey (1989) cogently illustrates, most of us spend a lot of
time doing things that seem urgent at the moment but are really not
important in terms of our major mission in life. Also, we waste quite a
bit of our life doing things that are unimportant and not urgent, such
as reading trash novels, watching mindless TV, etc. So, assuming we
do what we are motivated to do, then our motivations are frequently
misguided. Covey also emphasizes that our efficiency could be greatly
Previous page Top Next page

« Back