How can I shift my sense of identity from exterior to interior?

Lisa Oz
Health Education

Shifting your sense of identity from your exterior to your interior self is anything but easy. Generally it involves struggle, pain, and loss. The false self needs to die to let the inner self be born, and this death can be as traumatic as any physical death. But it's precisely the demise of what's on the surface that allows our essence to be revealed. This is the path that all the great religions speak of. In Buddhism it's described as letting go of attachment. Kabbalah uses the example of clearing the vessel so that the light can shine through. In Christianity, Jesus explains it in metaphor, saying, "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. ( John 12:24)" It's through this seeming death that our true life is able to emerge.

Some individuals participate in activity for the sheer fun, pleasure and enjoyment of it. They are motivated by skill improvement, the inherent challenge and the achievement of personal goals. These people are motivated intrinsically (internally). They are involved because they love it. Alternatively, people who are extrinsically (externally) motivated may participate for social approval, material rewards and social status.

In extrinsic motivation the theory is, rewarding a behavior increases the probability that the behavior will be repeated and punishing a behavior decreases the possibility that it will be repeated.  However, once a need is satisfied, it is no longer a goal and loses its power to reward.  The more extrinsic rewards a person gets, the less need there is for the same type of reward.

In intrinsic motivation a person participates in activity for the sheer joy of participating, experiences that joy and the motive to participate again is reinforced. People are intrinsically motivated in particular to do something they like. For example, if a person really likes tennis she will be more intrinsically motivated to participate.

It’s always best to find activities that someone likes so they are intrinsically motivated. If someone doesn’t have an intrinsic orientation then it can be helpful to use extrinsic rewards to develop intrinsic motivation, but the rewards can not be excessive, controlling or manipulative and should be contingent on accomplishment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.