What is critical in the field of psychology is to never treat the symptoms of a disorder in isolation. Instead, you need to look below the surface to truly understand the source of the issue.
This approach to understanding human behaviour applies not only in the therapist’s office but also in life, especially when it comes to figuring out why some people are motivated to peak levels of performance and transformation, while others are not.
Attribution Theory and Human Behaviour
Using Attribution Theory, I can tell a lot about someone by the way they interpret the events that happen in their lives. In particular, the explanatory style they use in describing their setbacks and challenges. This gives me insight into how motivated they are to create lasting change versus staying stuck in destructive habits, situations, or relationships.
Opportunity for Learning and Growth
Individuals with a motivated mindset view negative circumstances as an opportunity for growth and expansion. They consider the opportunity as a jumping-off point for learning about themselves and the people around them. Rather than point the finger at the crisis, they use it as an opportunity to look within and take accountability for their contribution to the challenge at hand.
Problems are viewed as temporary in time, limited in scope, and universal to everyone around them. In contrast, individuals with a de-motivated mindset see every hardship as permanent, pervasive, and personal.
Is it possible to change one’s mindset? Absolutely!
|Setback||De-Motivated Mindset||Motivated Mindset||Takeaway|
|Laid off from a job||Permanent in Time I will never get another job. No one will want to hire someone who was laid off. They will assume that I was fired and never even consider me for an interview.||Temporary in Time This is a new challenge for me. But it doesn’t need to be the end of me or my career. I am going to call up everyone I know and get real with them. Ask them when and if they have ever been laid off from a job and ask them how long they were laid off. And equally how it changed the trajectory of their careers. Did they have regrets, or did the setback lead them down a different, unexpected, exciting path?||Motivation Mantra Embrace The Unknown|
|Failed out of first year university||Pervasive in Scope I am a loser in every area of my life. There is not one thing I am good at so why bother applying myself at school or anywhere else in my life?||Limited in Scope When I am honest with myself, I realize that I was never interested in this program in the first place and I only chose it to please my parents. In truth, I am amazing at many different parts of my life, especially as a host at my part-time job. I love making people smile and come alive when they arrive at the restaurant. I am also great at cooking, helping my grandparents out, and taking care of my fitness. Perhaps I should choose another program, like something in hospitality, where I get to engage directly with the customer.||Motivation Mantra Know Thyself|
|Suddenly single||Personal to Me I will be single forever so why would I even bother going out to meet new people and start a brand-new life? Especially since I am the only person in the world that is single. Everybody that I meet and see online is coupled up.||Universal to Everyone This is the first time in a very long time that I have had this much time to myself. And knowing this, I am going to use this time to join a tennis league that I have always wanted to try and expand my interests in my local community. I am not the only person in this world that is single and has gone through a breakup. This will be a great opportunity for me to lean in and ask people about their time being single.||Motivation Mantra I am awesome!|
Dr. Andrea Dinardo is a psychology professor and keynote speaker with expertise in stress, resilience, and mental health. Visit DrAndreaDinardo.com to learn more about her speaking services and leadership programs.
Disclaimer. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The individuals depicted are fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental.