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Stress Management for Living, Teaching, & Parenting

Autonomy and Motivation

Autonomy is a key driver of human behavior in traditional American culture. The most successful people are autonomous and are able to handle stress successfully.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs referred to autonomy as the level of “self-actualization.” My Hierarchy of Social Development refers to this as Level D, Democracy—taking the initiative to do something that is right regardless of social pressures.

People who only reach Level C, (external motivation) on the Hierarchy of Social Development will never be autonomous because they rely on external motivational sources such as seeking the approval of others and the desire to fit in and be liked by others.

Autonomous people realize that the inner satisfaction received by Level D (internal motivation) is far more satisfying than any external reward.

Tip: Ask yourself if your motivation is that of pleasing others (Level C) or taking the initiative to do right regardless of outside pressures (Level D).

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Dr. Marvin (Marv) Marshall
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