Developing confidence in satisfying
our physiological needs.
The bottom level of Maslow's hierarchy is what he
called physiological needs. After learning itself there are a range of
needs that are essential to our continued life and ability to
reproduce. We need to feel confident that we can satisfy those needs,
and that we will be able to satisfy those needs in circumstances that
we are yet to experience. We must feel confident in satisfying the
needs for warmth, food, water, shelter, sex, etc.
A strange paradox can be operating when we start
to look at how children can begin to learn to become confident in their
ability to provide for their own physiological needs. Children of poor
parents and children of single parent families, often gain this
confidence quickly, because it is an economic or logical necessity. The
poor often have to send their children out to work or have them do most
of the household work at a very early age, because they can not do
enough themselves. This is hard on the children, but as they do the
work they can acquire confidence in their ability to provide both, for
their own physiological needs and the needs of others. They get
continuing validation of their ability to provide for these needs and
of their ability to improve in this through their own efforts.
they gain early confidence in their own ability to affect themselves
and the world, to
change themselves and the world to be more to their liking.
Children of rich people, by contrast, if they are
to pampered and not allowed to make their own way in the world, often
have a great deal of difficulty in feeling they can satisfy these
primitive needs. The problem is usually one of the rich parents not
trusting their children's ability to provide, while single parents or
parents who are sick may have no choice but to trust in their
This site is not advocating that we should make
for children, but that they should be allowed and encouraged to
contribute to the provision of the families physiological needs, if
that is what they wish. After all, the idea of limiting the age at
which one can work, was established in order to prevent child
exploitation by parents and employers, not to stop children that want
to work from working. If exploitation can be avoided,
then children working can be considered to be a healthy way of gaining
the confidence they need in both satisfying and acquiring the ability
to satisfy their physiological needs.
experience in helping out out with the satisfaction of physiological
needs can provide confidence in the satisfaction of these needs, this
may well be a very fragile confidence, one that can easily be dashed if
one is unable to satisfy those needs as as often or as quickly as one
might like. What is needed in order to immunize one's confidence in
ones eventual ability to satisfy one's physiological needs, from
in the face of obstacles, mistakes and failure, is the same growth
mindset or incremental self-theory as is mentioned above.
A growth mindset enables
you to believe, that anything can be achieved if you are willing to put
in sufficient time and effort. This can mean, in terms of physiological
needs, that we need to acquire confidence in our ability to obtain such
things as money, degrees, prestige, all the things that can
be exchanged for the physical comforts of food, drink shelter etc. A
growth mindset enables you to believe that you can change yourself
sufficiently through learning, as to acquire any needed knowledge to
accomplish these goals and satisfactions. A growth mindset enables you
that mistakes and failures are an essential part of learning, and are
not in any way to be a part of how people are judged. People with this
growth mindset are all about mastering themselves and mastering their
environment. Mistakes and failure are recognized, not as a way
classify traits and ability, but rather as information that can be used
to do better than they were able to do before. In her book
"Self-theories" Carol Dweck had this to say about children who had an
incremental self-theory about themselves:
"The answer, which surprised us, was that
they did not blame anything. They didn't focus on the on reasons for
the failures. In fact they didn't seem to consider themselves to be
failing. Certainly, they had bumped up against difficulty, but nothing
in their words or actions indicated that they thought this was anything
more than a problem to be tackled. ...students in the mastery oriented
group began issuing instructions to themselves on how they could
improve their performance."
How can children
induce a growth mindset in their self so
that they can experience a future focused role image of confidence that
they will be able to satisfy their physiological needs throughout life?
answer is curiously quite simple. As Dweck stated in the previous
paragraph the answer to how to induce this growth mindset is simply for
children to give themselves instructions either verbally or in the form
of the inner
silent speech of thought. Dweck continues and describes some of these
sorts of self instruction:
"Some of these were self-motivating
instructions: 'The harder it gets, the harder I need to try,' or 'I
should slow down and try to figure this out.' Some of these were more
oriented toward the cognitive aspects of the task, such as reminding
themselves of what they had learned so far about the problem they were
...We will never forget one young man,
who, when the difficult problems started, pulled up his chair, rubbed
his hands together, smacked his lips, and said, 'I love a challenge.'
Or another, who as the difficulty began, told us in a matter of fact
voice, 'You know I was hopping this would be informative.' Or another
child who asserted cheerfully, 'Mistakes are our friend.'"
As can seen from this, these children are imposing
growth framework of understanding on their actions and circumstances.
In doing this they are probably channeling or imitating their parents.
The outcome though is one of our special confidence. This is not just a
confidence of being able to satisfy ones own physical needs but a
confidence in one's ability to learn how to satisfy those
needs, in, as yet, undetermined circumstances.
Facilitation of others.
How can we induce growth mindsets in other
children so they
can satisfy, so
that they can experience future focused role images of confidence that
will enable them to satisfy their physiological needs throughout life?
Part of inducing a
mindset is clearly to have one yourself so that children use you as a
model to imitate as is indicated above in giving themselves
and positive messages of effort and persistence. If you have this
mindset you will of course give yourself these kinds of messages and
your children will copy you.
If you do not have this mindset you can still help
to set it up in your children. You can do this by carefully thinking
through the kinds of praise and criticism you give to children. The
important thing in praising is to avoid praising the child for his
ability or intelligence or any other ability or personality trait as
a fixed mindset. Instead you
should praise effort, hard work, improvement, perseverance and
diversity of strategies. The same
rules apply to criticism do not criticize the personal
or skills of the child. Instead you can criticize their lack of effort,
lack of hard work, their lack of improvement, their lack of diverse
strategies and their lack of
perseverance. All this leads to children taking on the growth mindset,
which gives them the confidence that they will be able to learn how to
satisfy their physiological needs in a future that is
The final way to facilitate the growth of this
confidence is to let go of the feeling that you have to help them do
everything. They will never learn how to satisfy their own needs if you
do not let them do it. It is all a mater of trusting your children and
in their ability to learn how to do things competently.
confidence in satisfying our safety needs.
After learning how to
satisfy their physiological needs there are a
range of needs that are essential to children's continued boldness.
They need to become confident that they can satisfy those needs, and
that they will be
able to satisfy those needs in circumstances that they are yet to
experience. They must not only feel confident in their abilities to
satisfy their needs for safety,
security, etc. but must also become confident that they can continue to
learn how to do so in an uncertain future.
If poor children can
get a head start in gaining
confidence about satisfying psychological needs rich children have a
kind of head start when it comes to safety and security. The children
rich parents can feel quite confident in taking risks with money, with
education, with social connections because they have a safety net. If
they fail or fall their parents money and connections cushions the
blow. There is no possibility that, if they fail, they will stave or
never be able to rise again. They know they will have many chances to
succeed and they can screw up, or fail, or even have problems with
drugs or police and they will still be ok. Although this could be a
growth thing to help children succeed and accomplish great things in
life, it is often taken as a kind of privilege, where children see
themselves as better than others. Far from using this leg up to achieve
greater safety and security, it is often used to coast in life and
achieve no real confidence in improving their satisfaction of the need
or any other need. Far from using this net to make themselves safer in
various circumstances, many simply stay in the warm coziness of the
net. This could, of course, also become a disadvantage if they were to
all their money or status. In this case they might have little
their ability to learn and cope and feel safe.
paradox of safety and security.
How then do children
learn to make themselves safe and so
gain confidence in their ability to continue to make themelves feel
Paradoxically, they do it by putting themselves in danger. Any
is a danger, but if children have a growth mindset they are willing to
risk. They are willing to be brave because they are confident in their
ability to learn whatever they might need. The child moving away from
and then running back to her is making himself feel safe. He feels safe
with his mother, yet he moves away from her. It is only in this way
will he come to feel safe when he is away from his mother.
mindset child sees the world as very unsafe. He is judged at every turn
both good and bad, and becomes afraid of not being able to produce
those good abilities and qualities on demand. People, and certainly
children tend to judge others the same way they judge themselves. In
her book "Mindset" Carol Dweck makes it quite clear how they judge
"...this study was the first to show that
when entity and incremental theorists saw someone behaving badly, they
differed in how likely they were to attach a global negative label.
Does this mean that entity theorists tend to be more mean-spirited more
misanthropic, more likely to dwell on peoples flaws? ...studies showed
that this was not the case: Entity theorists are also quicker than
incremental theorists to attach global positive labels."
Entity theorists begin to avoid situations that
could expose the possibility that they are bad or stupid, for to be so
is to be unsafe and open to attack. This fear
keeps them from trying, from taking risks and from rising to meet
challenges. On the other hand, growth oriented children do not attach
global labels easily (positive
or negative) to themselves or others.
Thus they tend to have confidence that both themselves or others can
themselves in order to deal with any situation that might eventuate.
For those with an incremental self theory it is just a
matter of learning how to do it, and for them that just means putting
in the necessary effort.
The home, of course, should not be an unsafe place
but this should not prevent us from allowing children to take risks. It
is all a matter of parents being vigilant in knowing when children are
taking risks and being there as backup in case of failure. On the other
hand we all know school often is unsafe. There is always a primitive
pecking order in schools and bullies are often at the top. The
important thing to note here is that the parents and the teachers
cannot make the children safe, or if they do, they will have prevented
an important learning experience. Parents and teachers can make
suggestions, offer to teach skills, but if the child is to feel safe he
must make himself safe. More than this, he/she needs to feel that in
situations where he/she is unsafe that he/she has the confidence that
he or she can,
through learning and his or her own efforts, eventually make
him/herself safe. They
have to come to feel confident that whatever confronts them in the way
danger and lack of security they will be able through learning to make
themselves safe, by means of effort, hard work, and persistence.
go, the security of the child being able to do it him/herself.
In a way allowing a child to gain confidence in
his ability to feel safe, derives from parents letting go gradually, as
the child's confidence builds. John Holt in his book "How Children
Learn" provides a beautiful example of teaching a very young child to
swim a skill that obviously makes us feel safe. As John Holt explains
it, it is mostly a matter of being sensitive to the baby's fear, and
reacting instantly to keep him safe, yet letting go moments later when
the baby has ceased to be afraid. Holt has this to say:
"But the principle is always true. If we
continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will
become more timid, and use his brains and energy, not to explore the
unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him. If,
however, we are careful not to push a child beyond the limits of his
courage, he is almost sure to get braver."
For the parent or
facilitator it is a very tricky
business allowing and trusting in a child's ability to learn to make
safe. As Holt explains teaching swimming is is a process of supporting
when the child feels afraid and yet letting him go off and perhaps get
hurt when he feels brave. This same principle applies to all chalanges
and all risks. Everything a child needs to learn in order to feel safe
comes from the child's confidence that he/she can do it without
praise and entity theories.
parents think they can give their children confidence in their ability
to make themselves safe, by telling them they are brave or clever, or
praising any manner of fixed attributes that they the child could use
to make himself safe. But this kind of praise, as anyone should be
aware at this point, can make the child feel
less safe, especially if he or she cannot see any evidence of those
attributes. All this kind of praise does, is frame the overcoming of
any danger in terms
of fixed abilities and intelligence. This this kind
leaves the child feeling very insecure and unsafe whenever there are
fixed mindset tends to frame 'the use of effort' as showing that you
clever or have little innate ability. It leaves the child feeling
unsafe and insecure because, if his/her abilities or intelligence seem
faill or falter in the face of theat, there seems to be no other
A child with a growth minset, however, remains confident in
his/her ability to learn and be ready to deal with danger when
occurs. Such children attempt difficult things and take risks venturing
into unsafe areas where they could be
shown to have acted stupidly or lack ability. Children with a
fixed mindset on the other hand can find themselves avoiding
challenges and preferring to do only things that they are already known
to be good at. Carol Dweck explains that those with a fixed mindset
tend to think:
is for those who don't have ability. ...'If you have to work at
something, you must not be good at it.' ...'Things come easily to
people who are true geniuses.'"
fixed mindset children there is no venturing forth from mother in order
to make themselves safe.
Instead they end up essentially staying with mother where it is already
to be safe. Dweck continues to deconstrucrt this fixed mindset:
is effort so terrifying?
are two reasons. One is that in a fixed mindset, great geniuses are not
supposed to need it. So just needing it casts a shadow on your ability.
second is that...it robs you of all your excuses. Without effort, you
can always say, 'I could have been [fill in the blank].' but once you
try, you can't say that any more. Someone once said to me , 'I could
have been Yo-Yo Ma.' If she had really tried for it, she wouldn't have
been able to say that."
fixed mindset also provides an unhealthy kind of safety and security.
There are in
fact two kinds of safety. There is the safety of being wrapped in a
cocoon of security provided by others. A cocoon that buffers you from
all the dangers of the world. Part of that is a constant self. If you
are the same person you were yesterday, if you have not grown or
changed then that feels safe. People know what kind of person you are,
how you will act in various situations and what you are likely to do in
various situations. They know what to expect of you. In turn you tend
to live up to their expectations of you. If you change your mind, if
you act differently to anything you have done before, if as is normal,
you gradually become a different person. If you become a different
person you are risking this cocoon of safety. The unchanging
interaction between you and others simply evaporates and you must learn
to interact with people in new ways. You are taking a risk by simply
changing anything about yourself and what you do. It is a sad thing
that poiticians are often viewed through a fixed midset lens
in that if they change their mind it usually atributed to their being
wishy washy rather than that they have learned something.
an entity theory although you may remain safe your need for safety is
satisfied because you never learn how to satisfy it yourself.
Furthermore, you definitely never gain the kind of confidence, where
you feel you can learn to make yourself safe in any dangerous
situation, given sufficient effort and time.
you are stuck in these ways, you are not giving yourself confidence
that you can make yourself safe in varying circumstances in the future,
you are not even making yourself confident that you can make yourself
safe now. You are not taking risks, and risks are essential in learning
how to make yourself safe. If somebody else makes you safe then your
are totally at their mercy for your safety and this is no way to
satisfy you need for safety, or have confidence you can make yourself
safe. Certainly, it allows no way you can build up confidence that you
can make yourself safe in varying circumstances you are yet to
experience. You can only build up this confidence by taking small
sensible risks and
gradually moving to greater risks as your confidence and ability grows.
All this is done by embracing learning how to do, and what to do, when
needed, with effort
and hard work, persistence and diverse strategies.
and strategies praise and entity theories.
person with a growth mindset simply does not see things this way. A
person with a growth mindset wants to be safe in any situation. A
person with a growth mindset wants to go out in the world face dangers
and overcome them by learning how to do it. For a person with a growth
mindset taking a risk trying to meet a challenge is just a part of
learning and anything can be learned given sufficient time and
It is important to know how to induce a growth
mindset in one's self so we can also experience a future focused role
image of confidence for safety. We need to have confidence that we will
be able to satisfy our safety needs throughout our life.
How to do this
is essentially the same as for physiological needs. To induce a growth
mindset you again give yourself instructions either verbally or in the
form of the inner silent speech of thought. Of course it is also
essential to actually put in effort, work hard and persist until you
have made yourself safe.
difference here is the importance of taking risks, in building
this confidence gradually, growing it in lockstep with your actual
competence. The moment you feel
yourself safe or secure in a particular situation you need to move on
making yourself safe in some other situation. This is not as difficult
common sense might predict it to be. Facing
challenges and overcoming them is very pleasurable, so a few instances
of this can induce a large amount of intrinsic motivation.
is a problem however, in that we can choose the wrong kind of risks to
take. Any gambler knows that it is easy to choose risks that are
concerned with high returns for little investment and this can mean
anything from money to the amount of effort invested. Risk assessment
has to be realistic. The risks we need to take to
make ourselves safe and secure must also be ones that we can
realistically achieve. Further they should also be ones that do not
conflict with the satisfaction of other needs.
Facilitation of others.
How to induce growth mindsets in children so they
can become confident of their ability to learn how to satisfy
their safety needs. Parents and teachers are in the perfect position to
act as role models. It's all about how parents and teachers seem to
and security in the world. If you as a parent or teacher are not
satisfying your own safety and security needs adequately, this will
pose a problem. It may well be that you have to fix this problem first.
The way to develop your own confidence in learning how
to make yourself safe and secure, is as mentioned above, a matter of
giving yourself instructions and positive effort messages. If you do
this your children or students will copy this behavior.
Another way to help facilitate this confidence in
children, is to provide a better kind of praise and criticism. By
praising and criticizing the strategies and efforts of children rather
than praising and criticizing their persons, we can enable children to
make better and more rational choices about risk. Carol Dweck's studies
showed consistently that children (people) with an entity theory about
themselves, would shy away altogether from
any risks that could present
them as being stupid or lacking in ability. They also tended to
studiously avoid mistakes and failure and thus any situations that
could end in mistakes or failure. On the other hand entity theorists
could take unhealthy risks involving large returns for little effort.
Incremental theorists who were praised for effort and strategy by
contrast, were very willing to take risks that could improve their
knowledge or their abilities all of which could help them to make
themselves safer. You can praise children's effort, hard work,
improvement and perseverance. Likewise you can criticize their lack of
effort, their lack of hard work, the lack of improvement, and their
lack of perseverance. You should not criticize risk nor should you
praise it. Taking risks is about logical assessment and that could
certainly be praised or criticized. All this will lead the children to
better risk taking and greater confidence in their ability to learn how
to satisfy their needs for safety and security.
parental role is to act as facilitators in enabling those in their care
to learn the skills that are needed to satisfy their own safety needs
and acquire the belief that they will be able to learn how to do
satisfy them in an unpredicable future.
A good parent should be able to perceive when the child needs to try to
do it by himself, when only advice is needed and when the child no
longer needs any help at all. The good parent should want to satisfy
his child's safety needs when the child cannot satisfy his/her own
but should want more, for the child to learn how to satisfy his/her own
safety needs. Also a good parent has to realize that his or her
children know far better when safety needs need to be satisfied by
others and themselves. This
is also true of anyone facilitating children in the satisfaction of
their safety needs. To develop confidence they have to first satisfy
own safety needs a little. They have to satisfy that need just enough
to give confidence that they can learn more and thus satisfy
need a little more. It is a matter of growth by gradual
confidence in satisfying our Love and belonging needs.
The next level of Maslow's
hierarchy is what he
called love and
affiliation needs. After learning, physiological and safety needs,
there are a range of needs that are essential to our wellbeing and our
ability to function in society. We need to feel confident that we can
satisfy those needs, and that we will be able to satisfy those needs in
circumstances that we are yet to experience. We must feel confident in
satisfying the needs for love, friendship, acceptance into groups,
being able to relate to others, etc.
is worthy of belonging and being loved?
ourselves how we can acquire the confidence that we will
be able to learn how to belong and cause others to come to love us we
need to ask ourselves what it is in others that we love and what makes
us want to belong with a group of others? Who are the people that we
love and why do we love them? What makes people want to
belong with others in a group? Also we can ask why do we have certain
people as friends and what makes us want to have them as friends?
we love people because they are physically beautiful? Do we love people
because they are entertaining, humorous or charming? Or do we love
people because their actions seem to indicate that what they want for
us is only what is best for us? Unfortunately we tend to love to some
extent when people have any or all of those qualities. But we are
attracted to people who are fake or inautentic. Many other qualities
are unatractive also. We tend not to like those who say bad things
about us or put us down even when they do so humorously. For some
people truth and honesty is essential. Others are attracted to bravery
and integrity. To try to create a list of what people like or dislike
in others is unfortunately not possible because people like and dislike
so many qualities and not the same ones.
problem is that those actions and qualities that enable us to belong to
groups and ofen help in
making friends and even being loved are those indicating that we have a
similar set of
interests. The liking of doing, playing and talking about the same
things seem essential for any group. Even wearing the same sort of
clothes makup and hairstyes can
open dorways to certain groups. There is, therefor, a tendency for
to pretend to like and be interested in certain things when they are
not, simply to enable entence into group and to attract friends and
lovers. This, unfortunately, is also fake or inauthentic behavior which
people will dislike and be put off by. Of course being authenic is just
being yourself and being interested in only what you are interested in
and not caring what anybody else might think.
humorous and charming are about haveing a certain kind
of social skills. Such things can
be learned, but to learn them as a skill can produce the effect of
seeming inauthentic. There
other social skills however that enable good comunication. These allow
children to communicate better what they are feeling and what they
mean. There have been various books written about
these sort of social skills such as "Reaching Out" by David W. Johnson,
"You and Me"
by Gerard Egan, and "P.E.T. Parent Effectiveness Training" by Thomas
Gordon. These books have tried to codify these social skills so they
taught as a subject. Regardless of whether these books are effective,
(it may well be they are effective) it matters not, as there is no
demand for this information. Such information on building social skills
is not taught in the home, and certainly not in schools. For the most
part social skills are gained through the school of hard knocks.
Basically they are learned through personal experience in the form of
trial and error. This is currently, the only socially acceptable way to
learn these social skills. The academic knowledge gained over time on
this important subject, seems to remain locked away in ivory towers.
are more important than actual social skills.
it now seems that social
not as important in satisfying love, friendship and acceptance as it
first seemed. Social psychology in the form of Dweck's "Self-theories"
or "Mindset" now points to the possibility that the overall framework
through which people percieve the world seems to be more important than
actual social skills.
The reason for that is that a growth or incremental framework is what
allows the learning of social skills to take place. More importantly it
provides the confidence that the person will continue to be able to
learn so as to constantly improve those social skills, overcomeing
obstacles, mistakes and be able to recover from social
failure. Whereas an entity or fixed framework tends to
stifle learning because of its inability to deal with mistakes and
failure. In other words it is not as important to have developed social
skills as it is to feel confident the you will be able to learn them in
the future. The important thing about being socially active, is a
willingness to keep putting yourself in social situations where you may
possible make mistakes, look stupid or fail completely, so that you can
of the entity or fixed mental frameworks come to us through our
observation of our parents and others with whom we come in contact, and
the kinds of feedback we get from them. Person-oriented feedback about
love, friendship and acceptance follows an entity framework. Such
feedback seems to be instilling a sense of contingent acceptance and
contingent love. When people have a sense of contingent love and
acceptance. Entity theorists tend to feel accepted and loved only when
they have done what
groups, friends and lovers expect of them. They feel like outcast,
friendless and unloved when they do not do exactly what those others
want or expect, or when those others tell them they find their behavior
concept informs several personality theories, such as Carl Rogers'
"Client Centered Therapy'. In client centered therapy non judgmental
acceptance is given as the first step in the therapy. This therapy
highlights how some parents interact with their children in such a way
as to convince those children that the parents consider them worthy of
love only when they behave a the way they want, or meet their
standards. Children thus come to believe that they are accepted and
loved only when they get personal positive feedback. When children
display a sense of contingent acceptance and love they seem to expect a
huge reaction from their parents or teachers. Conversly, they feel
unaccepted when they are rebuked for doing something their parents or
of the person and praise of the person person can lead to this entity
theory state, by inducing children to feel, loved, have real friends
and belong, only when they are doing what others want. Likewise it
leads to self-derogatory statements about themselves and
dissatisfaction with themselves, when they act against the wishes of
others. Even when we think we are expressing unconditional love we can
be inadvertently strengthening an entity framework of belief.
In their book "Nurture Shock" Po Bronson and
Ashley Merryman have this to say:
"I recognized that praising him
[Po's son] with the universal 'You're great - I'm proud of
you' was a way I expressed unconditional love. Offering praise has
become a sort of panacea for the anxieties of modern parenting. Out of
our children's lives from breakfast, we turn it up a notch when we are
home. In those few hours together, we want them to hear the things we
can't say during the day - We are in your corner, we are here for you,
we believe in you."
Of course we are not trying to create children who
depend on what we say in order to feel loved. For the most part we want
our children to grow up and feel confident in their own ability to
learn and to know what social actions to take in order to have others
love them. This confidence has to be about their own capacity to learn
and should not be dependent on others magically offering up love or
friendship at all.
But in our guilt and desperation, we
(unfortunately) through praising and criticizing our children as
people, tend to make children dependent on us for love and acceptance.
This in turn sets their strategy for obtaining any sort of love or
acceptance. Ultimately all their love, acceptance and friendship
relationships become ones of dependence. Often love relationships
between males and females become ones of mutual dependence where two
entity theorists form an unhealthy mutual support.
How are good social relationships
We can ask, 'For what activities are people held
by others and by themselves to be lovable friendly and acceptable?' We
also need to ask these questions. 'What makes a good relationship?'
'Are good relationships something that just happen magically because
people have found the right other person, or do people have to work at
relationships in order to make them good?' In this world of scientific
discovery we cannot be fooled by the promise of magic any longer. We
find people to be lovable friendly and acceptable when they work hard
to keep relationships alive. When they change themselves into better
people. When they support others in their growth. This is not
to say we should stay in unhealthy relationships like a beaten wife and
a wife beater.
This need, like the other needs must start from a
secure base. We must experience being loved before beginning to figure
out how we can learn to change ourselves and what else we can change
that will give us confidence that we can learn how to belong, make
friends, and win love.
The same sort of giving yourself instructions
that activates a growth framework can be applied to social skills. If
you have a (growth) incremental self-theory you will not be fazed by
rejection but instead redouble you efforts to win acceptance or
friendship or love. If you do not succeed in social relationships you
simply tell yourself that this is a challenge and that you like
challenges. You tell yourself that the difficulty of winning love etc.
will make it all the sweeter if you succeed. Then you set about
learning how to win that love, friendship or acceptance.
Facilitation of others.
Because love is an instinct in most parents this
should not be a big problem. Parents who have a growth mindset form
role models for their children and those children will in all
likelihood end up with growth mindsets themselves. Parents and teachers
who form good relationships, who have good social skills provide just
the role models needed to enable children to become confident that they
can also form good relationships. Even if they fail in doing so they
confident that through effort and hard work they will be able to form
such good relationship in the future. If they are in a relationship
that is not good they remain confident that they will, by working at
the relationship be able to make it better.
Of course if parents have entity self-theories
this becomes a problem. Even when they are trying to show unconditional
love or acceptance, it really communicates the wrong thing. Parents
could well learn to be more authentic with their children, because how
they communicate love will be used as a model by their children when
the children try to win love. Parents and teachers have two main ways
of doing this. To do this right parents and teachers have to model for
the children how to best learn and thus satisfy their own needs for
love, friendship and belonging.
Also for parents and teachers wishing to
facilitate children's confidence in their ability to learn how to
satisfy their needs for love, friendship and acceptance into groups,
can help by praising and criticizing only effort, strategy etc. This
kind of praise and criticism enables the formation of a growth
perspective, in a growth environment. A growth environment is where
praise of the child or criticism of the child is avoided, but where
feedback (praise and criticism) is about the effort put into
relationships, strategies used in forming relationships, being prepared
to work hard at relationships, and perseverance with relationships.
Carol Dweck has a lot to say about why entity mindsets can be very
dangerous to any kind of relationship:
Dweck found that
entity theorists tended to
give up on relationships quickly, especially those involving a sexual
element or a marriage. Entity theorists tend to expect instant,
perfect, compatibility and when it did not happen they saw no
possibility of sufficient change to make things work. She believes that
entity theorists dismiss relationships with the following thought or
words: "If you have to
work at it, it wasn't
meant to be." Dweck goes on to
say: "In a growth mindset, there may still be that exciting
initial combustion, but people in this mindset don't expect magic. They
believe that a good lasting relationship comes from effort and from
working through inevitable differences."
Again the whole process of gaining confidence in
our ability to make friends and win love, requires being allowed to do
it ourselves. Parents often do not like the gangs or groups their
children choose to belong to, who they make friends with, and who they
they use as role models. But there is little they can do about it,
other than to be good role models themselves. In the end parents must
let their children make their own mistakes. The most they can do is
express, how what their children are doing is making them feel, how it
is frightening them, how it is worrying them. The more parents try to
stop their children making friends, forbid them to be part of groups
the more they will rebel, and the less they will be able to grow
confident in their ability to do these things and satisfy this need. In
schools the the same is true. What teachers tell students to do is far
less important than the kind of example they set.
confidence in satisfying our esteem needs.
The next level of Maslow's hierarchy is what he
called the esteem needs. After learning, physiological, safety, and
relatedness needs there are a range of needs that are essential to our
esteem, both the esteem of others and self-esteem. We need to feel
confident that we can satisfy those needs, and that we will be able to
satisfy those needs in circumstances that we are yet to experience. We
must feel confident in satisfying the needs for honor, esteem and
is worthy of high esteem?
Before asking ourselves how we can acquire the
confidence that we will be held in high esteem by others and thus be
able to admire and esteem ourselves we need to ask ourselves what it is
in others that we admire, honor and esteem. Do we admire those who are
able to do things easily, quickly and without effort? Do we really want
to honor those who effortlessly glide through life seemly accomplishing
things without any hard work? What is it about a person that makes us
want to hold that person in high esteem? Think about the protagonist in
a movie/book or a main character in a movie/book. What is it that makes
us like or dislike that person? Don't we really hate the person who is
lazy, does little as possible and yet manages to be successful. The one
who puts in little effort, does no hard work and succeeds anyway is not
the one we admire and esteem. He/she is the one we envy and hate.
do we, and should we, hold in high esteem?
To decide who we
should admire we can look at the world around us or we can look at
fiction. Let us look at fiction first. Let us look at plays, books and
the movies. Who are the
characters in books and movies that we love? Surely the characters we
admire most, the ones we hold in high esteem are those ones who
struggle and fail, yet rise up and overcome insurmountable obstacles
and then, and only then, succeed and become successful. In fiction this
is called character development or a character arc and without it there
would be little of interest in stories. Basically it means that the
characters that we like and esteem are those that change. They become
changed by what happens to them, but more importantly, they change
because they make the effort to learn and improve. This in turn takes
us back to confidence. These are the characters that are confident they
can learn and improve. They may do so little by little, but still they
do it inevitably. They may make mistakes, they may fall down, they may
fail, but if they do, they rise up and try again. This site holds that
the people we should hold in high esteem are the very same people that
we normally hold in high esteem in fiction and for the most part this
site holds that these are the people that we actually do admire. We
should basically esteem those who willingly face chalenges and over
Self-esteem seems to be many things, but primarily
it is a combination of feelings of competence accomplishment
and worth. Thus if we wish to satisfy our need for self-esteem
should ask, 'How can we make ourselves confident of feeling competent,
and worthy?' We can further ask, 'For what activities are people held
by others and by themselves to be competent, accomplished and worthy?'
it may seem too obvious to ask, we nevertheless need to ask this
question. 'Do we hold those people who do easy things to be competent,
accomplished and worthy?' Maybe we could accept competent and
accomplished but never worthy. 'Do we
hold people to be competent, accomplished and worthy if they do things
difficult for us but easy for them?' Again the answer is a qualified
no. We hold
people to be competent accomplished and worthy, only if they do
difficult for us, and difficult for them. Also we tend to only hold
others to be competent, accomplished and worthy, who do difficult
things as so judged
by by both themselves and others. We hold our self to be competent,
worthy only when we perform tasks that seem difficult to us. These
feelings of confidence in our competence, accomplishment and worthiness
are the basis of self-esteem.
Self-worth is an
essential part of self-esteem. For this self worth to be healthy it has
to come from inside us. But for those with and entity theory self-worth
ends up being
contingent on others and what they are told about themselves by those
others. In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck shows how
personal praise and criticism function in entity self-theory frameworks
to create contingent self-worth which leads to a diminished form of
a sense, the person-oriented feedback [entity framework]
seems to be instilling a sense of 'contingent self-worth.' When people
have a sense of contingent self-worth, they feel like worthy people
only when they have succeeded, and they feel deficient or worthless
when they fail. This concept forms the core of several traditional
personality theories, such as those of Carl Rogers... and Karen
Horney.... In these theories , some parents' reactions to their
children teach the children that the parents consider them worthy of
love and respect only when they behave a certain way or meet a certain
standard. Children then adopt the idea that they are persons of worth
only under those circumstances.
had struck us before that the helpless young children in our earlier
studies were displaying a clear sense of contingent self-worth.... They
behaved very much as though they expected major reaction from their
parents (and their teachers) for their failures. And they told us that
they themselves felt as though they were not good kids as a result of
making a mistake or receiving criticism. Now we see that the person
criticism and the person praise can actually create this by leading
children to be proud and happy with themselves only when they succeeded
and to be globally self-denigrating and unhappy with themselves when
Two types of esteem.
There are basically two types of
self-esteem, entitlement self-esteem and growth self-esteem.
sort of self-esteem is entitlement self-esteem. This type of
self-esteem tends to be contingent on what others tell us and how they
feel about us. This makes it fragile,
dependent and curiously ego
inflated. It sees the diminishment of itself in the success of others,
and finds itself improved by diminishing others. This entitlement
self-esteem is bestowed by others and can just as easily be taken away
them. This has led to some very self defeating practices
in western society that has reduced the confidence, of a large
section of the population, in being able to
satisfy their need for esteem/self-esteem. Many, perhaps most of the
a large section of the population do
to consciously try and improve the esteem of their children, appear to
have completely the opposite effect. Carol Dweck in her book
"Self-theories" shows how by using this kind of praise and avoiding
criticism, has come to
be the more typical way we tend to try and promote self-esteem despite
creating a perverse unhealthy type of self esteem:
"So many of the well meant but
misguided practices I've been talking about come from a limeted view of
what self-esteem is. Self-esteem is too often seen as a thing that
children have or don't have, where having it leads to good things and
and not having it leads to bad things.
These practices also come from a limeted
view of how self-esteem is instilled. It is often portrayed as
something we give to children by telling them they have a host of good
things inside them, like high intelligence.
These beliefs lead us as adults to lie
to children - to exagerate positives, to sugar coat negatives, or to
hide negative information entirely. We fear that negative information
or criticism will damage self-esteem.
It's as though we've bought into the
entity theory, in which children require constant success to feel good
about themselves, and in which failures send a negative message about
intelligence and worth. We are in fact operating within this theory
when we attempt to puff children up and boost their egos instead of
boosting their effort, when we try to hide their deficiencies instead
of helping them overcome them, and when we try to eliminate obstacles
instead of teaching them how to cope with them.
These practices also convey an entity
theory of intelligence to our children. They tell them that having
intelligence is the most important thing, and that not having it is so
shameful that errors and deficiencies need to be hidden from them. This
kind of treatment may 'work' in some ways. Telling children they're
smart and giving them constant successes may in fact make them feel
good and it may instill a kind of worth - the kind we call entitlement.
We may be teaching them to feel entitled to a life of easy
and lavish praise for minor efforts... They may feel entitled to all
that society has to offer without putting in the effort to earn it, for
when were they taught that anything required effort? This kind of
self-esteem is not what our students need and it is not what our
Moreover, it's a recipe for anger
bitterness and self-doubt when the world doesn't fall over itself
trying to make them feel good the way parents and teachers did, or when
the world does not accept them quite as they are, or when world makes
harsh demands before it gives up its rewards... And what about
setbacks, failures and rejections - all the things that often precede
success in the real world? How can they possibly know what to do with
Carol Dweck also points out that even when we
say anything involving praise of a person or criticism of a person, we
can still undermine children's confidence, that they can just as easily
be learning how to
satisfy their need for self-worth or self-esteem, from the examples of
[We] "...relegate them [slow
learners], secretly, to a lower level of intelligence, assign
them easier things to learn, and try to make them feel smart learning
easier things - to protect their self-esteem. In this way, we doom them
to fall further and further behind."
Carol Dweck also points out that when viewed
through an entity theory
and self-worth that is totally dependant on what others say and
self esteem becomes the prise in a competition where for some to win
others must lose. This adversarial aproach to everything embeded in
entity theory comes from how
we understand physical objects. If I take a piece of pie there is less
pie for others. In the case of of abstract ideas like esteem, however,
this is not so. If someone holds me in high esteem they lose nothing.
They have an infinite amout of it that they can give away, if they so
wish. Carol explains:
the entity theory framework your peers are are competitors for
self-esteem. When we asked when the felt smart, entity theorists told
us they felt smart when they did better than other students, when other
students messed up on a test but they themselves 'aced' it. Some
colledge students even said they felt smart when other studentsmade
jerks out of themselves. So here others' misfortunes feed students'
when you are measuring an internal invisable quality like intelligence,
one of the major ways of measuring it is by comparing yourself
others... If you do better, especially with low effort then your
smarter. Thats why peers are your rivals."
Carol goes on to explain
that fixed mindset people (students) also feel self-esteem arising in
themselves only when they are triumphing over others. She says:
theorists' intellectual self-esteem was high when they did things
quickly, easily, in an error free way, and better than
The other self-esteem (lets call it growth
self-esteem) is improved
not so much by accomplishment, though that is part of it, but more by
having done the very best you possible could, by having used yourself
fully. It is the confidence that you will be able to do and to do
more worthy things, because you see improvement in yourself every day,
have a future focused role image of yourself that has no bounds. Indeed
your self-esteem grows out of what you feel, when trying to
produce great accomplishment, and in the very act of facing challenges
and overcoming them.
This kind of self-esteem depends not on what people say or even much on
what they feel about your work. Rather it is partly about what they
your effort and learning strategies, but more importantly it is about,
feel about your own effort and learning strategies. Carol Dweck in book
"Self-theories" explains how this healthy form of self-esteem arises
out of a growth mindset:
[the growth kind] is something students
experience when they engage in something fully and use their resources
fully, as when they are striving to accomplish something new. ...[where]
and effort are things that enhance self-esteem."
your self-esteem is derived from your own striving, from the use of
your own efforts and abilities, it is not in conflict with anyone
else's self-esteem. ...incremental theorists told us they felt smart,
not only when they were striving to master new tasks, but also
they put their knowledge to use to help their peers learn. Thus within
this framework, rather than being rivals for self-esteem, peers can
gain self-esteem by cooperating and by facilitating eachother's
Carol goes on to explain that growth mindset
people (students) also feel self-esteem arising in themselves only when
they are striving and struggling. She says:
felt smart when they were trying hard to understand something new, when
they mastered things independently, and when they used their knowledge
to help other students.
an incremental framework, self-esteem is how you feel when you are
striving wholeheartedly for worthwhile things; its how you experience
yourself when you are using your abilities to the fullest in the
service of what you deeply value... Moreover, in an incremental
framework, what feeds your esteem - meeting challenges with high effort
and using your abilities to help others - is also what makes for a
productive and constructive life."
Confidence earned by effort and
As we have implied above, people tend to act as if
esteem were something
one either has or does not have. It's as if people can give you esteem
or take it away from you. Esteem, however, is something you have to
earn both from others and from yourself. If people tell you that you
are clever, or great, or that you
have done fantastic work, this may not have been earned and often
isn't. If you wish to
become confident that you can satisfy your own need for esteem, you
have to go out and do something that is worth that esteem. People then
may complement you, but it is better for you if they admire the amount
you put in, the amount of time you put in, the dedication you
maintained, the superior effort you made, or how you persevered till
you completed the work. This is because, if truth be known, this is
what they really admire in you. In the end you just know (without being
personally complemented) that people hold you in high esteem, and even
if they did not, you would still hold yourself in high esteem. This is
because, true esteem, is invoked not by great accomplishment itself,
but rather by the effort to accomplish great things. Carol Dweck puts
it like this:
"...self-esteem is not something we
give them. [children] It is something they are in
charge of, and we can simply teach them how to live their lives so that
they will experience themselves in positive ways. In this view,
self-esteem is not a thing that you have or don't have."
What are are worthy or estimable actions?
Parents, even teachers, mostly want children to
learn to be able to do things that will cause others and themselves to
hold such children in high esteem. But they must come to realize that
they can not force children to do the things that they think will cause
them to hold those children in high esteem. Sometimes it may
be true. For instance, boys are often in a bind where they are told,
not to break the rules, fight and be rough. However, the boys know
well, that it is this very behavior that will cause them to be held in
high esteem, even by those who are telling them not to do it.
Parents and teachers need to do a lot of soul
searching about what they admire and prize in children. Their
admiration of the wrong things will certainly lead children astray.
Unfortunately we often, in this society, are expected to admire such
skills as the ability to strike fear in others, the ability to
manipulate others, the ability to steal from others without getting
caught, and the ability to take from others whatever we want without
reprisals. I am sure that the majority of people do not really hold
these views. Yet it seems that a strange social pressure is at work to
encourage many people to express such views.
If we are not to confuse our children, we must
instead try to express admiration for what is truly admirable, such
as making an effort to do good, to help people, to build or make what
worthwhile and to persevere until such tasks are completed. Or we can
admire the perseverance and effort to hone abilities needed to build
and make that which is worthwhile. Only in this way will children avoid
mixed messages, and build confidence they can learn to satisfy their
own needs for esteem. We must do this even though we fear we may be
thought soppy, sentimental and goody goody.
Everyone likes to win or be the best but this only
provides an entity framed confidence in one's esteem, true confidence
in the ability to satisfy your esteem needs comes from the effort,
persistence and the variety of strategies you put into accomplishing
something that people especially yourself generally hold
to be worthwhile. Also, it should be recognized that the old adage,
that the end justifies the means, can never be part of what causes us
to hold children, or anyone for that matter, in high esteem.
The heroes of those with a growth mindset
are the template for the highest esteem.
her book "Mindset" Carol Dweck teases out what is the essence of an
incremental theory or growth mindset. She explains that people with a
growth mindset simply do not understand what others find admirable or
great about being able to do things easily. She further intimates that
people with a growth mindset are
somewhat contemptuous of anything accomplished with little effort:
so heroic, they would say, about having a gift? They may appreciate
endowment, but they admire effort, for no matter what your ability is,
effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment."
the other hand people who struggle, people who fail and yet rise up to
succeed, they are obviously people who are worthy and easy to admire.
People who have had to work hard, put in great effort and persist when
success seemed unlikely, these are the heroes of those with a growth
mindset. Maybe they should be the heroes of us all.
Once we have clarified our own giving of esteem,
children will find ways to earn it, if we do not push them. We can
facilitate, but in the end the earning of esteem must be the child's
own work, if he/she is to gain the confidence that he/she can indeed
If he/she chooses the esteem of others instead of our esteem (as
teachers) we must also accept it in the spirit of joy in that child's
development. In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck tells us a great
deal about about what really constitutes robust healthy self-esteem and
how we can encourage it in ourselves:
[To acquire growth self-esteem you need to be]
"...experiencing yourself when you are using your resources well - to
master challenges, to learn, to help others. ...experience
[yourself] when [you]
are engaged in
something fully and [using your] resources fully,
as when [you] are
striving to master something new. ...facing
working hard, stretching [your] abilities, and
using [your] skills and
knowledge to help others..."
To enable yourself to acquire these feelings you
need to first expose yourself to Dweck's theories which you have
already started to do here. This is because just knowing about these
theories helps push you into an incremental or growth mindset. You
can further this exposure by reading her books "Self-theories" and
"Mindset". You may pay particular attention to those parts concerned
with confidence and self-esteem.
The most effective tool you have to encourage
confidence, in your ability to acquire self-esteem, is for you to
give yourself positive growth mindset messages such as, "I love a
"Mistakes are our friends." "I am held in high esteem when
I am mastering challenges and overcoming obstacles." "I can master
challenges and overcome obstacles because I love and enjoy the
mastering and overcoming." "All this is possible because I have
absolute faith in my ability to learn anything, if I put in sufficient
effort and hard work." These messages can be instrumental in facing and
overcoming obstacles, enable you fight through negative
outcomes and rise up after failure. They also provide a certain amount
of self-esteem by just being uttered or even thought. These sorts of
messages are the kind used in Aron Beck's Cognitive Therapy and Albert
Ellis' Rational Emotive Therapy, but with a view to changing your
motivations, goals, values and concerns as well as your feelings and
actions. These are a very powerful and effective tools that are used by
all those with a growth mindset to reinforce their own beliefs and to
pass on those beliefs to others.
Other than this, in
order to develop confidence in your ability to acquire self-esteem, you
can start to sort out what you really want to do with your life. If you
create true life goals and then try to work hard, put in real
effort and persist in trying to reach those goals, you will earn the
admiration of others and yourself.
Of course you can further improve your chances of
acquiring confidence of growth self-esteem by surrounding yourself with
people who are of a like mind and have growth mindsets. Such people
will act as role models for you and will constantly be providing you
with their own positive growth mindset messages.
Lastly you can help deflect the negative fixed
mindset messages you receive from others, which
can crush your self-esteem, by reinterpreting their meanings and
denying those meanings when they are unhealthy and down putting. You
can even create your own opposite messages to counter them.
Facilitation of others.
how can good self-esteem be conveyed to children by parents and
teachers? In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck has a lot to say
framework, [is] what feeds your esteem - meeting
challenges with high
and using your abilities to help others - is also what makes for a
productive and constructive life.
we have many tools the we can use to increase students confidence that
they can learn/acquire esteem from others and develop their own
When wishing to facilitate
this confidence in children we have two main ways of doing
can model for the children how we learn and earn self-esteem and thus
encourage them to imitate us thus enabling them to satisfy their own
needs for esteem. This of course means providing our own self
reinforcing positive growth mindset messages. Dweck puts it like this:
"...We can show children how we relish a
challenge by waxing enthusiastic when something is hard; we can talk
about how good an effortful task feels; we can model the exciting
search for new strategies and report the information we have gleaned
from the strategy that failed."
Secondly, we can provide a growth environment for
the child that nurtures the children confidence in acquiring
growth environment is where both praise and criticism are not avoided,
but where feedback (praise and criticism) are
effort, strategy and perseverance. Carol Dweck points out that this
allows us to be truthful with children:
"...in this framework we can
tell students the truth. When they don't have skills or knowledge, or
they are behind other students, this is not a sign of a deep, shameful
deficit. It's a sign that they need to study harder or find new
learning strategies. If some students don't pick up a subject as
quickly as other students do at the moment, that means they have to
work harder than the others if they want to achieve as much. In other
words we can be frank with students about what they lack and what they
need to do to get it.
...Within an incremental framework, we
give students an honest choice. If they want to get ahead they have to
put in what it takes. But we also have to be prepared to help them
learn what it takes."
Dweck goes on to say that we can also facilitate self-esteem by making
clear what actually enhances growth self-esteem:
"It is not an object we can hand them
a silver platter, but it is something we can facilitate, and by doing
so we help ensure that challenges and effort are things that enhance
self-esteem, not threats to the ego."
The final way to facilitate the growth of this
confidence is to let go of the feeling that you have to help them do
everything. They will never learn how to satisfy their needs for
esteem, if you do not let them earn it. How can others or they
see some activity or creation as worthy competent and accomplished, if
that person has
not done it him/herself. The need for autonomy in becoming confident of
being able to satisfy ones need for esteem is essential. In becoming
confident that one can learn how to satisfy one's need for esteem,
autonomy is even more essential.
The top level of Maslow's hierarchy is what he
called meta or being needs. After all the deficiency needs, there is a
range of needs that are essential to actualization of our individual
potentials, and our involvement in some great purpose as an expression
of our values. In doing this we transcend our own deficiencies and seek
only to help and improve the lives of others. As Maslow might put it,
our sense of self expands beyond our own skin, to include our families,
our friends, our culture, humanity and beyond, to very abstract
concepts of goodness, justice, beauty etc. We need to feel confident
that we can satisfy, and that we will be able to satisfy those needs in
circumstances that we are yet to experience. We must develop a future
focused role image of confidence in satisfying the needs for truth,
simplicity, order, wholeness, uniqueness etc.
confidence in satisfying our being needs.
We can not expect
that children will be greatly
concerned about the meta needs as these usually do not become greatly
motivating till children have gained confidence that they can
satisfy all the other deficiency needs and will continue to do so in
unexpected futures. Indeed, Maslow found that being needs do not
usually occur strongly until people are well into
adulthood. But, of course, all the needs are acting on us, to some
extent, all the time. Maslow quite clearly states this about meta needs:
it seems also true that some percentage of other, less healthy
people also are metamotivated to some degree by the B-values,
especially individuals with special talents and people placed in
especially fortunate circumstances. Perhaps all people are
metamotivated to some degree."
This being so we should obviously encourage
idealism and the developing of values and talents in the young, and
from time to time, see that children are placed in fortunate
circumstances to encourage, while they are only weakly motivated, the
satisfaction of meta needs.
But what are we saying here? Are we saying that
all children have special special talents or at least the potential for
them? Are we saying a growth mindset will enable anyone to grow and
change in major ways actualizing all their potential? In her book
"Self-theories" Carol Dweck answers these questions:
I have documented the many benefits of holding an incremental theory,
is it really reasonable to think that everyone has the potential to
grow or change in major ways? What about hardened criminals? What about
slow learners? I have not tried to argue that anyone can become an
Albert Einstein or a Mother Teresa, but I have tried to argue that we
do not know what anyone's future potential is from their current
behavior. We never know exactly what someone is capable of with the
right support from the environment and with the right degree of
personal motivation or commitment.
addition an incremental theory does not say that people will change. In
many cases it would be extremely foolish to believe that a person
continuing in the same environment, without any psychological or
educational help, will change. So an incremental theory does not
predict that people left to themselves are likely to become better
people over time. Not at all. It simply says that people are capable of
The danger of the entity theory.
The danger of the entity theory is that it will
never allow us to develop confidence that we can satisfy our need to
help and improve the situation of our fellow human beings. In her book
"Self-theories" Carol Dweck tells us why:
danger of an entity theory is not so much that it argues for human
limitation, but that it suggests we can know people's limitations so
quickly and then grants them so little potential for growth. I believe
that people and society gain a great deal when we search for ways to
help people realize their potential instead of labeling or punishing
them when they do not.
I think of a person's life ruled by an entity theory and performance
goals, I think of a life in which there is proof after proof of one's
ability. What does it add up to? Thousands of proofs of ability, but,
of course, never enough.
I think of a life in which time upon time there is a flight from risk,
so as to protect an image of oneself. This adds up to an armed fortress
containing all the things one could have been or done."
When it comes to these meta needs it is not just
a matter of sending yourself positive growth messages. It is a matter
of finding something you love to do that actually helps other people.
If you do this you will come into contact with like minded people who
are similarly motivated. These people will become your role models.
They will not be perfect people, but they will help foster a growth
mindset at this high level of motivation. Perhaps, more importantly.
avoid people who bring you down. In her book "Mindset" Carol Dweck
explains this beautifully:
"One day I was talking to a
dear, wise friend. I was puzzled about why she put up with the behavior
of some of her friends. Actually, I was puzzled about why she even had
these friends. One often acted irresponsibly; another flirted
shamelessly with her husband. Her answer was that everyone has virtues
and foibles, and that really, if you looked only for perfect people,
your social circle would be impoverished. There was, however, one thing
she would not put up with: People who made her feel bad about herself.
all know these people. They can be brilliant, charming, and fun, but
after being with them, you feel diminished. You may ask: 'Am I just
doing a number on myself?' But often it is them, trying to build
themselves up by establishing their superiority and your inferiority.
It could be by actively putting you down, or it could be by the
careless way they treat you. Either way, you are a vehicle for (and a
casualty of) confirming their worth.
was at a friend's fiftieth-birthday party and her sister gave a speech,
supposedly in her honor. Her sister talked about about my friend's
insatiable sexual appetite and how lucky it was she found a younger man
to marry who could handle it. 'All in good fun' she took care of my
friend's looks, brains, and mothering skills. After this tribute, I
suddenly recalled the saying 'With friends like these you don't need
Facilitation of others.
Parents and teachers who are concerned about
helping others in the world and making it a better place obviously will
role model for children to try to emulate. They will exemplify lives
lived with human values. Such an example would be instrumental in
enabling children to move to this high level of human endeavor without
embarrassment, as soon as, and sometimes, before they feel confident
they will be able to learn to satisfy
their deficiency needs. Only in these ways will children gain the
confidence they need in their ability to satisfy meta or being needs as
they become more strongly motivated. Dweck continues:
all seen movies in which the protagonist has a life-transforming
experience. He (for in these movies it usually is a he) suddenly
realizes that the life of the ego he had been living is hollow and
pointless, and that he has neglected the things that make life truly
worthwhile. It is, of course, a cliché, but then many clichés have more
than a grain of truth.
I think of an incremental theory and learning goals, I think of valued
skills and knowledge accrued over time and put to use for oneself and
others. Whether things have gone one's way or not, it adds up to a life
of commitments and earnest effort."