Self Determination Theory in the Real World

Have you thought about the significance that self determination and empowerment principles have had on you lately? We’re all faced with daily situations that offer us instant opportunity to integrate this concept into our repertoire of behavioral choices. It is thereby up to us to recognize, embrace and consequentially use these moments for our own practice. My next question for you is what is the significance of self empowerment as it relates to Self Determination Theory? As we are quickly approaching the summer months, I’m sure it’s not exactly what you might expect to hear at your poolside gathering, or now is it? It seems that we nonchalantly toss around such words as responsibility, autonomy, motivation, coping, relationships, stress, overwhelm etc. It seems these themes are quite in vogue with all of today’s modern stressors and many demands. It’s no wonder that Social Workers must not only live up to, but must live beyond what is readily expected of them. In fact, Social Workers themselves are becoming more in need of the same types of quality work they provide to the general public.

We know it is the Social Worker’s responsibility to embody and model the core values of social work; specifically, service, social justice, the dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationship, integrity and competence. The theory on Self Determination, developed by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, derives its importance directly from the dignity and worth of the person. Essentially, they discuss how human motivation emanates from the intrinsic tendencies that self endorse human needs, values and behavior.

By grasping a better understanding of this theory, we can then expand on the construct of autonomy and effectively apply it in our everyday lives. Maybe even at the poolside! Yes, it all boils down to the free will of each individual. Of course, as this is your birthright for freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Did you know that there are actually two levels where this may be expressed? The first level is through your own self-regulation ability and the second is via relational activities. Researchers Graham S. Gaine and Jennifer G. La Guardia (2009) in their article entitled, “The Unique Contributions of Motivations to Maintain a Relationship and Motivations toward Relational Activities to Well Being.” In Springer Science & Business Media, LLC link higher levels of autonomous functioning to greater positive interpersonal functioning.

We all know how high the divorce rate is. And why might this be so? Certainly it is our primary relationship that can and will present the most challenges and triggers that test our ability to keep healthy, respectful boundaries when communicating our selves with our partner. When we realize that Relational well being is composed of so many variables, primarily intimacy, commitment, satisfaction and the overall vitality of the relationship, we must take 100% responsibility for our own part of which we contribute. Both individuals need to play at 100% if they value the relationship to keep it alive and well. As each person learns how to increase their resiliency, and expressed ability for autonomous, strengths based cognitive and behavioral functioning, they similarly increase their positive interactive behaviors as well. By utilizing the Strengths Based Perspective as a tool to highlight positive characteristics, you enhance your inner development, transcend personal difficulty more easily and translate these skills as they manifest within the context of your primary relationships. It makes a lot of good sense when we hear the expression to “Know Thyself first”. As we must have a good stable inner relationship with ourselves before we can have it with others.

As human beings, we are always continually emerging, using our experiences to learn and grow. We can thank our “everyday teachers” that we meet nearly everywhere we go, those who challenge us to get through to the next level. We need to see these challenges as opportunities that allow us to creatively use our self determination in healthy ways.
The bottom line is to create a clear, resilient sense of self by continuing to practice the art of healthy self determination. You not only help yourself, you help all those with whom you relate with, regardless of who they may be.

When you foster self determination in the real world you make a conscious deliberate choice to co create a better place for us all to live. As you may have already guessed by now, it all begins with you.

Author's Bio: 

Moreen is a New Jersey Licensed Social Worker who has earned her
M SW degree and also holds a BA in Psychology. Her holistic philosophy integrates traditional and alternative modalities in all of her creative endeavors.

She has completed her certification as a Life Purpose and Life Career Coach with The Life Purpose Institute. She enjoys coaching in this arena because she believes in principles that access intrinsic motivation. Additionally, she has been trained in Heart Centered Hypnotherapy, Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (Level II), Masters’ level Reiki Practitioner as well as other Communication modalities, such as Parenting Education.

She has worked in both clinical and non clinical settings with individuals ranging from as young as pre-school age throughout the geriatric population. She is a free lance writer currently dedicating her time to this passion. She reads and writes metaphysical, transformational, self-help literature. She has co-authored a metaphysical book for both children and adults that has been submitted for publication. She has also written a chapter in PWN’s “The Confident Woman: Tapping Into Your Inner Power” which will be released August 2, 2013.

She can be reached at (732) 754-8681
She is available for free lance writing by appointment