Self Love, Self Care, Self Mastery: Our Different Drivers for “Me Time”
By Nat Howard, BA Dip Edu
People are motivated to engage in and sustain behaviours that serve their best health for different reasons. While each person is 100% unique, there are neurobiological principles and patterns to what drives a person’s behaviour choices.
Matching your language to what genuinely motivates the person is essential. Getting your communication right can be the difference between getting someone to “give something a go” versus seeing them actually integrate lasting behaviours into their life. Genuine motivation comes from matching between your communication and the in built neurobiological feedback loops of the person – they feel good, and they get real, healthy results doing it that way.
The motivational messaging in the public space can be divided into three broad categories: what I’ve termed the “self love” vibe, the “self care” tribe, and the “self mastery” school. We can match these approaches to the three major groups we see in people, based on neurobiological patterns (with each person being the unique expression of each.) We can see patterns in the ways people are motivated to “make time for themselves” i.e choose to make healthy lifestyle choices, according to the approaches of these broad categories:
Group 1: The “Self Love” Vibe
These are the people who are most receptive to the “Love yourself to the full” kind of vibe. Do it for you. Accept yourself for who you are, good days bad days, the whole package. There’s a big push towards self determination here – you can write your own story, be in control, be adventurous, creative, unique. Don’t let anyone else’s opinion of you get you down. If there’s haters just shine your light even brighter.
You can see the themes of freedom, a good dose of “sticking it to the man”, and generally kicking butt. If this is your vibe you’re probably like “Hell yeah! / No duh!” For the people that do fit this, they are naturally receptive to hormones such as adrenaline, which is adventurous and self serving, or oxytocin, which is really playful and joyous. These people are also most active in parts of the brain responsible for movement and physical sensation – making their experience highly self and present focused. So, this vibe is what is totally natural – and healthy – for them to live by. When these people are in “unhealthy” places it is often because they’ve lost / don’t have their connection to fully loving and expressing themselves in all their unique energy.
The thing is, for many people, this vibe doesn’t actually vibe with them. To one group, it can feel too selfish and fiery. To another group, it’s pretty foolish and short sighted. So if you hit either of them with this messaging, you’ll miss the mark. They’re unlikely to sustain healthy behaviours with this approach, or not try at all.
Group 2: The “Self Care” Tribe
A second group of people are so naturally motivated towards caring for others, that they need to be reminded to care for themselves. The self care mantras generally hit the mark for these people, because they hinge on their primary motivator – that filling their cup first allows them to show up for others. Put your own oxygen mask on first. They do so much in service of others, they deserve to take time for self care. They need a lot of validation for just what a vital role they play for others – family, friends, workplaces, community. These are people who are geared towards taking their time more so than others, so that easy steady vibe of “making me time” for healthy and fulfilling choices fits with them.
These are people who are highly receptive to hormones such as prolactin, which creates nurturing, loyal and protective behaviours, and serotonin, which generates a desire for peace and order. They are also often people that store a lot – both in body and mind. They keep reserves of energy on their bodies and memories in their minds. So, they need plenty of time to steadily let things go, to release with thanks, knowing that the choices they are making are fuelling them to be their best selves for those they love.
For the first group, this approach can work, but it won’t sustain them. It will turn into a burden of “having to” take care of others, which misses the mark of their highest motivator – which is fully loving and enjoying themselves. For the third group, this approach can have some benefit, but again it won’t get them all the way, because it falls short of their highest goals. Ultimately, it can be too “fluffy” for them.
Group 3: The “Self Mastery” School
The third group of people are those most motivated by a sense of personal achievement. Your greatest competition is yourself. Be the best you can be, then, be better. These are the people who will pursue goals. They are what we identify as intrinsically motivated.
The kind of motivation that really works for these people can feel like “cracking the whip” to the first and second group. These people thrive on order, focus, discipline, control. The mention of these words sends many people running in the opposite direction – but for this group of people, they run towards it. They want that ultimate measure of self mastery, whether it be in mind, body, spirit, or, as it usually is with these people – all three. Aim higher. Always. The race is never won. Every challenge is a lesson. Master it.
You have to be careful if this is your approach to motivation. If you mismatch this to someone you can hamper their progress. They may perform, but they may be doing it more out of fear than a genuine motivation towards actually wanting that level. They could be trying to keep up with expectations because they don’t feel good enough, as opposed to actually being intrinsically rewarded for striving for it.
The people who do match this approach have in-built mechanisms that make it work for them. They are highly receptive to the reward hormone dopamine, which generates an anticipation of reward – so you get rewarded for striving for goals. They are also highly active in future focused and logical areas of the brain, amplifying their drive towards goal achievement. It’s crucial to understand that these are the people who feel good – and healthy – with high expectations.
Which group do you fit? Which group do each of your clients fit?
You can know precisely which of these categories your clients fall under – or if they have elements of more than one. It is all scientifically and easily measured and tested using the AI technology of Shae™. As a practitioner or provider you can learn precisely how to deliver your programs and services to your clients in the way that supports their unique neurobiology. Sign up for the next PHA course to unlock this now.