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What drives us? 

Is there this great underlying force that gives us the motivation to pursue our dreams or to be the best that we can be in whatever we choose to do? Is it our desire to be perfect in anything that we strive for? 

“If I can’t be perfect, then what’s the point…” 

I hear things like that a lot, and that bothers me. The word “perfection” is concerning and can be troublesome. 

I applaud you for striving to be the best version of yourself, and I think it’s a positive thing to have high standards and to work hard. The problem is the concept of perfection… 

First of all – perfection does not exist. If it doesn’t exist, then it can never be reached.   

The troublesome part is that this desire to be perfect can undermine our progress. It can create an extreme lack of motivation and could result in a person simply giving up. Ultimately this leads to a sense of futility.  

Let me explain it like this… 

This neurotic behavior and unhealthy thought process of perfection simply suggests that one is comparing oneself to another or others. It’s making an attempt to become superior to others.  

I wonder if social media and the Internet and just media in general could be partly to blame.  

The key to understanding people is to look at the whole person – not just parts of their personalities. Look at them as they exist in the context of their environments, both physical and social. Look at their lifestyles – the ways in which they handle problems and relationships – how they react or how they respond in different situations. 

Past events shape our natures in the present. Things like early childhood trauma, rejection, abandonment, loss or other events tend to have lasting effects in our lives. We are shaped by what we have been through – especially if we don’t have the coping or problem-solving skills to deal with them or we are unable to process what comes into our brains.  

But many of us haven’t been taught how to look forward, and looking forward is simply motivation. It is our responsibility to dig deep and find that motivation, that forward-looking power. 

What happened to you in the past might not be your fault, but you are responsible for your future. Motivation is a matter of moving toward that future rather than being a victim of the past.  

When I was in the Marine Corps, we had an expression: “Semper Gumby,” which means “always flexible.” We must correct course from time to time and change things if we need to. We have choices – and things can change in your journey. Often, these changes are in the areas of perception, attitude and beliefs. 

Change happens from within. It’s not easy, but it’s possible – and you have to want to change.   

But why can some people change while others can’t? 

My friends, a large percentage of our population are miserably unfulfilled and far from perfect – far from realizing their true selves and their purpose. Why is this? 

I think many people are victims of self-sabotage and are mired in their perceived inferiority. 

It’s your choice. Are you a victim or a victor? Are you bitter or do you want to be better? Everyone can talk about challenges and hardship from their pasts – and we have all encountered people who have hurt us and made us feel “less-than.” We have all had unfortunate experiences and situations and negative influences – but moving forward is our choice. Motivation is our choice. The future belongs to us.   

I would ask you this: What is your mindset? What is your attitude? And I would encourage you to choose better. Seek better. Raise the bar. 

We can break the negative patterns in our lives and come out the other side with confidence and a new sense of direction.  

When will you stop complaining that your parents made your diaper too tight when you were a toddler? 

I encourage you to grow up and choose that we can’t change what has happened – but we can change what is about to happen.  

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It’s easy to develop an inferiority complex when the uphill climb towards self-esteem becomes too overwhelming and threatens to be insurmountable. 

Here’s an example of how an inferiority complex can become overwhelming: 

Imagine the way many children are flustered when it comes to math. It first they fall slightly behind – and then they get discouraged. Usually, they struggle onward and do the best they can, muddling through high school with barely-passing grades until they get into calculus. Suddenly, the appearance of integrals and differential equations overwhelms them to the point that they finally give up on math altogether. 

I get it.  

Five out of four people have trouble with math. Yup. I’m one of them.

Now apply that process to a child’s life as a whole. A feeling of general inferiority seeds doubt, which fosters this neurotic behavior and now the child becomes shy and timid – insecure, indecisive – and they are afraid. They are unable to meet their needs because now they lack confidence – they have poor self-esteem. Now the individual grows up to be passive-aggressive and manipulative – relying on the affirmation and validation of others to carry them through. 

This adult now has no power, is easily targeted - and their self-esteem is now crippled.  

Not all children dealing with a strong sense of inferiority become shy and timid. Some develop a contrived superiority complex in a dramatic act of overcompensation, becoming the classic image of the playground bully  – chasing away their own sense of inferiority by making others feel smaller and weaker Many also become greedy for attention and some are drawn to the thrill of criminal activity or drug use. Still others become heavily biased in their views and harbor strong opinions where they are always right and everyone else is simply wrong.  


Let’s take a moment and talk about personality types based on levels of individual energy that is manifested over time and experience: 

Could personality have an effect on one’s motivation? Could personality be a product of what we’ve been through as a result of who we are now? Cab we still change? 

I believe that we can change – and that’s motivation at work. 

The first type is the ruling type. These people are generally aggressive and dominant over others. They display an intense energy that overwhelms anything or anybody who gets in their way. These people are not always bullies. Sometimes they turn the energy inward and harm themselves – such as in the case of alcoholics or drug addicts and those who want to end their lives. 

The second type is the learning type. These individuals are sensitive. They may put up a wall of protection, but they end up relying on others to carry them through life’s challenges. These people lack energy and depend on the energy of others. They are prone to phobias and anxieties – obsessions, compulsions, dissociation and more.   

The third type is the avoiding type. People of this type have such low energy that they hide within themselves to conserve it – avoiding life as a whole and other people in particular. In extreme cases, these people develop psychoses, and the end result is entirely retreating into oneself. 

The fourth type is the socially useful type. People of this type are basically healthy individuals possessed of adequate but not overbearing social interest and energy. They are able to give to others without being consumed by a sense of inferiority. They are well aware that suggests they don’t have to play second fiddle to anybody, but they are accessible and fair to others. 

Motivation simply comes from within – and you choose your future regardless of what your past has been. 

Jeff Yalden is a speaker and Amazon bestselling author focusing on mental health, motivation and suicide prevention. Find out more about Jeff HERE.  

GRAB your copy of Jeff’s new book, Teen Suicide: The Why Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic  

To book Jeff for your next event, call Betty at 800-948-9289.  

This blog post has been adapted from an upcoming episode of Jeff’s podcast, Mental Health and Motivation: The Unlikely Life Coach. Click HERE to subscribe.