Socialise Properly!

The dangers of not internalising new behaviours

It is the compliant children, those who introject the regulations and rules of behaviour and are seen as good children who perhaps suffer the most. Because they are compliant they don’t receive a great deal of attention but they do not fully internalise ways of behaving.

Only partially internalising the rules can lead to deep feelings of inadequacy – of never being able to live up to the standards set by the rules. Such feelings, leading to anxiety and maladaptation, can be long-lasting, persisting through adulthood. Indeed, many professionals suffer from the ‘impostor syndrome’ where they feel inadequate and are anxious about being found out and humiliated because of their perceived shortcomings.


Edward L Deci quotes the following case study conducted at the University of Rochester where Richard Ryan and Wendy Grolnick assessed the extent to which elementary-school children were motivated to do their schoolwork by introjected values and regulations, or alternatively, by more integrated ones. They also asked the teachers of these students to rate how motivated each student was, and they asked the children themselves how hard they tried to do well in school.

In terms of how motivated the students appeared to the teachers, or how hard they tried to do well, it did not matter whether the children were more introjected or more integrated.

Students with high levels of introjected regulation were seen by teachers as very motivated, and students with equally high levels of the more integrated form of regulation were also seen as highly motivated. And both types of children reported trying hard.

But that's where the similarities ended. Those students who were more introjected were extremely anxious about school and displayed maladaptive patterns of coping with failure, whereas those who were more integrated enjoyed school and evidenced patterns of coping when their efforts went awry.

The teacher practicing encounter can create integrated children as well as recovering those who have only partially integrated the rules of behaviour.

Again, this is what makes them so effective.

John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter.

John Corrigan