Extrinsic goals and the self

Underlying a strong emphasis on extrinsic goals is a tenuous hold on the self. The extrinsic goals bring attention to what we have rather than who we are.  This creates a facade, a persona created by looking to the external, that lacks a solid grounding.

In the absence of achieving satisfaction of our intrinsic needs, we come to desire the more superficial goals.

Unduly strong extrinsic aspirations can thus be understood as representing aspects of a false self.

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Contingent self-esteem is dependent upon attaining these goals. Being continually subjected to contingent love and esteem, particularly when young, we learn to look to external signs as the basis for judging our worth – at first, what our parents showed was necessary, and subsequently what society promoted.

In orienting toward external criteria for judging self-worth, we become particularly exposed to the forces of society and are more likely to adopt the values that society promotes. Not surprisingly, we will tend to adopt the values that are present in advertising, such as accumulating more possessions, and values for which the criteria are very apparent, like wealth, fame, or good looks.

As the true self develops through the practice of encounter, the hold on us that extrinsic goals or aspirations exercise is gradually loosened until it fades away completely.

The true self is free.

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