Why we Push Ourselves so Hard

It is hard to tell why humans do some of the things we do. Everyone has a different personal motivation. Human behavior is difficult to study due to the hundreds of variables. The best we can do is get groups that behave similarly and pull from information from the group behavior. Cultural norms also play a part in how all of this works. One interesting aspect of modern humans is their constant state of motivation. Many people push themselves to accomplish daily and long-term goals that far exceed what may be expected of the average person, even if it negatively affects their health. Here are a few reasons people are exhausting themselves to get things done.


This is a simplified ideal of what happens when we do something good. In school, we were given stickers or a treat for getting good grades. The grade itself is also a reward, even though many do not see it that way until we are older. Athletes keep going to get a medal or a trophy. Something good comes out of the activity, even if we don’t like the actions. Athletes seem to be in a different category, however. They often love the sport they have chosen and may be happy be able to do it.  People in this situation, however, may have a hard time getting motivated when there is no reward. They may also have trouble figuring out what to do when the reward has been reached and a new goal must be made.


The necessity of getting bills paid makes some people take on two or three jobs. This type of motivation is sheer survival. Our ancient ancestors kept hunting food and fighting other tribes to be able to survive. This was complete necessity. Entire groups formed bands of warriors to keep their land safe. They may not have wanted to sacrifice their lives, however, they felt like they had to. Soldiers today take on the same responsibilities. Most of us get up every day and take care of things that are necessary.


Parents are a prime example of this motivation. They often get up and do night feedings and drive kids around down because they took on the responsibility. This can apply to a lot of other things in life. Kids may later take on the responsibility of caring for parents, even though this can disrupt their entire life. Someone may take a job to make money because he is responsible for a family, even if the job is extremely draining. People also tend to feel responsible for some things that they shouldn’t. Young kids that feel they have to take care of incompetent parents, for example.

Exterior Forces

In some culture groups the parent’s wishes weigh heavily on the children. They may be forced to study music, math, or compete in a sport. The expectations to complete these tasks perfectly over a long period of time can be draining. This often goes on for years. Kids may learn to push themselves even harder to receive favor from the parents. They cannot stand the thought of being ignored. Kids have grown up to be accomplished in many things they may not even like.

Fear of Punishment

This is something that begins when kids are extremely little. They are often punished with a little slap on the hand or a firm “no.” This is one situation where we want them learn and obey. Some parents, may take it too far, however. This leads kids to believe, for years, that they are not good enough. They may push themselves later on in life, as well. This fear can follow them to many other situations or relationships. They may never feel truly safe or accepted until they recognize their motivation and get help.

Inner Motivation

Some people truly have a ton of energy and desire. Some are fortunate enough to find something they enjoy, such as a subject in school. They may push themselves to reach their personal goals, such as a master’s degree. These individuals often come from well-rounded homes with supportive parents. Their motivation comes from wanting to achieve a personal goal. They usually have many people cheering them on, as well. This is the healthiest form of pushing oneself and does not exist in a lot of situations. It does, however, bring out the best in humanity.

Trying to Escape

Some people push themselves to impossible boundaries because they are trying to get away from something. This may from a traumatic experience, or an unsafe situation. Women in abusive relationships may work extra hard and rarely sleep to get out of the situation. Kids that grow up poor may push themselves to get a better education and be better financially situated than their parents. Some people are running from experiences that have hurt them and use different accomplishments to help them forget. For example, someone may get up and workout every day. This may continue no matter how exhausted they are. They may be trying to outrun childhood memories of being called fat.

Humans are motivated by a large number of things. It can be difficult to get the motivation to do some things, while we push ourselves extremely hard on others. There are many different factors that contribute to these choices. These may be cultural, personal, and even things in our minds from long ago. Take the time think about your accomplishments and what drove you to those moments.

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