The Drive System

The second system is the drive system. This is often described as our ‘hunter gatherer’ system. In the past, it would help us to get food and shelter and can motivate and energise us to engage in the world. It motivates us to meet our needs, wants and aspirations, and to achieve goals. When this system is active, we are more likely to take on new challenges, and it can make us more alert to opportunities to pursue goals.

When we get what we want, this system rewards us with a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine feels good and is a reward, and because of this, it is there when we are getting what we want in life, when we are where we want to be. Unfortunately, life is often not as easy as this. When we are not getting what we want, or where we want to be, dopamine levels drop. This feels less good, and we may be self-critical and move back into the ‘threat system’.

Overall, drive can be helpful and important to us, it helps us to “get on.”. The problem is when it becomes over used, as we can burn out, over work, and find ourselves back in threat.