What’s Your Motivation?

Actors employ a technique involving asking themselves what their character’s motivation is, for their words and actions. By knowing where they’re coming from, and bringing their performance in line with that, they’re able to give a more natural, true to life performance.

Most of the time, in our day to day lives we act without considering our motivation. But if your goal happens to be changing a pattern of behavior, or getting over emotional wounds from the past, or just becoming a so called “better person”, considering your motivation is possibly the most powerful thing you can do in any given circumstance. It also tends to be difficult a challenge.

Let’s say you decide to be more peaceful. Maybe you’ve had some anger issues, and want to put any sort of vengeful, aggressive, or just mean behavior behind you. Perhaps in a moment of peaceful introspection you discover, “I love feeling this way. I want to be kind to people. I want to be an instrument of peace, just like Saint Francis, or just like my therapist, or just like, I don’t know, Mr. Rogers.” By the way, people love to make fun of the late Fred Rogers. I think of him as a true saint. A saint in a sweater vest!

Anyhow, in that peaceful, inspired moment, you decide you want to become a nicer guy or gal. That’s a good and worthy goal to have. Also, an ambitious one. Because if you’ve tended to be angry, and act angrily toward people, guess what? You’ve got some anger inside. At some point in the past, you were mistreated and hurt, and there’s a world of pain in you, with a thick layer of anger covering it over. You don’t want to get hurt again, and anger’s become the habitual response to any sort of threat, to try and keep that from happening. We’re not just angry for no reason, right?

So, next time someone says something that might be in some way threatening, say they tease you about your toupee, you find yourself getting testy. All of a sudden, your notion of becoming a peace pilgrim flies out the window. Now you’re cooking up all kinds of responses, with just the choicest words, to put that smartass in their place. Oops! There’s that old anger, and it’s coming right up inside of you.

As long as you keep running on the anger track, that is, as long as you continue to dialog with yourself about what you’re going to say to that person, you’re not doing anything to change your way of being. And it’s rather hard to even notice that you’re running on that track. That’s because when we start reacting, it tends to take over our entire consciousness. We’re making our own drugs inside, and watching our own movie, popcorn and all, and it occupies our whole system. Next thing you know, you’re writing an email, or saying something you’ll later regret, being all self righteous and defensive.

But if at any point during that process you stop and ask yourself, “What’s my motivation behind this?”, or “Where am I coming from?” and give yourself enough space to get really honest, you’d probably have to admit, “Well, this is coming from my anger”. And at that point, you have a chance to consider whether coming from there really fits in with your goal of becoming more peaceful. Every time you catch yourself with anger coming up, and shift out of your habitual pattern of response, you’re moving forward toward your goal.

If that anger pattern is pretty well established, you’re probably well conditioned to the drugs your body makes when the feeling kicks in, and on some level you might even like it. It can be addictive, so, it can take some real effort to pull back out of that energy, and let it go. But that’s the way we make real progress. And it begins by asking the question, “What’s my motivation”, or if you prefer, “Where am I coming from?”

It doesn’t have to be anger. Maybe you’re trying to get over a pattern of trying to please everyone, being a doormat. You find yourself on the phone with a friend who’s asking you to take care of their cat while they’re in Hawaii. You’re thinking, “Oh, I guess I could do that, if I take off time from work, and buy some cat food, and take allergy medication so the cat doesn’t bother me, and…” Or, if you’re in the habit of checking your motivation, you’d go, “Wait a minute. Why am I agreeing to this?” If you’re honest with yourself, you realize you’re just buying into that old people-pleaser pattern, and you say, “Sorry, I can’t cat-sit, but have a nice trip”.

This same technique works with fear, sadness, insecurity, arrogance, jealousy, judgment, or just about any negative pattern of expression you’re trying to break free from. In fact, any time you’re feeling stressed, if you ask yourself this simple question, “Where am I coming from?”, you give yourself an opening to break free.

Any time you’re feeling stressed, it’s a signal you’re not happy with yourself on some level. And it’s almost always some unconscious, negative pattern at work. By questioning your motivation, you bring what’s normally unconscious into the light. Once you can see it, you can make choices about changing it. Otherwise, you’re just running on autopilot.

Another way of asking this question is this: Is what I’m holding onto inside neutral or loving? If it’s neither, you can be sure that letting it go will serve you best. What’s my motivation? Is it neutral or loving? If not, just let it go. And if you happen to be caught up in a negative frame of mind, the technique I gave you just a few podcast episodes ago will work very nicely to get you out of it.

I don’t know anyone, including even the greatest spiritual masters in the world, who are not evolving and growing. That’s just what we do here. We’re all working on something. How conscious we are of the process, and how much we cooperate with  the process – that’s an individual thing. If you’d like help moving forward along your path, I welcome you to look into the more than 70 programs and courses available at The Healing Waterfall. They’re all designed to help us heal, grow, and take the next step forward into love. Learn more, hear samples, and pick the ones that feel right for you. Please enjoy, and thanks for listening.