Unit 4 – “Thinks” are seldom what they seem”
Motivation and the Substitute Sense of Self (SSoS)
Introduction and Overview to Motivation
This Method states that understanding and purifying your motivation is the key to developing and maintaining health and a reasonable degree of happiness. In other words, understanding your motivation is a crucial first step if you want to tackle the task of healing yourself from the dependency on a Substitute Sense of Self (SSoS) and move toward Restoring your Sense of Self (SoS).
If you understand your motivations, you have a key to understanding yourself. Why do we do what we do, or avoid doing some things, often at all costs? If we understand what we are actually after, we come closer to seeing the whole picture of ourselves. By figuring out what our ultimate goals are, we get to know ourselves thoroughly and learn what we are all about. Self-knowledge is power! Knowing ourselves fully will enable us to make smart decisions that also benefit others.
Discovering Our Motivations Is Not Easy
In order to be useful, our discovering of our motivations, of this key, requires total honesty with ourselves. That might seem easy enough. It isn’t. Finding out the truth about our deepest motivations is not obvious, nor simple or easy.
It is a challenge because we human beings are masters at denial. We might be ready to admit that we sometimes deceive others by pretending we are closer to our ideal self than we are. Try on the shocking admission that you might be going out of your way to deceive yourself, even for a whole lifetime! Yet that is what many of us are doing!
How Do Our Motivations Develop?
This Method presents a new and holistic approach to the understanding of the human condition and the potential changes that can be made. Our point of departure is that the body, mind, and emotions are continuously in communication with each other, which then results in the way each person is what he or she is in the world right now.
Here’s one way to look at that. You are born with certain qualities and characteristics of who you are on a soul level. If there are few obstacles to your developing a healthy mind and body, then your life circumstances are allowing you to live up to that potential.
But what happens though if there are too many obstacles, and your development, as it could naturally go, is blocked and distorted by some life circumstances? (This actually happens to many of us.) Then nature seeks ways in which your body, mind, and emotions can compensate for the lack-of-growth and/or health-promoting life circumstances.
How does motivation develop differently in those two cases? In a healthy situation, we know motivations by describing the obvious reason why we do something. In the unhealthy situation, motivations become more convoluted. We develop complex patterns of subconscious motivations in nature’s attempt to compensate for our thwarted natural development.
Labeling Motivation as Direct and Indirect
In this section, you will learn how unhealthy motivations develop. First please make sure you understand how a healthy, Natural SoS develops (see Chapter 3). We see how a child’s motivation is formed by its circumstances and environment. Based on that understanding we will discover that motivations can be divided into direct (healthy) and indirect (unhealthy, the result of thwarted development), and you will learn how this comes in turn from and contributes to a healthy or unhealthy SoS. When you will be able to see the connection between a healthy NatSoS and Direct Motivation and how Indirect Motivation points to a SSoS you are on your way to healing!
What Is Motivation?
In this Method, Motivation is generated by the reasons or reasoning we have (consciously or subconsciously) for doing or avoiding doing things. Motivation is the force that drives us to act and the incentive for our behavior. It either refers to a reasoning or force that moves us to act and that is the incentive for our behavior toward a goal that is experienced as desired and that aims at satisfaction (“fun”). But the drive to do or not do something can also be much stronger and reflect our needs or perceived needs for survival (“need”). In this Method, motivation refers more generally to the reasons, either conscious or subconscious, we have for doing or not doing things. It provides us with an agenda of doing what we are motivated to do and provides us the goal of accomplishing whatever we are motivated to do. This distinction of motivation as being fun- or need-oriented will be addressed later in the chapter.
Why Is Knowing Our Motives Important?
Questioning my motivations and coming up with true, sincere answers was the key to getting insights when working through my own self-knowledge toward my healing. Once the insights were there, the potential for healing was created. “What exactly drives me to do what I do, or avoid so strongly what I don’t want to do? What are the real reasons for my choices and behaviors?”
I remember the many instances during the time I worked as a professional bassoonist when I was unable to stop practicing or preparing my reeds. It felt as if my life literally depended on the quality of my performance. In hindsight I can see why I was so compulsive in my preparations for a concert—I could not afford for others to think I was a bad musician and go home with that devastating feeling of having failed to perform well. It felt as if my spirit would evaporate until the next time when I would do well.
“Thinks Are Seldom What They Seem”
Consider these examples of differing motivations, which are hard to spot for the common observer.
Here we have two mothers and each take their child to a music school. Even though to an observer these two people are “doing the same thing,” their motives might be totally different. One might be motivated to develop her child’s talent and help the child be happy in the activities involved in that development. The other might be motivated to have a child who’s a good musician because it reflects well on her as a parent.
The outcome of the experience would therefore be different for all involved. The first mother and child would probably find satisfaction and mutual enjoyment. The second mother and child would probably have stress, fights, tensions, and mutual dislike. And the child might not only rebel at the activities, but feel disempowered, manipulated, resentful, and inauthentic. So why did I get started in music?
Two mothers are complimenting their children after a test at school. It looks as if they are doing the same thing. But their motives could be different, and the effect of the compliment could be different in each case, too.
The first mother might be motivated by unconditional love and recognition of the child’s intrinsic worth, so she is supporting her child’s self-image as capable and loved no matter the test results. The effect of the compliment would be smiles on both faces, a deepening of their bond, and better mental health for the child. The second mother might be giving the child approval, which the child knows is only because of a good test result, a good performance. The child would be glad, but already worried about future failures. The mother might be getting an emotional rush from having a child who appears intelligent to the world, thus reflecting well on her own intelligence, which she isn’t sure is high enough to get her own mother’s approval. The mother’s motive is to have the child do well on future tests.
For the second mother it isn’t really about the child, and a nagging fear of future failure lurks for the child as well as for the mother through the child. The child is a pawn in the mother’s game. The child senses she needs to perform well in order to get “good vibes” from the mother; the mother depends on the child for her “Feeling-good-about-Self” (FgaS) state.