Sunday, January 29, 2012

Japanese insights into true motivation

Subtitle: How to be a motivation Samurai!

When I coach people about motivation, I encourage them to find the TRUE, possibly hidden emotional source of their motivation. This is the deep, resonating emotional source that will give you the power to achieve your goal.

Let me explain that this may not be the politically or socially "correct" reasons that you're telling others, or even telling yourself. So often when people want to make a positive change--quit smoking, lose weight, etc., they give the socially expected answer: I want to be healthier, better cholesterol, etc. I work with those folks to get to a DEEPER, more resonant emotional driver, and often times that driver, that motivator, has even been kept hidden because it's socially unacceptable, like vanity, or proving something to themselves or another person.

The Japanese have a great concept, a clear understanding of how this works, both within the individual and in society as a whole. They have two words: Honne, and tatemae. According to Wikipedia, honne is "a person's true feelings and desires. These may be contrary to what is expected by society or what is required according to one's position and circumstances, and they are often kept hidden, except with one's closest friends." I would add that honne can even be hidden to the conscious mind of person them self.

Tatemae is "the behavior and opinions one displays in public. Tatemae is what is expected by society and required according to one's position and circumstances, and these may or may not match one's honne."

Why does this matter to you in goal achievement? I hope the answer is clear. If you're telling yourself what you may be telling others, ("I'm doing it for my health, to reduce my blood pressure,") or some other politically/socially correct reason, that reason doesn't have any emotional power behind it. As all the psychology texts tell us, decisions are always MADE AT THE EMOTIONAL (subconscious) LEVEL, and justified rationally (consciously). You must get in touch with the emotional motivator to have enough long life and strength to your motivation to cross your goal line. The "nice" reasons (tatemae) are paper soldiers that blow over at the slightest puff of breeze, which creates the wishy-washy lack of willpower that leads to backsliding and giving up. The deep reasons (honne) are iron warriors, with the power to keep you going not just in fair weather but through the obstacles and tough days. It's the deep well of emotional determination that has you running in the cold rain because you're training for a marathon, or slugging through the snow, or keeps an athlete playing even through a painful injury.

Oftentimes people censor their motivation, even to themselves, because they're afraid of the feelings connected with their true motivation. Someone in a committed relationship may on some level be afraid of the fact that their true motivation to lose weight is to attract looks not only from their mate, but from others (vanity is one of the seven deadly sins, of course!). Or to make someone else jealous. Or to prove something to an ex. Or they're abbreviating the true feeling.  "if I don't lose weight I'm going to die of a heart attack like my Dad," which carries the uncomfortable emotion of fear, becomes downgraded to "I want to lower my blood pressure."  These true reasons often tap into emotions we're uncomfortable with (jealousy, fear, vanity). But if those motivations carry a powerful emotional charge, those are the reasons and motivators that you need to tap into to have the strength to achieve the end in mind.

 If we deny ourselves the strength of our deep reasons and try to gain emotional energy from messages like, "it will lower my cholesterol," we are turning to a paper soldier to fight our battles, and leaving the iron warrior to rust.  That's because the deep motivation that comes from your subconscious mind has an emotional charge.  That's the clue that those nice, acceptable reasons aren't your true motivation--they're logical and rational, which means they come from your conscious mind.  The conscious mind does NOT DO emotion and it does not do motivation. Now, this doesn't mean that your honne, your true emotional motivation, is always socially incorrect.  It could be that you're pursuing your goal to prove something to yourself, or for some other equally "acceptable" emotional need.  What's really important here is that you understand the correlation that gives you power is "emotional need = motivational strength; rational reasons = impotent goals." Rational reasons don't have an emotional component, coming as they do from the conscious mind, and they will not continue to motivate you.  They sound good, but they don't feel good.

How do we reach that deep motivation?  First, acknowledge that if you have enough motivation to start on a goal that there's probably a deep motivation inside you.  Second, GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to have those strong feelings, even the uncomfortable ones.  It's important to remember that no one but YOU ever needs to know your true motivation, if you judge it as socially "incorrect."  Remember the Japanese definition--honne is often kept hidden. 

Because your deep emotional motivation, your honne, comes from your subconscious mind, I recommend getting in touch with it in a meditative or hypnotic state.  In self hypnosis or meditation, imagine your goal as being achieved and allow all the emotions and images connected with that achievement to flow.  Do this daily and notice the patterns.  What remains consistent, what changes, what feels most powerful and gives you a rush of strong emotions?  Have a friend or a trusted advisor or hypnotherapist use stem sentences with you to get beyond those conscious answers to the deeper ones.  Or perhaps you already know your deepest desires, but you've just not realized the power they hold.  Tap into them.  Allow yourself to imagine that end result and go ahead and feel the feelings without censorship--after all, you're the only one who needs to know!

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