Motivation is energy. When you are motivated you are energized to move, do, act, create, to focus your attention, to persist in the face of challenge. When you have motivational energy, your goals move from ideas into realities. When we are connected to motivational energy you are empowered from the inside.
Surprisingly, there is so much attention to finding external sources of motivation (motivational speakers, big events with big music and big crowds) and lets talk about learning how to fish – how to find the energy of our motivation by ourselves, in a sustainable ongoing way.
But it is a process that appears to be (frustratingly) beyond our conscious control. Like when we want something, but procrastinate, avoid, or do everything except what we know we need to do.
So, this is a blog that is going to just scratch the surface, just reach out and touch the tip of the iceberg about this complex mystery of motivational energy.
And in NLP we don’t ask ‘why?’ we ask ‘how?’. We understand that for everything we do, a process exists. There is a process when do ‘motivated’ and there is a process when we do ‘procrastinating’. I am going to write a little about both.
To even talk about that I have to describe what I mean by conscious and unconscious. The NLP understanding of the unconscious is not the same as the psychoanalytic one. We just say a lot is going on in our complex system, a lot more memories, more beliefs, more values, more feelings, more everything than we can be aware of at one moment. From a neuroscience perspective, MOST of everything we are thinking, feeling and doing is being managed without our conscious attention (our awareness). But we can become aware of a lot of it, we just have to shift our focus, or attention, to notice more.
And, so we can consciously want a goal, and then we can sabotage ourself, and clearly not behave in line with our conscious mind goal. So, there is more going on than the goal. Some reason that makes sense of the actual behaviour of avoidance and procrastination.
Some common ones are:
And we call this these things, a ‘secondary gain’ – something good about the present situation that acts as a force against change.
So, unfortunately, we are complex beings, capable of having goals that contradict each other and pull us in different directions. When we have two motivational energies in opposition to each other we argue on the inside with ourselves, and we don’t move very fast, or effectively towards anything much.
So for example, If you want to give up smoking and you are well and truly over the physical addiction but you pick up the habit again, you can ask yourself, what do I get from smoking, other than nicotine? Some examples of secondary gain from smoking might be:
So if you worked with motivational energy instead of resisting it and making it wrong, you would be gentle with yourself, you can know that there is an illogical, but the positive intention for yourself, behind every behaviour. And when you stop fighting it, you can get creative.
For example, the smoker in the above example could ask herself, ‘how else can I get a break, how else can I have a moment alone?’ and ‘what is so challenging that I deserve a reward, and how else can I reward myself?’ Instead of just being disappointed in ourselves, we could understand that we are just complex, but that every behaviour, even things that are illogical and irrational, has a positive intention for ourselves.
So, when someone creates a goal in NLP, we ask ‘If you had this goal, what would the other consequences of this change be? Is there any part of you that has a concern?’ When you ask this question, you need to actually permit yourself to notice if there is any hesitation or feeling of concern, you need to ‘clear the screen’ and ‘listen to the quietest voice’. If we hear all the responses to the goal, not just the loud, excited planning voice inside of us, then we can actually just work with all the complexity that can cause our motivational energies to be in conflict, right from the beginning.
And there is one more question we ask (in fact there are lots, but there is one more that is very much about motivational energy). We ask the question that helps someone be conscious of why this goal is so important to them, why they want it in the first place, we ask: “What will this goal give you when you achieve it?” then we say, repeatedly, “ And when you have that, what will that give you?”.
As you ask this question people move away from the concrete outcomes and into the world of abstract values. For example, the image they describe that achieving the goal will give them ‘satisfaction’, the NLP Practitioner or Coach asks “And what will that satisfaction give you?”, the Client will go up a kind of level of energy internally and connect with what drives the need for that satisfaction, they might say “I know I am making a difference”, and if you ask this question, even more, more of the most important drivers will emerge.
It turns out that you only need to take a moment to ask, and you only need to persist for a matter of moments to help another person to become conscious of the deepest drivers of one of the most precious resources for living a good life – their motivational energy.
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