Examine your motivations

We want the things we want for good reasons, right? Helping others, enjoying life more, having new experiences, growing and learning are all good, honest, pure reasons. But sometimes there are other reasons, reasons we may not admit to ourselves or even be aware of consciously. Just like negative emotions and self-imposed limits, these hidden reasons can hinder our progress.

Misguided Motivations

"Jealousy and Flirtation" depicts a ...

Jealousy is poor motivation, whether you are the one feeling it or you are trying to make someone else feel it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve probably asked yourself why you want the things you want. If you haven’t, do so. If you have, do it again. There are very few cases of wanting something for only one single reason. If a desire is strong enough for you to seek a method of manifesting it, then there are probably multiple reasons why you want it.

Take the common desire for greater wealth. If you have made a practice of giving, then one reason you probably want more money so that you can give more. You probably tell yourself that and it is probably true. If you are a parent, you probably also want more so that you can give your children a better life. But don’t you also want more so that you can live a more comfortable lifestyle? Don’t you also want to be able to enjoy life more, take trips, have nice things? There’s nothing wrong with that. The term “selfish motivations” has a negative connotation, but honesty is of utmost importance here. Wanting nice things isn’t evil. Things only become a problem when you become too attached to them, or seek them out at the expense of other areas of your life or other people. There’s nothing wrong with seeking wealth in order to enjoy life.

But do you want money to impress people? Do you want money to make others jealous? What about to gain power over others? Be honest with yourself. Have you had thoughts like, “Oh, I’d love to see that stupid jerk’s face when he hears about this,” or, “I’m sure she’ll like me more when I’ve got this.”

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

Take a little time to dig deeply and honestly into why you truly want what you want. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These motivations hinder us, because they focus our attention outwards and away from
our true goals. Instead of thinking, “I’d like to have this money so that I can enjoy nice things,” you’re actually thinking, “I want to make so-and-so jealous and having this money would be a good way to do it.” It makes what you think you want secondary to the goal of making the other person jealous. It splits your emotional and spiritual strength and divides your attention, even if you don’t realize it.

If you examined your motivations honestly and found some like this hidden away, don’t be too worried. Usually they are more easy to get rid of than you might think. Once they are uncovered and brought out into the light, they tend to simply dissolve away. Face them, admit them, and know that they are simply remnants of your old way of thinking. Know that you are living your life for you and no one else, and you have no need or desire to impress anyone else or hold power over anyone else.

Wanting friends and relatives to be proud of your success is natural, and there is nothing wrong with that. The problems creep in when you turn your success into a secondary objective, a means to the end of impressing someone else, making them jealous, etc. Want what you want for you and for your children, and don’t worry about the rest of it.

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