What’s my motivation? That is the plaintive question of every method actor. A method actor can figure out a role based on that question, but if they don’t empathize well with the character they’re portraying, then it leads to what is called the “ham factor.” Don’t know what a ham actor is? Watch Charlton Heston in the 10 Commandments, Planet of the Apes, or well, just about anything that he’s in really.
Knowing what motivates you to do something is a good thing, with that said, however, sometimes, it’s not such a bad thing to question our true motivations, and to not let method acting seep into our lives. Here’s an example:
“I hate going to work.”
“Then why go?”
“Because I have to.”
So you’ve answered the question “what’s my motivation?” But perhaps the answer isn’t as simple as you might think. You do not have to go to work. You choose to go to work. If you don’t work, it’s unlikely that you will be able to:
- Pay your rent or your house payment
- Pay your car payment and insurance
- Buy food
- Pay the electric bill
- Pay the water bill
- Pay all of your other expenses
You Always Have a Choice, Don’t Surrender Your Power Over Yourself
You can stop working at any time, but you want to be able to do all the things above, plus have a little money for yourself and those you love. It’s important to remember that you are choosing to work and say that aloud. “I choose to work, so that I can pay my expenses and have money to live.” When we choose something we feel better about it then when we think we have to do something. That’s the difference between empowerment and being a victim. But why is victimhood so prevalent? First off, it’s encouraged by our society. Take a look at consumerism.
Advertisers target an illusory need, and aim for our subconscious. Don’t have the latest IPhone or Samsung Galaxy? You need it! Go! Go now! Supplies are running out! So you go to the mall, and sit down in line, maybe even camp out, so you can get the latest IPhone from the Apple store. You’ll shell out a lot of money and buy the phone, and for a while it is great. It’s way better than your last phone. It’s faster, more stylish, and you think you’re the envy of all your friends and family. And that’s why you really did it isn’t it? What’s my motivation? Why to impress others with how awesome you are. If you don’t have the latest gadget, then why you’re nothing. You’ll always have one friend who will smugly show off the fact that their phone does one thing that yours can’t, because it’s an IPhone, or a high level Android.
To add to your awesomeness, you spend time feeding the homeless down at a shelter, not because you want to truly help. You’re doing it for a bit of esteem currency. Later on you’ll get a lot of status by dropping an offhand remark, “I helped feed the homeless the other day.” You’ll get the oohs and ahhs you crave and hunger for. You can feel better about yourself. See, you’re not selfish at all. Yes, you spent a lot of money on yourself buying a new phone, but you fed the homeless. The problem with this sort of thinking is that after awhile your spiritual balance starts to crumble.
The Four Primary Goals
Sun-Tzu wrote that everyone is guided by four primary goals that all other goals spring from, these are:
- Avoidance of Responsibility
- Love (Respect)
You get into a fight with your significant other. If your goal is power, then you don’t care about resolving the dispute. You just want to win the fight. This is purely a power goal. To someone motivated by pleasure, they will pursue their pleasure at whatever cost. Avoidance of responsibility is pure undiluted victimhood. “It’s not my fault because of ______.” However, going for a goal of love and respect starts with yourself. Think about your actions. Are you doing it for self-love? Are you doing it because you love someone else, or out of respect for them?
Understanding why you do something always carries over into our ritual practice as well. You cast a spell for money with a motivation of greed. You might get what you want only to find that no matter what you never have enough money. Or you could cast a money spell to get enough money to get out of debt as well as take care of your daily expenses.
You want to find the love of your life. Again, what’s your motivation? Do you want this someone to be nothing more than an accessory? A bit of eye candy or arm candy to show off? Or do you want to find someone because you are lonely and want a live a happier more fulfilling life?
You have to plan a ritual. Why do you? Are you doing it because you want to observe the passage of time in your own way, and give yourself a memory to carry forever, or are you doing it because you feel obligated to do it?
Sometimes, our motivations are based not on our open desires, but on habits. That’s one reason why people sometimes get threatened by change. Change disrupts our habits, and the patterns we build around them.
Don’t second guess yourself, however. Sometimes your motivation is fairly simple, other times, you have to think about it. When in doubt, a good way to examine your motivation is to keep asking why you are doing something. When you come up with an answer that you can’t argue, then you will know why you should take action, or choose another option. If the answer to your question is “I don’t know,” then it is a good time to pause and think things over.
When you examine your motives and motivation, and realize that you always have a choice, it is then that you start to grow spiritually. And, you’ll often stand amazed at how free you feel.
“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key.”
Already Gone-The Eagles, Written by Jack Tempchin, Robb Strandlund