The word ‘vehicle’ is used throughout this website with a meaning special to this Theory. It indicates an action, activity, event, or behavior used subconsciously as a tool or means to achieve an unhealthy emotional ‘high‘ of feeling-good-about-oneself’ via approval, which substitutes for an abiding sense of being a ‘real person.’ In absence of the parent/caregiver the internalized judge gives this approval.

So the ‘vehicle’ activity in itself is only a tool or a (subconsciously operating) cover–up for creating an opportunity to experience success in achieving a subconsciously-accepted condition or requirement for being or behaving. That success is expected to ultimately lead through the Hidden Goal of feeling ‘high’ on approval, to the unhealthy version of a sense of being a real person.

In the sequence of what goes on inside a person’s subconscious when they have Indirect Motivation, selecting a ‘Vehicle’-of-the-moment is the first step:

• Select Vehicle (particular activity, behavior, situation, event available at the moment) for carrying out an
Ego-Reference (condition, requirement of being or behaving) which, if successfully achieved, will accomplish the
Hidden Goal which will result in
• the emotional ‘high’ of ‘feeling-good-about-oneself‘ which is experienced as
• the (unhealthy) Substitute Sense of Self.

Example of using an activity as a ‘vehicle’: Playing a musical instrument to ultimately get the acceptance of the Mother or – later in life when the Mother is gone – the internally-generated SSoS. This is how that works:
• Vehicle: Practicing a musical instrument in order to
get the Mother’s interest and attention through being a (good) musician (which is the
Ego-Reference if that is what the Mother likes) which will result in accomplishing
Hidden Agenda of being listened to or admired and getting Mother’s appreciation (Enmeshment) which results in
• the emotional ‘high’ of ‘feel-good-about-Self
• which is the person’s form of experiencing their Substitute Sense of Self.

The playing is not done to simply enjoy making music.

The need for approval in order to feel alive is so compulsive and so desperate that Ego-Reference are experienced as requirements to be fulfilled or conditions to be met ‘as a matter of life and death.’ They are adopted in early childhood – and they operate throughout life – below conscious awareness of what is going on.

The ordinarily expected goals of the behaviors that are used for the purpose of obtaining the desired psycho-emotional result are not the ‘real’ goal of the person engaging in them. The desired psycho-emotional result of ‘feel-good-about’Self’ is a subconscious Hidden Goal. That is why the motivation that instigates them is being called Indirect Motivation. If an activity or behavior functions a vehicle to a hidden goal the outcome is highly negatively influenced. If an activity or behavior is functioning as a ‘vehicle’ at the moment, toward a ‘Hidden Goal’, then the ordinarily expected goals of the activity or behavior are likely to be not very successful, for a variety of reasons. (See Self-Sabotage and Inner Conflict.) In other words, using an activity or behavior as a ‘vehicle’ subverts the ordinary kind of success one might want from that activity or behavior.

The term ‘vehicle’ is used throughout this website.