Indirect Motivation

We speak of Indirect Motivation, if, instead of a straight line, there is a discrepancy, a gap, between the content of our action or activity and the real incentive that lies at the bottom of our motivation. To the outside world we are focused on the action or activity, but underneath, subconsciously, hidden from ourselves and others, something else is going on. We are using these actions or activities only as a ‘Vehicle’ to get us to a ‘Hidden Goal’. The most basic description of that goal is: to compensate for certain specific lacks we suffered as a child. The goal is to recuperate – through achieving certain kinds of results by our actions and behavior – from the psychological or emotional lack of being regarded as a ‘real person’ by our primary caretaker in infancy.

The Hidden Goal

This hidden goal isn’t visible, on the surface, to the outside world. In fact, unless we make a special effort, it isn’t even visible to ourselves! More about that just below.

When I first started to get to know myself and got some insight in what was at the bottom of my drives, I was pretty surprised to find out that so far my mind had been very skillful at coming up with excuses and justifications for doing what I was doing, without having to even look at the real motivation. What I mean to say is that there always was a legal excuse to get myself to work on my Hidden Goal without even having to face it. That the real goal, in almost everything I did, was finding some sort of a way to get my mother’s approval after all, but then given to me as an adult by my ‘inner parent,’ was hidden for myself as well!

There is a really ‘good’ reason the mind comes up with the excuses and justifications.  It is to guarantee the continuation of the pursuit of the Hidden Agenda, as it is the only objective that really counts for a person with a deficient Sense of your Self. You can say that there’s an addiction operating!  And that addiction was motivated to avoid an intense fear, a terror of being actually ‘annihilated’ as a being, as a person. If I got my ‘fix’ of approval, the fear would be diminished.

Now, we’re talking serious stuff here. Terror of being annihilated as a person is even stronger, I claim, than fear of dying when physical survival is threatened. So we’re talking serious ‘fight or flight’ drives here.

The Substitute-Self-oriented motivations to get approval and a good-feeling-about-self are more than just what psychologists call ‘drives’. They form a whole inner (fictional but powerfully ‘real’) world which keeps us, people without a Sense of Self, going. This fictional world was the biggest part of my identity. Nothing could be allowed to scatter, diminish or fade that false identity because it was my only identity, my only reality as a Being, my only ‘me.’

Why Indirect Motivation leads to failure

The content of the action, nominally a ‘Vehicle’ for the real goal, isn’t the true focus then, and therefore is bound to ‘fail’: if ‘giving a concert’ is the vehicle, there will be a dull sort of performance if any performance at all (Nature comes up with ways to let you know that you are not on the right track: e.g. as a singer you have a cold or a sore throat every time you were supposed to perform. I could give many of these examples but in won’t be hard to find them in your own life, if it applies to you.) After all the concert wasn’t what was getting all your energy and focus: it was in fact a ‘fake-goal’.

Another example: Imagine that I am desperately in need of acknowledgment from my father so I pretend to be interested in what he is interested in: computer-games. I play them all the time (with his virtual approval in my unconscious mind) but I am really bad in it. My mind is scattered and not focused on the actual content of the game, which doesn’t really have my interest, but on the anticipation of his approval and the soothing of my need.

Why Indirect Motivation drives people away from you

It is interesting also to know that, even though nothing unusual seems visible, other people do pick up on that lack of integrity of motivation. They might not get a clear sense of what is going on, but somehow they are inclined to drop their interest and ignore the content or the person for that matter altogether.

Ex.: Imagine listening to a singer. When you are captivated and interested because of what comes across in terms of music or performance or both, the singer is really connected with his or her activity. When there is ‘nothing going on’ and the singer is just getting her lines out you get a sense of: ‘what is this about?’ You don’t quite know why this person is onstage in the first place….chances are inside that person there is a whole story going on that has nothing to do with music. On the outside it may look like a ‘lack of integrity’ and the performance will be dismissed as virtually non-existent which to some extend is the truth.

Or the performer may be judged as ‘aiming for an ego-boost,’ which will be criticized and discarded as inferior behavior. Such an attitude maybe justified from the point of the listener but wouldn’t it be a revelation to know that there lies so much unspoken and un-dealt with pain underneath such a performance. Here is a person in utmost distress trying to accomplish something that other people take for granted: to be seen and heard, only because for some reason or other he had not been in the position to develop a healthy and normal Sense of Self. Here is one reason for compassion for humanity and one example how ‘superficially’ judged egocentric behavior can be the result of unthinkable needs.

So yes, often there is a sixth sense of others to pick up on the fact that something is ‘off’. What actually takes place is that the dependency of the person on the outcome of the quest/action is detected by others as weighing too heavily on them and it is being recognized as not being a part of the agenda of those others. So they don’t buy into the person’s agenda; they are not interested in participating, having sensed that “there is something in the objective of this situation that isn’t the same as mine.” There is ‘a natural selection on what makes it in the world and what doesn’t. It has to do with Motivation! Where do you come from, what is your real Agenda? A lot of suffering can be eliminated through detecting one’s falseness in motivation (e.g. students).

Political Hidden Agendas are not Indirect Motivation

Note that in this theory the distinction between Direct and Indirect Motivation is not to be confused with so-called ‘hidden agendas’ as attributed to politicians or people who are not upfront with their goals. The motives within the person might very well be ‘Direct’, i.e. actually geared towards the success of the person’s actual goal itself e.g. A Senator may promote the building of a parking lot at a certain location because he doesn’t want that a big (unwanted) industry purchases the space…I am sure however that among politicians there is a lot of Indirect Motivation going on but meant on a personal, psychological level.

Where the reader goes next….

or for an illustration of  what is Indirect Motivation go to:  Direct versus an Indirect Relationship with Self , a story