Three Levels of Motivation
by Michael Mamas

We can say that motivation exists on three levels:

1) Motivation of Communion

At the source of your being, your motivations are based upon that place inside that is already fine, that is pure. In that place, your motivations involving your relationships with other people are quite laudable. They are to perpetuate the feeling of communion in love, to make things better, and to be in support of all concerned. It’s a very positive and life-supporting sort of motivation that is inherent to your own true nature. From that pure place, what motivates us is the desire to share that purity with others.

2) Subconscious Motivation

At the depth of even the most wicked person, is loving, compassionate, pure intent. What that person does may be totally inexcusable, but at the depth of even a murderer’s being is purity.

As stress accumulates in the physiology, the psyche gets distorted. What is that underlying motivation at the purest level? It’s communion. It’s love. Babies right out of the womb radiate it. That’s why we love them. They don’t care about belief systems, models, or identities. All they care about is Mommy and Daddy’s love.

Little kids just want to feel loved. If Mommy says, “You’re bad if you do this,” they try not to do it. When Mommy says, “You’re good,” they feel her love. This is where the overlays start to take root. Children begin to identify with whatever behavioral modality seems to get them what they long for: communion and love. Over time, the purity of that underlying motivation becomes shrouded underneath the identity overlays.

In our daily life, we get identified with this second level of motivation. Yet, it is also hidden from our conscious mind. Getting in touch with your hidden motivations is a major part of tilling the soil of your own inner landscape. It is very much about self-honesty. The motivation behind what you do or what you say can be very elusive at times.

3) Conscious Motivation

The third level of motivation is the most superficial. It’s the motivation that we are clear about and comfortable with in our conscious awareness. We believe, and tell ourselves and others, that it is our real motivation.

You can say to somebody, “I love you,” and believe you are being honest and straightforward. However, you can simultaneously have a hidden underlying motivation that says, “I hate you,” that it is actually based on: “I hate you because you don’t love me, so I want to make you feel bad by telling you that I love you.” But it is not stated or even understood. Where you think your motivation comes from is actually only the surface.

Of course, simultaneously, you have the underlying pure motivation based in the longing for communion, love, and mutual support. However, this deepest purest love is usually hidden from view, buried under the stress in the psychophysiology that creates our more superficial and distorted motivations.

Questions to facilitate your inner exploration:

  1. Think of a recent conflict you had with someone, and remember the things you said to that person.
  2. What did you tell yourself your motivation was for saying those things?
  3. Can you identify a more hidden motivation that was making a very different statement or had a different intent than what you told them, as well as yourself?
  4. Look even more deeply to identify a place within you that had a deeper longing that lay at the very basis of this interaction (the place where you long for the purity of communion and mutual appreciation with that person).

© Michael Mamas, 8/10