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A Holistic Perspective on Motivation

Posted on 2019-06-30 By Joanna


Motivation is a complex subject that can be approached from many different perspectives. We often associate it with applying a force or willpower to our actions that can lead us towards attainment of specific goals. Motivation, however, is much more than a specific application of force and willpower. In this article, I will describe this process from a more holistic perspective that includes taking into consideration our behaviours, thoughts, emotions, and different states of consciousness.

The most common tips in regard to getting ourselves motivated relate to intellectual level of being, i.e., changing our thoughts and beliefs from negative into positive ones. Although this strategy is often quite useful, being motivated also entails a specific feelings, overall quality of energy and specific state of consciousness that might create a feeling of being in a zone or flow. All these conditions will be unique to each individual because we are all on different developmental levels, we all went through different experiences, and we also have different triggers that mobilise our energy. I will therefore, try to describe my viewpoint from a more universal perspective that can be applied to every individual.

The intensity of motivation can range from simply moving throughout the day effortlessly to being in a flow or having peak experiences where all aspects of our being and experience are in harmony. Regardless of what point of the spectrum we are on, being motivated entails a certain mobilisation of energy. Being motivated feels differently than being demotivated, lazy, or discouraged. Therefore, looking at this concept from a more global perspective, getting ourselves motivated entails a shift of our energy – all components of our being at the same time; both the surface and deeper levels of our being.

In my opinion, feeling demotivated, bored, lazy or apathetic is nothing more than a stagnated energy that is not moving. In addition, this staleness inside us and around us will provoke in us certain thoughts, such as “I don't want to”, “I can't”, “I won't”, “There's no point”. In such state, there is no novelty, no flow, and we oscillate between same thoughts and feelings over and over again. It's pretty obvious why we might feel bored.

Sometimes a little shift will be enough to get us out of the rut - for example, 5 minutes of exercise, highly energetic music, taking a walk, having a cup of coffee. Such strategies might provide a temporary solution but of course, to ride a bicycle, we need to keep moving. That's why it would be more beneficial to make deeper changes that last longer, are more powerful, and mobilise our whole being.

As briefly explained, we can make changes on several levels, organised by the levels of 'density':

  • behavioural (habits, movement)
  • intellectual (thoughts and beliefs)
  • emotional (feelings, mood)
  • spiritual (awareness, consciousness, energy)

Holistically speaking, to make a shift, we need to be prepared to shift all these levels simultaneously. If you just shift your thoughts but are not prepared to change your feelings, the change will be short term and you will soon be pulled back into the emotional state you've been in. If you shift just your spiritual self when your overall state feels more elevated but you remain still with little to no physical movement, the energy you created will not be able to move and you will soon come back to feeling stagnated again.

In additional to our organismic levels, we also have different states or levels of consciousness. For the purpose of simplicity, these are related to the layers of our brain, accordingly to the Triune Brain theory:

  • Reptilian: a part of the brain that developed before the evolution of mammals, responsible for ritualistic and tribal behaviours, aggression, territoriality and instincts.
  • Paleomammalian: concerned with our emotional experience, learning and motivation.
  • Neomammalian: concerned with higher functions such as language and abstract thinking.

Each of these levels is associated with different aspects of our experience, starting from more sensory and concrete based, and ending on more abstract ones. Essentially, each of these levels is associated with different states of consciousness – starting from the most basic and narrow ones, and ending on more expanded and sophisticates ones.

Being motivated is therefore not only about developing harmony between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, but also about synchronising different levels of our being which could be described as survival, connection and self-actualisation.

How we want to approach making that shift will be a personal choice for each of us. For some, it might start from the behavioural level and then shifting other levels one by one. Others might decide to shift the emotional level first and then synchronise all other levels. The key is to make sure that we shift all levels so that no part of ourselves is in conflict with our desire to become and stay motivated.

I personally like to work on the deepest or more subtle levels first – getting in touch with the most ancient part of me, i.e. part of me that is concerned with survival; connect with its energy, and synchronise all other parts of me with it. There are no arguments at this level, no excuses – you either do what you need to do or you put your survival at risk. Pretty straight forward.

The reason I prefer to start the work from this basic level is because it connects me with the most concrete and sensory experience first. Its simplicity makes it easier to navigate my experience and make further shifts. Imagine building a pyramid – it's a common sense to get the solid baseline first, rather than starting from the top.

It's very easy to get lost in our thoughts, and even easier to get sucked into complex emotional world. Coming back to basics when working on motivation offers us an opportunity to build solid fundaments for the future.

If you're ready to make this shift but you're not sure how to start, send me a message!

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