Acting on our innate motivations

What experience ​​​​results from​ behaving in alignment with our innate motivations?

a) Enthusiasm​

b) Pride

​c) Confidence

d) Commitment

E) other: [________________]

​There are a few possible experiences that could result from behaving in alignment with our innate motivations, right? Rather than focusing much yet on any one specific label for the experience that results from that aligned activity, let’s consider a short, simple example.

​​Imagine that a grandparent is watching their young grandchild walk for the first time or perhaps ride a bicycle for the first time. What words could we use to describe the​ typical ​​experience of that grandparent? We could say that they are excited​ or thrilled or simply grateful to witness the event. The grandparent might say to the child, “I am ​happy for you” or even “I am ​so proud of you!”

For an older child ​(​who is more skilled in the use of language​ than a toddler)​, they might say something slightly different about their first ​time successfully riding a bicycle without any training wheels. The child might say, “​That was awesome!​ ​I am so proud of myself.”

​Like the grandparent, t​hey are ​also excited and ​grateful. They have demonstrated their skill ​or competence at some activity of interest to them.​

Some people use the word confidence ​to refer to a perception of competence. However, people can be confident about skills that they do not currently consider important.

​How about pride? Would someone be proud about a competence that they do not consider important?
Consider that confidence and pride are experiences that only result from a perception of competence or accomplishment.​​​ So, back to the question on the first page, those COULD result from behaving in alignment with innate motivations. However, confidence about a skill that is important to someone (AKA “pride”) is not the automatic result of simply behaving in alignment with innate motivations.​ For pride or confidence, there must be a distinct perception of success.

What is the experience of simply acting in alignment with innate motivations (like even without knowing how successful the actions will be or have been)? I do not mean the experience of contemplating a future action that is going to be in alignment with innate motivation (which I would call enthusiasm). Again, that is not the result of actually taking the action, but the result of an anticipation of a future action.

If you recall the four choices provided at the top, we have now covered three of them. All three that we have covered are “close” to what I consider the very best answer. We could even say that they are all correct (or at least partly correct).

Even right before someone acts in alignment with their innate motivations, there will already be enthusiasm (natural, spontaneous excitement), right? Soon, there may also be confidence, and (as long as the confidence is in relation to something that innately motivates them) then that will be the specific kind of confidence called pride.

I will quickly introduce another term here for convenience. When we take action that is in alignment with our innate motivations, I am going to call that “whole-hearted action.”

So, what results just from taking “”whole-hearted action” (without regard to the effectiveness of the action) is what I call the experience of commitment. Before the action is taken, there may already be curiosity or enthusiasm or some other signal of the activating of motivation, but how would there already be commitment (before the taking of any action)? The experience of commitment comes as a  result of action!

​We take the action and then the immediate experience is “whole-heartedness.” The motivation is activated. There is a kind of excitement (or even pride) just in acting in accord with our innate motivations. We can call that ​excitement or activation of motivation by the label “commitment.”

Can people use the word commitment in others ways that what I just mentioned? People might say “I made a commitment,” which is not about an experience of commitment. They are talking about an activity of committing to something in the future.

The stating of a future social commitment may be done in alignment with an actual experience of commitment. Or, the stating of a future social commitment may be done to distract from or hide a particular experience of commitment.

Be clear that the spontaneous experience of commitment (which can be stated or verbally denied) is not a social act of communication. The experience of commitment is the instant result of taking action that is in alignment with innate motivation. The experience of commitment is very distinct from experiences like boredom or social anxiety or frustration.

The experience of commitment signals a perceived alignment between one’s actions and one’s innate motivations. In the absence of the experience of commitment, that means that there are no actions being taken that are in alignment with one’s innate motivations. There may be other actions (like habitual rituals) that might have been in alignment with one’s motivations at a prior time. But unless the current actions are in alignment with innate motivation, there is no instant experience of commitment to those actions (as being currently aligned with one’s internal motivations).

​One obvious indicator of commitment is the repeated taking of some action even when there is no external encouragement for it. In fact, there may be occasions in which people take actions that they predict will be risky or “socially sensitive.”​ Someone may want to keep taking an action, but either keep the activity private or present a socially-acceptable pretense to minimize “social complications.” They may experience motivations or commitments that are socially discouraged (like with clear threats of specific punishments).

However, the commitment means that they will be open to new actions that are aligned with their motivations. They are not fixated on a specific action. They are energized by the motivation and ALL actions in alignment with the motivation will produce commitment. Any experience of commitment will tend to increase momentum for more of the same action as well as more experiments with other actions also in alignment with innate motivations.

​Now, I am presenting here a formula for experiencing both commitment and pride. People may already experience a clear sense of commitment, yet without pride in their results. So they would be interested in increasing the effectiveness of their “whole-hearted” activities.

For others, ​they may not even have a clear sense of commitment. They may not be taking many new actions at all. They may be taking familiar actions with a sense of ongoing disappointment in themselves for continuing with those actions (such as shame). In that case, the experience of shame is a signal to stop or at least slow down those actions and re-align with one’s innate motivations. Social pressures may program us to ignore, suppress, or even voice shame (condemnation) about certain motivations.

All actions that we take are taken because the actions fit with our perceptions and circumstances at the time we first take that action. However, in the case of habits, we may continue certain patterns of activity long past the point of relevance. We may initially experience commitment in relation to those actions, then later experience boredom or frustration or shame.

At some point, we might question what are the innate motivations that are most common? ​What are the universally accepted desires of all living things?

First, there is the very obvious motivation for individual survival. It has two common forms. One form is to accurately perceive and then effectively avoid any potential immediate threats to survival.

Also, living things naturally attempt to minimize or totally prevent future encounters with possible threats to their survival. They want to be effective at identifying all possible threats (or at least the most serious threats), then also be effective at neutralizing or avoiding those threats.

We can add the importance of learning here. What are we most curious about (even fascinated)? We can be very intrigued by things that we think may help us as individuals to survive.

In addition to individual survival, there is also the motivation for genetic survival. That includes the motivation to reproduce as well as to promote the survival of one’s own offspring (which can be very intense) and even the survival of extended family or kin (such as the herd or flock or clan).

We want “our people” to do well. We want them to experience health, wealth, safety, pride, commitment, and so on.

We care about “whoever we care about most” more than the care about “people in general” or “living things in general.” We can respect the existence of social competiveness and social competitions, plus we want to excel socially and to witness our offspring and kin excel socially.

​We respect the existence of social threats (in which powerful individuals or groups​ may attempt to confuse the masses in regard to innate motivations and even to promote shame in regard to innate motivations). As part of our activity of socially competing, we may even participate in the constructing of social threats to others.

We respect the existence of programs to create emotional dependencies on social validation. We may attempt to reform those programs or passionately condemn them or simply participate in them (or all of that). Depending on exactly what results we wish to produce, such as promoting a particular social perception of us or ​promoting terror and shame in others, we take exactly the actions that we take.

Untangling ​p​ride from arrogance

The word pride has been used in many popular translations of ancient scriptures in languages other than English. However, we can also see that in some of those translations by other translators, a different word than pride is used, such as vanity or arrogance.

As stated earlier, pride is a type of excitement or gratitude or confidence, like a grandparent’s pride​​ in relation to a young child who has just developed the ability to walk (or talk etc)​…. To be brief, let’s think of vanity and arrogance as labels for the experience of being anxious about whether other people perceive us to be proud (or at least confident). If we want them to think of us as proud (like because we are ashamed rather than proud and we are scared that they might recognize what we really are), then that could be called vanity and in that vanity we take actions that other people will label as arrogance.

We may over-state our own skill. We may ridicule the competence of others. We may be hysterically threatened by any “offensive” questioning of our competence (or even threatened by mere skepticism or “insufficient” displays of enthusiasm/ political correctness, etc…).

​Finally, here are a few words about modesty. Modesty refers to the pattern of activity of exploring discretion in regard to which behaviors and ideas of our own to display socially (to whom, when, how, etc…).

Modesty is not the absence of pride (the sense of competence in skills that one deems important and in alignment with their innate motivations). Modesty is a kind of confidence in which someone has pride and does not need other people to validate their experience of pride (or even to know about it). Modesty means being aware that other people may be socially risky or threatening and then taking actions that fit with accurately assessing risks, then neutralizing or avoiding risks (preventing social complications).

In conclusion, if a 2 year-old suddenly announces that there is a very important phone call for you, do you “answer the phone call?” In case the following detail would affect what you would do, then let’s assume, hypothetically, that on this particular phone there is little or no slobber.


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