I NEVER REALIZED –
how much my feelings make me do things!
Previous: For Decisions
REMINDER: Use Acronyms Page for abbrevs.
2. For the INDIVIDUAL – Cont.
f. To MOTIVATE Actions
• Psychologists define motivation as the driving force by which humans achieve their goals (the internal & external factors that cause & direct behavior), and it is our emotions that prepare & drive us to take those actions. The urge to act is hardwired to specific emotions, an automatic built-in part of us. When we feel emotionally, we also feel physically. Our muscles tense or relax, blood vessels dilate or contract…. signaling us to either do something urgently or to stay in our comfortable state
COOPERATION: In spite of many factors that discourage cooperation & maintaining social relationships (self-interest, greed, the pleasure of instant grat….) people do manage to get together & stay together. Emotions allow us the benefits of long-term relationships with people or groups that are important to us, because they provide the self-control that helps us resist the temptation to act irresponsibly or to run away.
✶ This is why it’s imperative to have access to a wide range of Es, and that they be as cleared of damage as possible.
RISK: Action requires risk, & the willingness to take risks is rooted in our emotions, which are themselves based on our moral convictions – those values that do move us, not those that ought to move us.
When we’re confronted with a new experience, new opportunity, new danger – we wonder: Should we be courageous? withdraw? hedge our bets? What’s an appropriate risk? To make sense of an unexpected experience we need to interpret what it means: is it good for us, bad for us or irrelevant? Our values can generate the emotions that inspire up to act.
ACTIVISM: (see ‘Purpose for Es – Survival’ post)
In 1938 Carl Jung wrote: “There can be no transforming of darkness into light or of apathy into movement – without emotion”, indicating the profound role that Es play in shaping & directing human actions. Pro-social emotions such as guilt, empathy, sympathy, caring, and especially justified outrage …. may be used to influence an apathetic groups of people into becoming one of positive action to benefit others in need. These emotions can shape the way a group functions, leading to action strategies that focus either on social stability or social change, depending on the problem.
QUICK RESPONSE: Because Es reflect back to us our reactions to our environment, they can also guide us to act in ways that are useful & appropriate to situations we encounter
Exp: — when you experience pleasure, excitement, joy – you can respond by coming back for more, once or as many times as possible
— if you see your two-year-old son in the middle of the street with a car coming, you feel intense fear. This automatically prompts you to rush out to save him without having to think
OBSTACLES: Emotions can help us overcome obstacles in our life. EXP:
— the anxiety we feels when we’re about to take a test, although uncomfortable, helps motivate us to study so we can do our best
— anger can motivate people to protest injustices, & help them override the fear they might feel at a demonstration or rally
— guilt may keep someone sticking to their diet or finishing a work assignment. It doesn’t mean we should feel guilty, just that it’s what prompts some to follow through with a difficult project or goal
AVOIDANCE: By nature we are motivated to avoid pain & be attracted to pleasure. We choose actions based on what emotion we want to experience or elude. As a kid in school, what determined if you raised your hand to answer a question? It depended on which felt safer / better: the pleasure & recognition of answering it right, or avoiding the embarrassment of getting it wrong
LIMITATIONS: Es cannot fix problems – we can’t ‘anger’ something into a solution. We also need free will. Sometimes we can have a strong desire for something but then don’t create an action-plan. Es may be a driving factor in wanting to change, but they have to be combined with a desire to act in order to become motivation. And once we have the motivation, there has to be actual carry-through – the signals sent to our muscles that allow us to move. However, if Es are too overwhelming, they will prevent us from taking any action at all.
ACoAs have a lot of trouble with motivation. (See posts:
“Autonomy & Attachment“ and “ACoAs & Being Visible” ). In this context it’s because we are so disconnected from our feelings. Emotion is energy for movement. ACoAs have a huge reservoir of unexpressed old pain that weighs us down, trapping all that energy that could be used to take actions. Recovery phrases: “Feel the fear & do it anyway”, “Act yourself into right feelings”
UNDER: ACoAs often don’t ‘feel like’ doing things – so we just don’t. We need to ACT. There are —
— things that some part of us really wants to take, but are too scared to do (go to a class, make friends, play an instrument…)
— that we hate doing but need to (cold calls, taxes…), or
— that have to do with self-care, which we don’t have permission to fulfill (staying healthy, Recovery activities, speaking up for ourselves …)
OVER: Others of us over-DO, not taking breaks when we need them (sick, over-worked, tired…), don’t take time to rest, process or have fun – because of toxic family Roles & distorted beliefs that generate painful emotions like guilt, shame, FoA & S-H. Rather than allowing our emotions to guide (not dictate) our actions, staying extremely busy insures that we don’t have time to feel much of anything!
• When specific actions are important to us or if the consequences of blowing them off are dire – we need to deal with what’s behind our choice of over-action/ under-action – intense resistance caused by our rage, terror & the distorted beliefs or demands of the WIC.
NEXT: Emotional Needs & Innate Resources