“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose ones own way.” – Viktor Frankl
A big learning curve of any young persons life must be the case of separating choices and opinions from the ego, and motivations in relation to relatedness.
What does this mean?
Well, firstly let’s take a look at motivations. We’d like to suggest that all things we choose to do/say/think are intrinsically motivated i.e. coming from within. On the other hand however, we also create many actions/words/thoughts that are in-fact extrinsically motivated i.e. coming from an external source.
The source I’ve been thinking about if late, is relatedness. (For more, read up on Self Determination Theory) The idea that, based upon a persons perception of self, will dictate their choices with regards to how they perceive this self relating to others, dictating different types of motivation. You see, as humans we like to take the path of least resistance, therefore we like to chunk information together, group things (others) into boxes. It’s easier to understand this way.
The problem with this, as I’ve found, is that this way of perceiving ones self with regard to others perceptions, and therefore being extrinsically motivated due to relatedness, creates boundaries. Invisible shackles that dictate an individuals choices, feelings & even actions based upon their idea of what box they are being put into. Take for example a person who chooses to eat a vegetarian diet. They may view the “vegetarian box” to be more likely to not wear shoes, maybe grow their hair a little longer or even drive a camper van. The same way certain other “types” may be more likely to have a certain car, hair cut, tattoo etc.
Of course, in isolation, this is all fine and dandy. If your dream is to own a camper van or not wear shoes, I commend you. However, in the context of relatedness directly influencing your motivation, not so simple. Living for others ideologies, living because you feel you should do something or else he/she/they may think different of you, is catastrophic..
So what then hinders people breaking from these invisible shackles of others perceptions?
Once a person goes a little deeper into self, and can start to separate thoughts in context, maybe then they can start to realise which sensory experiences are intrinsic & which are extrinsic. To do this, some kind of inner delving must be done. Reflecting, writing in a journal, meditating, concentration practice, awareness..
Then comes the task of confronting the extrinsic..
- Why am I making these choices?
- Do these feelings make me feel good?
- Do they conflict with my intrinsic motivations?
- Why do I care what he/she/they think if I break this habit/opinion/way of being?
Another way to look at this, is via the following..
Some ways that have helped me to separate the intrinsic with the extrinsic are:
- Using a catalyst for change. What I mean by this is using a new opportunity, a holiday, a new friend or anything that provides a chance to reflect without preconceived ideas & opinions from an external source. This may be hard at first, as in many cases it means taking some alone time. Like, actual alone time. NOT time by yourself, flicking through social media ie consuming further idealistic visual garbage (potential slight over exaggeration, but in this context it’s not useful) but time literally alone. Maybe you choose to take long walks regularly in order to create space for mental clarity.
- Vocalising thoughts, means reflecting on them, making them real & more poignant. Further on from my previous point, using a new friend or encounter, this vocalisation will give you an opportunity to reflect, get feedback & reflect some more on these thoughts or feelings.
A book I’m currently reading talks about separating sensory experience into 4 categories. Physical body sensations, Emotional body sensations, Mental images & Mental talk. The idea, similar to the Ancient Roman words, divide et impera, to divide and conquer, which basically means to simplify, break things down mentally into understandable information in order to gain clarity. Ironic.