What’s Your Motivation?

Do you ever stop to examine the motivation behind your actions? In fairness, not many of us do – and I would venture to say that none of us do it all the time. Most often those motivations are unconscious, and most often those motivations are rooted at least in part in anxiety.

Ponder this – why do you look out your window to see what your neighbors are doing? When our girls were in their early to mid teens, we had a neighbor who was constantly peering out her window watching what they were doing. Now, I am as proud as the next parent of my kids, but honesty compels me to tell you that they just aren’t all that interesting upon casual observation from behind the next door window. Nevertheless, this woman spent hours peering out her window.

Now, before you rush to say that you would never do such a thing, I hasten to suggest that if you regularly read magazines such as People or Us, or if you watch Entertainment Tonight or some other celebrity-following show, you might as well be sitting with your nose pressed up against your window watching the neighbor kids. In fact, for my money, celebrities are much less interesting than the neighbors – and the neighbors are boring as can be!

Why are you watching? Maybe it’s that you need a distraction from your action filled life. Maybe it’s that you don’t have enough to worry about. Or maybe, it’s something else entirely.

The root of obsessions and compulsive behaviors is anxiety – an overwhelming feeling that unless conditions are just so, something disasterous will happen. My mother was obsessed with botulism when I was a boy. Everything had botulism. We threw away more perfectly good food than we ate. Never mind that botulism can only exist in canned goods, in her mind fresh foods had it as well. When she went to a therapist (at my father’s insistence) she came home tearful saying that he wanted her to kill the family. This is typical of severe anxiety disorders that result in obsessions – unless the person does just the right thing, something terrible will happen. The problem is, of course, these fears are not based in reality and they severely impact the lives not only of those who suffer from them, but of everyone around them. The nosy neighbor is a milder version of this condition.

In severe cases, psychotherapy and psychiatric medications are required. In less severe cases, it may be worth asking yourself why in the world you care about what is going on in other people’s lives. Unless they are setting fires in your backyard, I would almost guarantee their actions have absolutely no impact on your life – regardless of the fact that you have convinced yourself that they do! Unless you force yourself to step back for just a moment and examine your real motivations, you may just find yourself sinking deeper and deeper into a distorted reality and believing that the relatively benign actions of another human being have an impact on your life which is detrimental only because you choose to make it detrimental by attaching to it a significance it doesn’t deserve. The next thing you know, you will be trying to control your neighbor’s behavior by calling the police because the teenagers next door are sitting on their porch with their friends.

Or you might get all exercised over something someone known to you writes in his blog on his own time……

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