Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Checking my motives

After several years in Al-Anon, I am finally understanding how crucial it is to look at my motives before taking any action or making any decision. My motives are are the seeds from which all my actions sprout.

Something I have been learning to do in the last couple of years is to think about what I want to say, and then to decide if it is important for me to say it.  I am responsible to take care of myself  by speaking my truth.   I am also responsible for how I say what I say.   I have to decide if I have to say it for myself,  and allow the other person to do or not do whatever they are going to do. I realize that nothing I say will make another do what I think they "should" do.  It is the T.H.I.N.K. acronym--is what I am saying thoughtful, helpful, intelligent, necessary and kind.

For me, my true motives may be unclear in the heat of the moment.  I still have a tendency to want to do things that are unhealthy for my emotional well being.  I used to stick around for unacceptable situations simply because I didn't think that I deserved any better.  Now,  I do know that I can sort out my thinking in time, so that I realize what my motives were at the time I opened my mouth or made a bad decision.  It has helped me to not react until I have asked myself what my underlying feelings are at the moment.  I have done so many things just to please another or because I was afraid of a negative reaction.  I let fear dictate my actions--fear of loss, of abandonment, of worthlessness.

After a few years in Al-Anon,  I can ask myself what my motives are and use prayer, meditation, the steps and traditions, and my sponsor to check whether I am in "right" thinking.  When I find myself with an especially strong urge to do or have something, its particularly important to check my motives to find out what I really want.

Let it be your constant method to look into the design of people's actions, and see what they would be at, as often as it is practicable; and to make this custom the more significant, practice it first upon yourself.   Marcus Aurelius


  1. I agree and I love the quote, ... "practice it first upon yourself".

  2. Not every action is going to have a motive, or a preconceived idea of an outcome. Sometime we just do without thought. That is not always a road to a bad outcome. I could not see thinking about every word or move I make before I say or make it. I personally would be forever in stasis.

  3. I always have to think about this. The Dr. Phil question, "Do I want to be happy or do I want to be right?" I used to want to be right. Now I'm older, more tired, older... and I want to be happy. I check my motives and pick my battles.

  4. I feel like I AM forever in stasis.

  5. A very dear Al-Anon friend once passed on this very wise saying...
    "so..say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean "
    I try but sometimes it's easier said than done!
    Thank you, Syd, for your wonderful blog. I read it every day.

  6. This was one of first, and most helpful lessons I received from my first sponsor. It helps me to decide if I am able to let go of saying, what doesn't need to be said.

  7. This is helping me to decide about something I am wondering if I need to say to someone.
    Thank-you, as always, Syd.

  8. Wise words here, Syd.

    Love to you,


  9. I like the emphasis on motivations. I used to be so very blind to those, and my anger would carry me far from my hoped for destination. Until I realized what my intentions were.... I got into so much trouble.

    My qualifying person is my mother, who functions like a dry drunk. My husband would sometimes advise me to ask what my mom's intentions were. But I knew that, even more than me, she acted largely out of unconscious motivations.

    So, I have learned to turn the question on me. What, Smitty, are YOU wanting from this situation? For after all, I am the only one whose heart I can divine, and the only one who I know is willing to go to any length for inner peace..

  10. I haven't said hello in a while...just wanted you to know that I learn a lot reading your posts!

  11. Still love each reflection of this beautiful program! :) Thanks Syd!

  12. I love the focus on motive because I find it one of the best ways to tell if I am on the right foot. I have saved myself a lot of pain and harm by making sure my heart is in the right place before I speak, and retreating and conferring when my motives are not clear or else I can tell I have a desire to punish. great post syd as such an important aspect of good communication in my opinion.. :) So happy that you and C have found a better way :)

  13. "I let fear dictate my actions--fear of loss, of abandonment, of worthlessness."

    Oh, yeah. This.

    Always and with most everything, this.

    I made a futile attempt to examine my motives, but I was spinning in the wrong direction without the help of an Al-Anon elder to point me in the right direction. Thanks for posting this.

  14. Yes, thank you for this. I have a problem with determining my motivations as it gets like peeling an onion, and I get so confused I end up never doing anything.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.