Intrinsic Motivation: A Paradox



This is a topic I’ve always had a bit of trouble with grappling since I started writing, since I started lifting. Although, I think I’m beginning to understand the complexity of intrinsic motivation or motivation from within.

What got me wanting to write about that was a YouTube video entitled ‘No One Cares How Much You Leg Press’ by Omar Isof. This is the link. I was curious just by the title about the content of the video, and to my delight, it got me thinking. Omar talked about how certain participants in the gym will just come up to strangers and talk about how they just benched, pressed, or deadlifted X amount for no apparent reason. Those participants need that external praise in order to proceed with their exercise. “Oh, do I look good? Yeah? Okay, I’ll train harder,” Omar imitates such people, saying that “flame will die. It’s only temporary.” He says it’s the eternal flame of wanting to achieve goals for yourself that will truly keep you going that will give you a lasting satisfaction. He says don’t worry about the appraisal of others but the thirst of your own ambition.

Now lifting, and writing, are very internal, private processes. That is to say, rarely do we intentionally do them with other people. (I can’t help how busy a gym or area I’ve decided to write at will be.) It’s certainly why they are my refuge when I need to recharge my social-batteries. But after countless edits of a project, such as Project Stripes, I find my continued reading of it alone to be fruitless; I need another set of eyes. Other people see things about ourselves that we always can’t through our point of view. Does this apply to wanting external praise? How can I trust myself if I don’t seek the council of others? What if I’m doing something wrong; how would I know?

After all, don’t lifters need trainers and writers need teachers to know the ways of their pursuits? How am I to know if I’m curling correctly or writing relatable characters if not from the wisdom of veterans? But is that the same as seeking the approval of others or merely objective instruction for me to interpret the way I will? What’s wrong with checking with others every so often, not in desperation of approval, and asking if I’m going in the right direction to what I want?

I think that is the key to the paradox of trusting oneself without additional verification. It all comes back to how the intention is channeled. And, certainly, don’t go up to random strangers and ask how your lifting looks. There are mirrors for a reason.

If, like in the video, the “YOLO bro” (as Omar puts it) boasts about their leg press just because they want to get a reaction, that might not be the best direction to channel your intention’s flow. Now, however, if one asks to check their form because their back starts to hurt or they feel it more in their knees than their butt and thighs, yeah, I think you’re channeling that intention to the right spring, and if they happen to compliment on the amount being lifted, all the better.

I have to think about what I want out of my two pursuits. Where I want to improve and where I want to sustain. If I have the intention of personal glory when asking for other’s opinions, then my attempts will be poisoned. Only when my purpose is to further the education and improvement of my pursuits will I get the most out of my council with others. It becomes less of a paradox this way. By removing the need to baby my insecurity, and believe me I still struggle with this, I can ensure proper construction of confidence in myself: the cradle of intrinsic motivation.

It’s up to us to dig into our core and find stability and trust that we know what we’re doing. How much should we care about what other’s think? What if no one else likes the way I write, my story? What if I’m the only one? Impossible, at least I’ve been told. Out of 7 billion people, there’s going to be those who will read, just like out of the billions of star systems in the Universe there is other life. I need to embrace not caring about the outside. Creation is just for me. If I keep a level head, never let the weights win, and hold myself accountable for initiated commitments, I can find the succulence of intrinsic motivation, the eternal flame.


One Comment Add yours

  1. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!


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