Clarifying Motivations & Losing Expectations


Clarifying Motivations & Losing Expectations

Craig Mallett


Our imagination and dreams, linked to the hun and the wood energy, are an important tool for driving us to accomplish things in our lives. Without dreams for a better world we would hardly be motivated to get up and do stuff, and would become stuck in a big stagnation. The modern world unfortunately does not have a good relationship with dreams or fantasy, making out out to be childish and unimportant. This has lead to lots of people “working jobs they hate to buy stuff they don’t need to impress people they don’t like”.

We need our dreams and imaginations, even though they are not “real”. We only have to be careful to understand the difference between the fantasy that drives us into action, and the results of that action which are often vastly different than we fantasized about.

We can break this up into two basic aspects. The first, is the motivation. This is our desire to be better, healthier, enlightened, a great master, martial arts expert or whatever. This fantasy brings us into action; I go to class and I keep training diligently because of this motivation. When we forget this dream that started everything, we can easily drop into training slumps, going through the motions instead of engaging with the practices with dynamism and enthusiasm (we can also see this playing out in our work lives, where we started something with a dream in mind but fell into a drudgery after a while and forgot our dreams). This is a mental construct that despite its lack of tangible reality has an incredible utility and function in our lives. We can remember that it isn’t real, which can help with the next point, but we can nevertheless still ride the wave of enthusiasm that is generated by the dream. It can also be very useful to regularly review and clarify this motivation, as often we did not really think too deeply about it before we started something.

The next aspect is the expectation. This is the part that says “if I do the training, then x/y/z should happen in this timeframe”. This is the kind of mental projection we want to free ourselves from. When we have an expectation that it will go a particular way, we can often close off other avenues of unexpected possibilities from occurring. Trying to force the results can often get in the way of the results appearing. We have to learn to identify these particular imaginings and remember that they too are completely without reality, and not take them seriously at all. If taken seriously, these fantasies cause a real energetic blockage to our evolution – even if you have a very complete practice, they can be an invisible handbrake and the cause of great frustrations.

So we have 2 fantasies:

  • The motivation, which comes before and helps us go into enthusiastic action. It’s the cause (yang aspect)
  • The expectations, which are what we imagine will come after the training. It’s the result (yin aspect)

With a little knowledge of yin yang theory we can see a logic behind this approach. The yang is the actively created cause of the equation and the yin is the passively received results. If we start getting actively involved with the cause AND the results, we end up with a yang imbalance that leaves no room for the receptivity of the yin to express.

On the other hand, if we ride the enthusiasm of our dreams into action of practice, and leave the results to be mysterious and unknown, then we can make great leaps in personal evolution.


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