“Mrs. Cooper”, he said, “this vacuum cleaner is world-class! The very best money can buy. It’s got attachments for carpets, drapes, stairs, heating vents, hardwood floors, you name it and it will clean it.
“Wow!” said my mom, clearly impressed. “Is there anything that it can’t do?”
“Well… yes”, the salesman said. There is one thing it can’t do. It can’t make you want to vacuum.”
This story reminds me of the many techniques that promise to help you improve your relationship, many more than any vacuum cleaner has attachments. But even the best of these methods won’t help you unless you have the motivation to use them. Desire alone isn’t ever enough to get the job done. The crucial element between desire and outcome is the motivation or “mojo,” the drive to do whatever is required to bring about the desired change.
Most of us begin a new project with a strong mojo and find that after a while it begins to diminish. We can get as infatuated with the excitement of a new desire as we can a new lover. In both cases, there’s a fading effect. At first, in a relationship, our desire so abundant that we can’t imagine we would ever feel any less enthusiastic about doing what it takes to keep things strong. But then the glow wears off and with it the intensity of desire.
Our initial excitement is gradually replaced by rationalizations about why we can’t get what we really want, and things begin to deteriorate. We hear ourselves saying things like, “There’s really no good available men out there.” Or “women are looking for the perfect guy and that ain’t me.” Or “this marriage just isn’t worth working that hard to save.” These comments are defenses against future losses, which come with prices, and the loss of mojo is one of them.
Rationalizations minimize the risk of disappointment and allow us to avoid the commitment to our original purpose. Underneath the complaint is a longing for something that we desire but fear we can’t have. The cost of avoiding disappointment is that we create self-fulfilling prophecies, increasing the likelihood that our goal will not be reached.
What taking responsibility looks like.
Taking responsibility is reaching out, risking rejection, and practicing greater vulnerability. The work becomes easier through practice and support from others who won’t give up on their dreams. Expressing the truth of our deepest longings makes us vulnerable to the experience of failure, loss, and disappointment When we deny the depth of our longing, we lose access to our desire, the very energies that have the potential to fulfill those longings. When there is no confidence in our motivation, it feels like there is no fuel in the tank. There is fuel, but the fuel line is blocked.
Here are some questions that can help us to unblock the fuel-lines.
Our fears diminish.
With self-reflection it’s not that the fear of failure disappears; rather it gets pushed into the background by our longing. Being in touch with our yearning, and anchoring our desire, is not an event, but an ongoing process. In taking it on we strengthen our motivation. And for whatever our heart desires, that’s always a good thing.