Psych 101: Assigning unconscious motivation to others

I thought I would write a few posts on more practical daily-life psychology. In this case, about assigning unconscious motivations to others.

ASSIGNING UNCONSCIOUS MOTIVATIONS TO OTHERS

If we know a little about psychology, it may be tempting to sometimes assign unconscious motivations to others. You did Y, and it’s because you subconsciously want to X.

As usual, a little knowledge can be dangerous. And there are some inherent problems in this no matter how experienced we are with exploring the human psyche.

HOW IT MAY BE HELPFUL

In rare situations, guessing about unconscious motivations can be helpful.

Especially, if we ask for it, and it’s framed as a gently held question.

For instance, in a therapy session, there is a chance these guesses can read to useful explorations and insights. And sometimes, the insight may be that we cannot know, or that something else seems more plausible.

WHEN IT’S NOT HELPFUL

But if we don’t ask for it. If there are far more obvious and simple explanations. And if it’s framed as a statement and not a question. Then it’s not very helpful.

It’s typically not helpful any time we are outside of a therapy session, and sometimes it’s not even helpful within a therapy setting.

Why? Because we cannot know for certain. We are guessing and our guess is colored by our worldview, how we see humans, and whatever psychological tradition we are familiar with. It can often distract from a more simple, pragmatic, and effective approach. And it can bring people to doubt and second-guess themselves in a way that’s not so helpful.

HOW IT’S MORE LIKELY TO BE HELPFUL

There is one way these assumptions can be made helpful, and that is to see what’s going on and use it as a mirror for ourselves.

We can recognize it as a guess, a story, and something that happens in our mental field. It’s here to help us orient and explore something. It may have limited validity and reality is always more and different. What our story tells us is not inherent in reality or the other person.

We can use it as a mirror. If I turn this story to myself, what do I find? Can I find specific examples of when and how it was true?

We can notice how we are capacity for this story, as we are capacity for any experience. And how it happens within and as what we are, as every experience of anything does.

DRAFT

Some folks like to assume subconscious motivations in others: You did Y, and it’s because you subconsciously want to X.

If we ask for it, and it’s framed as a gently held question, then it can be helpful.

For instance, in a therapy session, it can lead to explorations that can give insights.

But if we don’t ask for it. If there are far more obvious and simple explanations. And if it’s framed as a statement and not a question. It’s not very helpful.

It’s typically not helpful any time we are outside of a therapy session.

…..

I typically don’t write much about mainstream psychology here.

It’s not because it’s not fascinating or important. Te me, it’s both.

It’s mainly because this type of information is relatively easily available these days. Although we do have to sift the wheat from the chaff to find clear, insightful, and succint presentations.

That said, I thought I would include a few occasional posts on mainstream psychology here.

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