Motives - The "Why" for What We Do

The last few days I've thought a lot about what motivates us to do what we do. There are the easy ones: I work to support my family. I exercise to be healthy. I clean so I don't live in a pigpen.

But what motivates us to be who we are and do what we do? This is something writers have to think about. Right now I'm writing a character who does some things that make me shake my head or roll my eyes. But her actions--crazy as they may seem--are completely understandable when you look at her past and what motivates her.

Each of us, even our fictional characters, have a history. Sure, the writer creates that history for the fictional character, but without that history, the character floats in a land of unbelievability. She doesn't ring true. What she does doesn't make sense without that anchor of back story.

Our back story is just as important. When we understand someone's back story we have a better understanding of what motivates them and why they do what they do. Understanding those motives makes things that might seem incomprehensible make more sense.

When we see someone doing something that makes us shudder, we need to remember that if we knew their back story, we might understand their actions. We might still need to take a stand against those actions or speak out in an effort to spare the damage their actions are causing, but it might help us do it in a more effective way.


Red Pill Report said...

This is so true. We've all heard the phrase "never judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes." Well, that his history, his back story, and the path he took to get where he is.

We all need to me a little less judgemental, and a little more forgiving as we interact with people who may be in a different place in life.

Thanks for the great thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts and words for all of us to try to live by. I can only imagine how much an understanding of my back story would clear up a lot of questions in a lot of peoples minds in regards to who and what I am.

Leslie said...

great recent posts.

missy said...

One of my favorite quotes (and I've probably shared it with you before) is: We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are. -Anais Nin

We all see things through the lens of our past experiences.

I love this post and it's something I've talked to my kids about. When kids are mean at school, you never know what they went to bed to the night before. Wouldn't it be nice if we all walked around with signs around our necks letting people know what burdens we bear so they might be a little more gentle with us?

Tawnie said...
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Tawnie said...

I think about this more and more and am training myself to not be so judgemental. (although I don't think I am too judgemental to begin with). I know there are things about me that people don't understand and I know that if they saw those things from my past that make me who I am, I would make so much more sense to others. I feel like I have lived two different lives. Before marriage and after marriage. In my beliefs, the things I do, etc. etc. etc. Sometimes I have to remind myself of my past to recognize why some people do the things they do. Not that my past was ever bad. Just different.
"Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Karey said...

Thanks for the great comments. I love the quotes a couple of you have included. We're complicated people and there are as many ways to look at things as their are people.

Anonymous said...

Remember the talk from General Conference where President Ucthdorf
told the story about seeing the bumper sticker that said, "don't judge me because my sins are different than yours." Good post! Good reminder. We all have sins and we need to more gentle and kind with each other. I had an experience today and this post helped me put things in a better perspective. LMH