It's like the story about the horse pulling a heavy cart with the proverbial carrot dangling in front and a whip at the ready behind. He turns to the driver and asks, “Tell me again. What's my motivation here?”

How motivation usually works is like when we were kids and mom would tell us to clean our rooms. We had two options, for the most part—compliance or defiance. Either way, who had the motivation about our rooms being cleaned? Us or our moms?

Fast forward to the present. How much has changed? Not much. We talk about our “inner child” wanting to defy cleanliness standards now that Mom isn't around to make us clean it up. But in reality, isn't that a bit backwards? Do we actually have an “inner child?” Not really. It's more true to say we are our inner child. What we have is the facade of a grown up person that we present to the outside world as us.

So the problem with motivating ourselves as adults is still much like it was when we were kids. We still need someone to play the mommy role of telling us what to do, when to do it, and give us rules and consequences so we won't do it wrong. Or even better, to make up games for tricking us into doing things we lack the internal motivation to do. Inherently, the fatal flaw remains in where our motivation comes from.

When the impetus to do something arises innately from within, it has potential to carry us along, becoming self-rewarding and continue into the future. Without outside help. The best most of us do is incorporate an “inner parent” to keep giving instructions, rules, and warnings to our “inner child.” And we continue to respond compliantly or defiantly—sometimes alternating from one to the other. So it makes sense to attempt to find more amenable alternatives, like hypnosis, motivational tapes, and other ways to stimulate excitement and make the drudgery more interesting (especially when it's not).

When we need constant or periodic motivation from external sources, that's an indication our “inner parent” isn't doing its job—or we've lost our taste for carrots on a string. And for most of us, that's a persistent problem. We need direction, counseling, expert advice, and encouragement because we never internalized one or more of the foundational developmental cornerstones of growing up. If we got them, then seeking out motivational help, whether it be in the form of subliminal tapes, coaching, counseling, or encouragement from family and friends is entirely unnecessary.

At worst we may find ourselves sinking into a bottomless pit of despair, flailing about without an inner sense of direction, in dire need of expert advice for how to run our lives, relate to family, friends, colleagues or loved ones. Just how widespread a problem it has become in our culture finds ample evidence in how many professions are designed to help us do the kinds of things we wouldn't need help with if we had completed the growing up process in its entirety.

In my practice, the aim is quite different from normal standards. We agree that clients will be thinking for themselves ASAP, rather than rely on my thinking, even in the short term. And it happens that way—NOT because we intend it, set our intentions on it, and rely on any kind of theoretical model. Rather it ties in with what every one of us already experienced—an organic model that drove us initially to become independent, self-motivating, powerful individuals with unique characteristics, goals and even missions around which our lives get organized. This universal model provides both the inner push as well as powerful pull to become entirely grownup so that we can do all the things we envisioned before we even went to kindergarten.

So the work clients and I do together doesn't involve advice, believing in anything, chanting, meditating or repetitions of any kind of advice. In fact advise isn't allowed. No shoulds. No prohibitions. What I have found that works extremely well is to return clients to the points at which they failed to incorporate the basic four cornerstones we all were challenged with early on. They began with achieving adequate connection, so that we experience unlimited supply. What flows naturally from connection is an inner sense of enough—having enough, being enough, without deprivation, insecurities, fears of abandonment, etc.

With enough we find the second challenge—to become autonomous—resolvable. The most important component concerns quality of thinking. Autonomous people think for themselves without needing expert opinion, advice, counseling or anyone outside telling them what to do and not do. That's not to say that resources are not valued. But the key difference shows up between those who rely on beliefs, thinking of sages, wise men/women, or peer pressure, and those with functional abilities to process beyond two options. Like good/bad, right/wrong, your way or the highway.

Most people in our culture failed the task of becoming functionally autonomous, hence we have so many resources to supplement what we could be doing for ourselves. Instead of being independent we manage our dependencies, addictions, attachments, fears, needs, and deficiencies.

How many of us even got beyond the thing about crossing the street? Remember mommy yelling at us not to cross the street without holding her hand? Look around at all the signs that substitute for learning something as fundamental as how to do that when she isn't around. Don't walk signs, crosswalk lines on the pavement and blinking signs tell us when and where to cross, providing we aren't ignoring them, risking a ticket for jaywalking.

Now we have computers to do our math, alarm clocks to tell us to get up, advisors to tell us how to dress, where to find that special loved one and form relationships, and even a couple of self-described chuckle-headed brothers having a great fun at the expense of anyone brave (or fool) enough to call in with questions about their automobiles. All we have to do is raise the hood on our car in a public place and everybody and their brother will stop to tell us what's wrong. If you want more proof, sit quietly in a mall and listen to how much conversation falls into the category of soliciting or delivering advice.

Think this doesn't include you? Take a test and find out. Go to and see if you can answer all 20 questions. You will find opportunity there to learn a whole lot more on the topic of being grownup from my new book on the subject, Do I Hafta Grow UP? The Adult Guide to Unfinished Business of Childhood. If you want to skip ahead and sample a few chapters go to

Author's Bio: 

Gary Robertson is author of a newly released book called Do I Hafta Grow UP? The Adult Guide to Unfinished Business of Childhood in which he reveals results from a program designed to resolve unfinished business from childhood. Robertson worked in mental health, including training in regression techniques. He is director of Springs Foundation, a non-profit organization that uses techniques of Energy Psychology and Energy Medicine for a wide range of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual problems. His expert page is at,