Purpose-Driven versus Emotional-Driven Cycles - CarlBarringer.com
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Purpose-Driven versus Emotional-Driven Cycles

Purpose-Driven versus Emotional-Driven Cycles

We all create (i.e. do things) as we move through our day and life. Some things are done quickly and easily – almost without thought. Some things take longer than others – needing many cycles – possibly years to complete.

In a healthy system, we create from our desires. In an unhealthy system, we create from habit, shoulds and have-tos. Today, we’ll distinguish healthy and empowering creating (purpose-driven) from unhealthy creating (emotional-driven) and discuss how you can move towards making your desires come to fruition.

Change (or transformation) seems difficult while you are doing it – but incredibly powerful and pleasurable when it’s complete. So changing works better – is made possible even – by being for a result rather than trying to get away from or eradicating an old habit. It’s more powerful to be for peace rather than against war. Everything that is and has been great in your life is a result of change.

It’s helpful to consider what your belief of change is. If you believe that change is hard – it will be. If you believe that change is life itself and that, regardless of what it feels like to change, it is inevitable and can lead to amazing things.

  • Since beliefs shape and create our thoughts
  • And thoughts lead to our emotions (though sometimes think the opposite)
  • And emotions lead to behavior or actions
  • And actions lead to our results
  • And results generally reinforce our beliefs
  • Then it’s a good idea to adopt powerful beliefs

I often say that if you are going to believe in one thing – it’s that you get to choose what you believe.

What is a Cycle?

For our purposes, we will define a cycle by:

  1. Having a beginning that we can identify that we want or are going to do something
  2. Having and end when we are complete with that which we identified that we are going to do – even if we didn’t do it

Today, we’ll dissect two types of cycles. Hopefully, you will desire and be able to move toward the purpose-driven cycle – or at a minimum strengthen it if you already create that way.

We’ll refer to the diagram below as we move through each step of our creating. The green arrows lead us through the purpose-driven cycle and the red arrows lead us through the emotional-driven cycle.

The solid lines represent things that will most likely be more solid in your mind and they might take more effort or involve struggle. The dashed lines are things we can do with fewer struggles, efforts or even thoughts.

As we step through the cycles, take an example from your own experience – past or present – and observe and be curious what’s going on inside as you slow down and dissect how you create in your life.

Step A – I Know What I Want

Each cycle start with desire. We want to do something, it occurs to us to do something or we make up that we have to do something (in reality, there’s nothing that we have to do – we don’t have to pay taxes and dying happens without any effort). Somehow it makes sense to us.

This idea could come from:

  • our bodies (a physical sensation)
  • another idea (thought)\
  • from one of many outside stimuli

Regardless, it is a thought at this point and it has been filtered through our belief system. It could either be:

  • fear-based to avoid something negative
  • flow-based to enjoy or enrich life

Both of these are ok – but it may be useful to see which category the thought falls into.

This step is the only step that is common to both cycles.

Step B – Planning (pre-action)

This is the step that frames the action. It takes place consciously or unconsciously. As you observe this place – it comes right after you decide to do something – notice what you think of what you decide.

We’re still in the mental realm here. Whether we are aware that we are thinking something – we are. These are either background or foreground thoughts that arise from our beliefs about creating or about what we decided to do.

B2 – Emotional-Driven

At this point, you might be aware of some hedge – like “I think I know what I am going to do” or “I hope I can do this right.” This is really a fear-based habit designed (subconsciously) to protect you against failure or having to do something that you may not want to do fully or completely.

You might even think that this is a reasonable thought – flexible and fluid. But – when creating, the decision has been made earlier. Hedging at this point is second-guessing what we chose to do. It’s sabotage in disguise.

B1 – Purpose-Driven

Here’s where the cycles start to diverge. We may not know exactly how everything is going to go or what the exact result will look and feel like – but that doesn’t keep us from firmly resting in the commitment to create or do what we’ve declared that we want.

In this cycle, all mental activity is aligned with what makes sense for this action. Is it planning? Is it taking the first step? Is it simply starting to move your body?
There may be curiosity and openness about what to do but there is no second-guessing what you are up to as stated in Step A.

Step C – Resolve or Resistance

Here’s where we deal with resistance. There is usually some. At this point, we are moving into an emotional area. I am not suggesting that we do not listen to our thoughts or feel our emotions – quite the opposite.

As we head into resistance, we begin to feel some stirrings of doubt, sloth or something that doesn’t feel great. What’s happened? Back in step A we sure felt great. The answer is that it’s part of being human.

At this point, the idea is to identify with the emotion but not identify with it. I like to hold my hand out flat and see and talk to the emotion – as if it’s something I have (in my hand) – not something I am.

C2 – Emotional-Driven

This is the where emotional-driven name comes from. It’s not that there is no emotion or that it is bad. In the emotional-driven cycle, the emotion becomes in charge.

The problem is that the emotion and the thoughts that they came from often come from habit, past experience or fear (things we learned or experienced in the past) rather than from possibility for the future.

When these emotions are put in charge or indulged rather than simply observed, the project starts to become derailed. This cloud (it usually feels vague and foggy) is part of being human. This is ok.

When we make up that how we feel is how we are, we are not able to create powerfully. We often wait to feel good as a sign to move ahead.

You can see how far the red line goes into and hangs around inside the cloud. This is struggle because it goes against your stated purpose for this cycle.

C1 – Purpose-Driven

Based on the C2 step above, I suspect that you can imagine the opposite. When we feel what we feel and stick with what we are up to (our purpose for this cycle), we are able to encounter a lot less struggle and resistance.

There is much less time spent in the cloud (see the dashed green line) as we rally behind our purpose. We know what we are up to, we are feeling what we feel and we (re-)declare what we are up to.

Step D – Action (or lack thereof)

At this point, you are doing something that is moving you towards what you want or you are moving away from it.

Remember, our actions come from our emotions that come from our thoughts. Were you aware of your emotions?

Are you aware of your emotions now? Ask yourself how you feel? My guess is that, if you are on track, you will feel good regardless of what has come up previously in this cycle. If you are not on track, I suspect you won’t feel great at all.

D2 – Emotional-Driven

“It makes total sense to not do what I said I would.” “I’ll re-evaluate later.” I’m tired.” “I’m in charge and I can decide not to do this.”

Any of these sound familiar? The last one is especially insidious. Under the guise of flowing freely, we enslave ourselves to the whim of our emotional state. I’m not saying that changing your mind is a bad thing. It usually is not empowering, however, when we habitually just don’t feel like we want to do what we said we were going to do.

D1 – Purpose-Driven

At this point, we are doing what we set out to do. It could take 10 minutes or three years but we are not fretting about what we are doing or if we should be doing it or how it might turn out. We are doing it.

Any doubts that crop up are held with the recognition that doubts do crop up. The doubts – the thoughts and resulting emotions – are held (in your outstretched palm) as just thoughts and emotions but they are not given significance once they are recognized as habitual. They will pass if identified and not identified with.

Incidentally, this method gives you the greatest possibility to sense danger or when to alter what you are doing based on real circumstances explicitly because we are not in our made-up habit world.

Completing the Cycle (back at the beginning)

Now we find ourselves back where we started – reflecting on the things we have done in our life which will soon turn into what we want to do next. It’s like the end of an exhale just before the inhale. It is full of possibility. What will I do next?

Remember that our results usually reinforce the beliefs we have about ourselves and about life. Check the entire circle on page 1 from belief through thought through emotion through action through result and back to belief.

2. Emotional-Driven (box)

In this cycle, we have not done what we set out to do or we’ve put it off indefinitely or we have done it poorly.

This is a weak cycle because we cannot reliably do what we state we are going to do.

This takes longer to complete (and start again) because we are afraid to or tell ourselves that we don’t want to create something new again. It wasn’t that much fun last time anyway.

It fills us with self-doubt. We may cover it up with rationalizations or some other way to numb the pain of what we did, but the self-doubt lingers or builds anyway.

Finally, we just don’t feel good in the end. By indulging out emotions as they come up in the middle of the cycle – we are left with less satisfaction – more yuck feelings. Ever felt this way when eating a bunch of sugar? It feels and tastes good in the mouth but not satisfying shortly thereafter.

1. Purpose-Driven (box)

So we’ve completed what we set out to do. It may not have been easy along the way and it may not look exactly the way we originally envisioned it but here we are.

This is empowering because we have learned (strengthened a new habit) that we can do what we set out to do. This is the definition of power – whether we commit to ourselves or commit to others. Other people know how powerful we are based on this.

These cycles take less time because we are eager for the next creation and experience.

We gain confidence because we can trust ourselves. We are reliable and we can spend less time looking for external safety and satisfaction.

And there is simply more pleasure. Think about what it must be like at the top of the mountain after a hard climb as opposed to turning around when the path started uphill.


This is just a small slice of experience. It is a model for looking at how our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, actions and results occur to us. With observation, new, more empowered beliefs and an understating of our propensities and habits, we can become more empowered in our lives.
This cycle builds on itself and there is no limit as to what you can accomplish, how you can feel about yourself and how pleasurable life can be.

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