Meta programs

The motivation reason Meta Program or Modal Operator Filter

The motivation reason filter can show whether someone chooses from necessity or possibility. Why do you make the choices in your life? Do possibilities or obligations motivate you more? If you are choosing based on necessity, it can seem as though you do not have a choice. It is part of how we motivate ourselves.

The motivation reason filter overlaps the options procedures Meta program with respect to how they see the world. Someone who looks for options and possibilities lives in a different world than someone who only has only one choice (the right one is the only one)

You might have heard the term “Modal Operator” used in NLP elsewhere – in the Meta Model. Many of the Meta Model distinctions become habits of mind, (the basis of a Meta program).

It also overlaps the Motivation Direction Meta program, although obligations are not necessarily things we don’t want, and possibilities things you do. You could move towards obligations or find avoiding possibilities motivating. I have a friend who frames all the things she wants to do as obligations.

reason filter diagram

The Possibility end of Motivation Reason

Someone motivated by the possibilities is interested in potential. Their reasons will involve opportunity and expanding choices, options or capability. They see themselves as having choices and control over their life direction.

They are usually optimistic, action oriented and enthusiastic. They use words like “can, could, want to, will, would, may, might, possibility, love to”

When asked why they are working, they might tell you about the learning and social opportunities.


The number of possibilities they creatively generate can sometimes overwhelm them and create paralysis. They often have problems with motivation, because of their lack of focus – they can have 20 exciting alternatives and dabble in all of them.

They may also have unrealistic goals. Noticing many possibilities, doesn’t necessarily mean you have the resources (skills, time, and money) to realize them, at least in the short term. This can be disappointing and frustrating.

The Necessity end of the Motivation Reason

This can be very motivating. Think about it, what is the difference between “I want to finish my assignment today and I have to finish my assignment today? Many people can only get things done when a deadline approaches.

Something you have to do has different submodalities to something you merely want to do. A “have to” narrows your focus. It presupposes an emergency.

Someone motivated by necessity will only do what she needs to do. Because obligations and duties drive them, they can feel as though there is no choice. They live in a world of rules and constraints.

They interpret communication from others as commands. If the dog is looking in his bowl – that is a demand for food.

They use words like “Must, mustn’t, should, shouldn’t, have to, need to, impossible, can’t, couldn’t won’t,

When asked for reasons why they are working, they will tell you it’s because they have to, they have kids to feed or it’s irresponsible not to.


Guilt drives this pattern, which is not a pleasant way to live. They can feel pressured, stressed and burdened. A constant state of emergency floods your body with cortisol -this can take a health toll in the form of burnout. They are so busy doing what they have to do they fail to take care of their wants and desires, including recreation and breaks. Life can become a treadmill.

They can see others as demanding. I have listened to people say “Everyone wants a piece of me”. This can affect the quality of their communication and relationships. How would you respond if someone translated every suggestion or request into a demand? Who felt pressured or nagged by your ideas and comments?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Related Posts