Conation and Unfulfilled Potential

I watched the move “The Circle” a couple of days ago. There is a line in the movie when the star character is interviewed about her biggest fear. She answers “unfulfilled potential”. It had an instant and gut-level effect on me because I too have a fear of unfulfilled potential. (this clip includes the line)

I know I have the capacity to do something significant with my life, but there have been some root level blocks to my motivation. Where does passion, purpose, intention and volition come from? Apparently they come from a function of the brain called “Conation”. The day after I watched this movie, I read about an interview with a Alison Adcock, M.D. a Professor at Duke University, who studies – conation. I felt like the law of attraction just hit me with a big wake-up stick.

“Most of us are familiar with cognition, or the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge and insight through our thoughts and experiences. Memory and attention are the best-known and perhaps the most studied cognitive processes. Conation is the mental faculty driven by purpose and volition. And, much like emotion, conation, it has the power to shape the way we perceive and interact with the world around us, as well as determine the things we learn and remember. Adcock studies how drives like desire and curiosity can facilitate so-called “motivated memory,” or the way the brain selectively encodes the experience that mean the most to us.”

We respond to rewards differently. Some people are motivated by money, some by fear or anxiety. We remember the exact same experience in completely different ways depending on our conation. Marketing people understand and apply techniques aimed at human conation, but psychotherapists don’t – yet. (CBT stands for cognitive behavioral therapy, not conative behavioural therapy)

In Yoga Classes, we are asked ‘to set an intention’. As if our intention is a goal that can be set and achieved. The concept of conation changes my thinking about intention. Intention is already set. The goal is to get in touch with the intention that lies deep within the subconscious mind firing curiosity and motivation – then to align with that intention and bring forth progress.

Two very exciting things came out of this discovery for me:

1) Adcock is looking at ways to enhance the progress of learning-based therapies (psychotherapy) so at some point conation training could replace pharmacological treatments for states like Attention Deficit Disorder and Addiction – which affect the lives of SO many people I know and love.

2) Understanding conation is inspiring and empowering. I’m driven to learn about how motivation and curiosity lead to evolution, change and progress. Because…

I have “the power to manipulate (my) environment to behave more productively”. – The Brain: Full Potential, Science Classics Magazine.

What is your intention? Do you ask yourself what you want cognitively or conatively? Does this concept make a difference to you? After googling ‘conation’, I could see it is commonly studied in Marketing, Human Resources and Psychology, but it is new to me. I’m looking forward to learning more. Do you have any suggestions?









Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s