A perception I've had, since learning focusing and noticing and related introspective skills, is that my thought patterns sometimes have particular flavors that I associate with being motivated.
A couple such flavors are:
- a hint of righteousness – My thoughts are oriented in a stance similar to anger. I notice my intent to prove another person wrong and win. My muscles are tensed. I find it particularly hard to detach myself from this one, but relatively easy to say things like "hmm, so I notice I'm pretty motivated right now but I still think I'm right. So, um, epistemic status: here are some motivated arguments for X."
- a sinking feeling – A pit in my stomach. A part of me realizes this isn't a good idea but it would be super inconvenient if that were true. My internal monologue generates sentence fragments like "it's not that important." This for some reason is easier to detach from – as soon as I recognize what's going on I'm like 'ugh, fine. Okay. I will rewrite my solstice speech at the last minute because smallpox maybe isn't as old as I thought even though it's really annoying."
One interesting subskill is noticing that certain states of rationalization and motivation seem to come with certain physiological cues. (i.e. for me it's tensed forearm muscles for righteousness, slightly differently tensed forearm muscles for anxiety, pit in stomach for "oh man this isn't going to work is it?")
And once I've identified that, I also gain the ability to notice those physiological cues before I've figured out the exact nature of my motivation, and I can go "huh, tensed forearm muscles. Am I feeling righteously and overly excited about my frame? Hmm. Maybe" and then examine that (and sometimes it's "oh, no, this is anxious forearm tension not righteous forearm tension")
This is all to say that my personal experience has been "introspection being helpful for noticing motivation and rationalization". But, I can imagine an alternate me that learned the skills differently and ended up using them to generate stories that made myself stupider.