Being Mildly Motivated: An Abusive Relationship with Yourself

One thing that I have learnt never to underestimate is my ability to avoid doing stuff.

These tasks are unlimited in their variety; all that is certain is that if I feel as though I ‘should’ be doing it, a lot of the time I won’t be. Not doing/starting/completing things is not especially out of the ordinary; many people don’t do stuff they know they ought to. However, what I find especially strange about my personal avoidances is that, at some point, they were all things I really wanted to do.

The feeling of motivation is an odd phenomenon I think. We often underestimate how fleeting it can be and how it’s potency in driving you to do something can evaporate the longer it is left unattended. I was inspired by this subject whilst working on the beginning of a different blog post. There I was tapping away, ruminating over all the subjects I wanted to tackle, when something caught my eye. “God, your hands look awful.”

And that was literally all she wrote.

An hour later I had little recollection of some of the ideas I had been so excited to write about and even less of the excitement itself. But at least I had a full manicure, better do my toes to match…I’ve found that there are endless distractions that we can busy ourselves with providing we want to be distracted.

But, inevitably, guilt rears its ugly, self-righteous head (usually when you lay yours down) and relentlessly reminds you that you should have been finishing what you gave yourself till today to do, rather than wallowing in the depths of your own laziness. However, the self-destructive behaviour does not end here. Often this situation will repeat itself for a few more cycles until finally, you do whatever it is you were supposed to do. And suddenly it’s as though the clouds part. You are hit with the intoxicating realisation that the thing you had been avoiding doing this whole time was actually really easy to complete. Not only was the experience totally painless, but you are once again filled with an enthusiasm and the promise to become more dedicated. From tomorrow you will begin working on your next task and will definitely not get complacent again.

But predictably, you do.

The mystery of this plot thickens further when we think about how humans, rightly or wrongly, often measure their sense of worth against their success. But how are we supposed to be successful when we avoid the necessary steps to become so? Our perception of how valuable a person we are/will be is entirely dependent on us. Which is great, right?

No, it’s terrifying.

This mind set is admittedly really hard to break but, in order to achieve what we are capable of, break it we must. The desire to become accomplished isn’t going to fade, so unless we take action, we are resigning ourselves to a lifetime of always knowing that we could have done better, had we just put the effort in.

That’s the thing however, which I think is a comfort to some of us and may on some level contribute to this behaviour. We have the potential to accomplish almost anything, if we try hard enough, care enough or put enough hours in. That’s why you hear so many people saying ‘I could’; in theory most people can. But it’s weirdly preferable to fail because of our own laziness than to have really tried and fallen short. It’s scary to try.

Some people are genuinely okay with putting some effort in and getting what that gives them. If that is you then fair enough, do your thing. But before you count yourself in this group, really have a think about it. Most of us fall prey to the three R’s; Reminiscing, Romanticising and Regretting, I know I do. Even if you look back to something as small as a subject in high school that you could have gotten better results for, this applies to you.

The behaviour of being motivated, but only mildly, is not easy to combat. But I genuinely believe that people like us will not be content with our lot in life unless we do. There is no magic way to shake yourself out of it however. Which is unfortunate. It seems fitting though that the only solution for your tendency to avoid things is to tackle it head on. Obvious as it sounds, everything would have been so much easier if we just did stuff. (Eat your heart out Nike)

One thing that has started to help me has been to focus on the fact that the only person who is being cheated in this equation is me. I will be the one to miss out, I will be the one left wishing it had been different and I will be the annoying person doing the Marlon Brando “I could have been somebody” speech at any and every opportunity.

I have realised that I cannot rely on something or someone else motivating me. It has to be me. Getting things in life easily is great, but nothing feels as good as reaping the rewards of hard work. Focus on the feeling of validation you get from that, and let it imbue you with self-worth and determination. And most importantly, hold onto it; don’t let it evaporate before you can act on it.

The only person who will lose out, is you.

Let me know if you guys struggle with motivation and how you combat it.

I am always taking tips.


The Problem With Thinking ‘Beauty is Only Skin Deep’

Okay, so I didn’t really know what I wanted to start writing about so I looked in the mirror to do some soul searching and got distracted, as always, by my skin.
I have acne. I’ve had acne for ages. It’s not nutrition based, not a symptom of needing to drink more water or because I wear cheap makeup; it’s cystic, hormonal and it’s here to stay. (I’m being dramatic, it’s starting to go)

I don’t want to ramble on about it too much as the purpose of this piece isn’t to whine about my skin, but I want to create some context for you.

Okay, so, I started getting spots when I was in year 7/8. Nothing major, just teenage skin, although it always seemed a bit worse than my friends’. It stayed like that until I was 16 and then kicked up a notch, at which point I began to go to the doctors for some advice. Advice turned into going on 5 or 6 different acne medications, none of which worked. Topical treatments also really aggravated my sensitive skin so they were out too. Eventually when I was 18 they put me on the contraceptive pill. I tried a couple before they decided on Dianette. This did more for my skin then all the other efforts combined, I had clear skin within two months, minus some scarring, and off I went to Uni feeling fab.

Fast forward 5 years to this January and I’ve just gone through a break up. In classic female fashion I want a whole new start for 2018. So I stop using the pill. I would say it took 3 months until my skin erupted, by the end of March I could definitely see a noticeable difference, long story short by July I was looking a hot 16 year old mess.

The point of writing this, I hear you all wonder, is not to wallow in my own grease, but instead to raise a question; why does acne have such a strong effect on people? I believed myself to be past caring about such trivialities, having been through it before and coming out the other-side with only a few visible scars to show for it. However, I was shocked at how much it affected not only my opinion of myself but how I thought I would appear to other people. It is all well and good thinking that beauty is only skin deep and not important in the grand scheme of things, but when we operate in a world where appearance counts for a lot, what are you to do when you don’t like the skin itself?

Predictably, I scurried off and got myself back on the pill, started taking probiotics and zinc to improve my gut health and switched to all organic face washes and my skin has vastly improved. (I will include pictures) But what I should have done is leave my skin and go and get to the bottom of the issue and heal it naturally. Alas, my vanity prevented this; so I know that one day, when I stop the pill, the problem will quite literally re-surface.

So why does the outside take centre stage where the inside is left to its own devices? Well, first and foremost, because we can see it. The old adage ‘out of sight out of mind’ is extremely pertinent in this case. Looking in the mirror every day and not liking what you see is a draining existence.

I have also noticed that the products we buy for skin are also part of the issue. Not just because many things will actually make your skin worse, but because of how they are named. ‘Skin Perfecter’, ‘Complexion Corrector’, ‘Concealer’, all of these products are marketed to us with the intention to fix a problem. The problem being our face. Buying and using concealer will eventually convince you that certain parts of your face which occur naturally are unsightly and need to be covered up, hidden, concealed. The same goes for correctors and perfecters, smoothers and toners. All descriptions that ingrain the idea that you are not ‘perfect’ or ‘correct’ without them. This leads to a really unhealthy relationship with makeup in a lot of cases. Many brands will prey on people with insecurities for this reason, which is why they are branded towards people who want to cover up their acne. The hard work is already done for them, they just need to capitalise on our belief that, in order to look ‘good’ we can’t have visibly ‘bad’ skin.

In addition to this, generally speaking, we are creatures that are hyper critical of ourselves and, sub-consciously or otherwise, of others too. I think that is part of our problem re being image conscious. I would argue that the route to true self contentment is through not looking at other people and picking up on their flaws. Thus you would have no reason to believe that anyone would be worried about your own. It’s cyclical. The solution as to how we view ourselves is rooted in how critically we see other people.
These are just a few thought I have on the subject and felt like sharing. If you agree/disagree with something that I have said let me know. Let’s talk about it!

As promised here are pictures of my acne from August to November sans makeup (I’m so brave.) I started to keep track of how my skin was improving in attempts to negate the self-loathing thing that acne sufferers have. These are my evidence, to combat my own toxic thoughts, and sharing them is an attempt to purge myself of the thoughts all together.

J x

August – November 2018