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.

J

2 thoughts on “Being Mildly Motivated: An Abusive Relationship with Yourself

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