Redefining Healthy Motivators
It has been a long, hard winter, y'all. I fell out of a lot of my healthy routines and into the negative cycles of anxiety and depression that I am prone to. I have spent many hours hibernating under blankets, feeling very far away from any sense of purpose, and not even remembering how I used to be able to get motivated to do things I know I enjoy. The topic of motivators is one I have spent a lot of time contemplating. Whether it's to motivate myself to write a blog post, do a work out, or even just get up off the couch, I have been determined lately to rewrite motivators that simply are not working for me anymore.
Depression can paralyze me. In my lowest moments, I've realized that certain motivators I've used in the past can hit me in a negative, shaming sort of way when I'm in that "stuckness" of my depression. I need motivators that lift me up when I'm low, not make me feel worse for struggling so much to accomplish simple tasks. I'm still in the process of working through some of these things mentally, but as a way of welcoming myself back to writing and putting some of these motivators into action, here's a list of past motivators I've used, and how I'm rewriting them through a lens of self love.
Don't be a quitter, or the famous: "No excuses."
Healthy reframe: Listen to your body. Take one loving step toward caring for it today.
This is a really popular one in the fitness community, and I know it does motivate a lot of people. It helped me for a long time as well. But now, I honestly don't believe it's a sustainable mentality. For people that are suffering from mental illness, physical illness, etc., this motivator can be alienating. When I am in the darkest places, if the thought "No excuses!" pops into my head, I feel horrible. I tell myself that my mental illness is an excuse I'm making because I am weak and lazy. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons we cannot get a work out in, or complete any goal for the day. If we are hard on ourselves about it we are taking a step away from self love and toward self punishment. Not to mention, we can get hurt if we push ourselves when we are sick. We can risk our health.
So if I decide instead to just listen to my own body, I'm much more likely to make a choice that is appropriate for my own personal journey. If today all I can do is take one mindful breath, then at least I can make that step, instead of shaming myself away from any self loving practice, and feeding into the negative mental cycles. If I do get a work out in, that's great! It definitely helps curb symptoms of depression and anxiety for me. The key it so be sure the motivation behind the action is loving and not based on fear or punishment.
"I'll be happy/ worthy when ___."
Healthy reframe: "My worthiness is non-negotiable." I love myself as I am now, and any adjustments I want to make are simply acts of deepening that love and continuing to celebrate my mind and body in the present moment.
Thank you, Brené Brown. Reading her books (most recently, Braving the Wilderness), the theme emerges that we cannot place our worthiness in the eyes of others. We can't mold ourselves to fit those expectations. When we do that, "we no longer belong to ourselves." If I decide I will be happy when I look like a certain fitness model, or when I have a routine of writing a blog post every week, or when I am doing yoga every morning, any slip up will tell me I'm still not worthy yet. I am falling short and therefore undeserving of happiness. It's absolutely ridiculous to talk to myself that way. I am always deserving of happiness. I am always worthy of taking up space, and feeling good about myself no matter what. Even if I ate ice cream for dinner, or was too sick to go to work, or went months without making the progress I'd hoped for. I am STILL worthy of finding joy and celebrating my own survival in this life.
Readjusting those goals and expectations to reflect self love will help me learn that happiness and worthiness should never be set aside for the future. Learning to accept myself as I am RIGHT now will curb the self punishing behaviors. This is an extremely difficult, extremely long process for someone like me, but I truly believe that this act of reframing and gaining a sense of happiness in the present will lend itself toward me moving out of my own way, growing, progressing, and gaining more joy anyway!
These adjustments helped me write my first blog post in months, in a way that felt natural and not forced, so I'm thinking I'm on to something! What healthy motivators do you use to get yourself going? I would love to hear your ideas as I continue delving into this topic myself!