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Motivation to change

I am in the midst of a crisis and it is (per usual) torturous. This is a very old pattern of mine that I can genuinely see having recurred for most of my life and is both physically and mentally crippling. as well as the physical symptoms, I go into my head and its spins at 100 mph and I can’t seem to get it to stop (until I take a sleeping pill). But the crisis, which is triggered by an event that pushes my fear of abandonment / rejection / acceptance (by a third party) in more recent years have gotten increasingly debilitating and I fear, potentially dangerous. I have really gone to the honest authentic truths surrounding these issues and accept that even though I have done many courses and had decades of therapy, I have never come to truth I identify now in that: I haven’t ever done any work on myself to make me ‘better for me’, my deeper authentic motivation has always been to ‘make me better so that I can be attractive and accepted by a man’.

that’s the truth, but equally, even as I write and acknowledge this now, I cant seem to find any motivation to do it for me anyway or even if I can be true to that belief. I just don’t see why?! clearly self esteem and self respect is non-existent. I cannot see, now that I have been truthful about all this, any way that I can ‘find’ / ‘manufacture’ a desire to do this for the ‘right’ reasons – ie. for me and therefore, how does this ever change?

I know this is not the first time I have said, but I am at my wits end and DO NOT want to go through this every few years or months anymore. I know doing something different is my only way forward – but if the motivation cannot change – then how is this possible?

thank you

I am in the midst of a crisis and it is (per usual) torturous. This is a very old pattern of mine that I can genuinely see having recurred for most of my life and is both physically and mentally crippling. as well as the physical symptoms, I go into my head and its spins at 100 mph and I can’t seem to get it to stop (until I take a sleeping pill). But the crisis, which is triggered by an event that pushes my fear of abandonment / rejection / acceptance (by a third party) in more recent years have gotten increasingly debilitating and I fear, potentially dangerous. I have really gone to the honest authentic truths surrounding these issues and accept that even though I have done many courses and had decades of therapy, I have never come to truth I identify now in that: I haven’t ever done any work on myself to make me ‘better for me’, my deeper authentic motivation has always been to ‘make me better so that I can be attractive and accepted by a man’.

that’s the truth, but equally, even as I write and acknowledge this now, I cant seem to find any motivation to do it for me anyway or even if I can be true to that belief. I just don’t see why?! clearly self esteem and self respect is non-existent. I cannot see, now that I have been truthful about all this, any way that I can ‘find’ / ‘manufacture’ a desire to do this for the ‘right’ reasons – ie. for me and therefore, how does this ever change?

I know this is not the first time I have said, but I am at my wits end and DO NOT want to go through this every few years or months anymore. I know doing something different is my only way forward – but if the motivation cannot change – then how is this possible?

thank you

Asked by L. B.

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Answers (5)

Helena Clayton

Coach and Facilitator

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Hi L.B.

I’m sorry to hear that things feel so difficult and so very painful at the moment.  It certainly sounds as if you know this pattern well in yourself and I can really hear your heartfelt frustration that you’re facing it again.

I would echo what my colleagues have written here … nothing is ever wasted and you have done amazing work already in getting yourself to where you are now.  And I can sympathise with the ‘oh no, not this pattern again, I thought I was done with that’ as, at 52, I so often find myself working on the same difficult core issues in my own personal growth.  But what I have come to learn is that every time I revisit those same painful places, something is slightly different, it’s never exactly the same place.  My progress is glacial, but there is always progress – even if it’s in a direction I wasn’t expecting – and I have come to trust that.

And in these responses, you have many wise, loving and practical suggestions.  I’m curious … what have you read here that you feel might help?

And my own contribution might feel very counter-intuitive, but it’s the suggestion to focus on action and not on motivation.  There is a school of thought that says that if we wait for motivation we might just be waiting for ever, it might never come. Rather, if  we can start by doing something, start by taking action, then we find that motivation often follows. We start by doing something (sometimes doing anything!) and we find that something shifts, our perspective alters, our emotions change, the world looks and feels subtly different.  And inspiration and motivation can develop from there.

There was a nice column in Saturday’s Guardian by Oliver Burkeman that said (hugely paraphrased, sorry Oliver) that when people were faced with taking a big decision to change something radically or to maintain the status quo, the people who were happier in the longer term were those who had made the change.  So there is plenty of evidence out there to suggest that action is a powerful force that can change our inner state.

So what might this mean for you?  It means acting ‘as if’. Can you identify a few things that, if your feelings of self respect and self esteem were stronger, you might be doing for yourself.  And then, even if it feels odd to be doing it because you feel you lack the motivation, do those things anyway over a period of time – and watch to see whether anything changes.

I really wish you well with all your endeavours … and please do keep in touch, L.B, and let us know how you’re getting on.  We would love to hear from you.

With warm regards

Helena

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Sacha Stewart

Wellness and Personal Development Coach

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Firstly thank you for reaching out to us at Guru Circus.  It’s a really brave step and one that shows me that you are motivated, even though right now it may not feel like it.  You have already done so much work on uncovering the underlying issues and none of this work is wasted, it’s all leading you to now, where you are recognising a deeper layer, that of needing to have self love and care for yourself.  An understanding that you need to do this for you, not for someone else, another huge insight and it’s so encouraging that you have come to this point, because that is from where you can move forward.

I encourage you to start with baby steps.  Ask yourself, what makes you happy?  What lights you up inside?  Write down a list of 10 things, and even if it is just something small, endeavour to integrate this into your day.  Maybe it’s going for a long walk in nature, or taking a bath, a favourite hobby, anything that will make you feel positive and like you are doing something good for “you”.

The work of Louise Hay is wonderful, especially her mirror work.  It’s challenging at first but an excellent tool to help you develop a loving relationship with yourself.  Having experienced similar feelings in the past, I highly recommend this to grow the love, kindness and compassion for ourselves that is key in developing self love.

I would also encourage you to seek out some mindfulness and mediation practices to help with the spinning mind, and could give you tools for sleep when you are feeling the physical symptoms.  It could be as simple as breath work.  1 minute of deep breathing into the belly / diaphragm turns off the fight of flight mode that we operate in when we are in times of stress.

Lastly I encourage you to reach out for help.  It could be a therapist, a coach or even a close friend, but someone that can help guide you through some of these techniques, support you on your journey, and help your motivation to keep moving forward.

When we build the love for ourselves, that is when we attract the kind of love that we seek from others.  Given that you have already done so much work, I can tell that you have what it takes to do take these next steps. I wish you luck on your journey.

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Alex Klokkaris

Life Coach and Workshop Facilitator

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Dear L.B.
Firstly thank you for your trust in reaching out to our panel at Guru Circus and for being so open and honest with your question.
You already have a good level of awareness about what is happening and what your patterns are. The work that you have done on yourself is not wasted, it is part of your process and forms your foundations for moving forward, even if it doesn’t feel like it now. Roots take time to grow deep into the earth and so often it feels like nothing much is happening on the surface, despite the work we do on ourselves and the experiences we may be having.
At this fragile stage it is especially important to get any support that you may need, perhaps you could ask yourself: ‘What kind of support do I need and where could I get it?’ Write down ideas and choose what feels best for you, whether it is trusted friends, family members, professional support, a therapy that feels right for you, or a combination, then take action, reach out.

Here are some questions to reflect on:

1. What if there was a part of you, a deeper, wiser, loving self that given a chance could gradually emerge and give you lifelong guidance and support? What would that deeper wiser self be saying to you now? (Could it be that this deeper wiser self is already in action, in that she has helped you write and post this question to our panel?)

2. What if this part of you that is suffering was a dear friend or someone you really cared for? What would you do? How would you treat them? Would you give them comfort, safety, reassurance, nurturing? What one thing could you do today to look after that part of you?

3. In what ways could you find safe and healthy ways of sharing or expressing some of your emotions and 100 mph thoughts? Could it be journal writing, talking to someone, what else helps you to express and connect to yourself?

4. What if this was an opportunity to begin to build a trusting and loving relationship with yourself? In what ways could you begin to do that?

5. What do you need most right now and how could you begin to meet those needs?

You can do it, there are always ways forward, and there is support out there, as well as great resources for support. Louise Hay comes to mind, do look her up on You Tube, especially her classic book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’.
You can do it, you will move on and do make sure you get some proper support as a gesture and statement to yourself that you matter enough to take care of yourself.

Sending you good wishes for your path ahead, tread gently, one day at a time.
Alex Klokkaris

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Rasheed Ogunlaru

Coach - Speaker - Author

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Thanks so much for getting in touch. It’s sounds as though you’ve been through tough times and difficult emotions. It also sounds as though you are wanting to be in a more content place in yourself, your mindset, in life and perhaps in relationships as well as within yourself overall.

First of all give yourself credit for all that you have done. The therapy, contemplation and perhaps soul-searching show that there is a motivation there and that you want to be in a more content space. We often overlook the effort we have put in.

My next step is appreciation – of yourself. This can be tough especially in times of crisis like this.  We tend to be conditioned to look at life through the lens of lack, how we should be and our perceived weaknesses. Almost everyone I’ve met is conditioned that way but it can be eased by ensuring that you spend at least as much time focusing on all you have in life and your qualities as you do on your perceived frailties. Some people find this a little tough at first and it can help to ask others. Write it all down. This is a muscle that will get stronger if – as a reflex – you turn your attention to your qualities, abilities and strengths no matter how subtle or minor you think that they are.

Next up thought itself: thought and going around in our minds about this and that, the past, regrets, life events and challenges can tax the mind and have a stressful impact on the body. I recommend taking your attention away from your mind: I have a saying “take a walk outside; it does far more good than pacing around in your mind”. A walk in the park, fresh air, time in nature. I recommend this regularly. If you are one for meditation then I recommend that too. Everyone is different for some drawing or painting calms the mind. For some it’s exercise. For some it’s cleaning and washing dishes. For others it’s just being still and silent. For some it is soothing talks. This silence or soothing words can help give the mind a chance to rest, relax and to help it gently reset. Above all be on your own side. Some days it will be easier than others. The emotions within the body are much like the weather outside. It’s best to acknowledge and appreciate them and prepare as best we can rather than fight them.

Support is also important. You mention that you’re in the midst of a crisis so now may  be a time where you feel you can do with some help. Just as you have done so here by reaching out to us it may be a time for support. Gently consider if you feel as though you’d value some support. If you have friends, family or more formal support that you trust and that are able to help then consider if it’s time to reach out. If there isn’t anyone who fits the bill or is right for now – and even if there is – there are a range of types of help out there depending what you feel you need. There are therapists and coaches of all types. But equally there are support groups and wonderful organisations such as Samaritains who support those in difficult times and that listen and allow a space for you to talk without giving advice or judgement. They are there for those who are going through a crisis or who feel low or isolated – including those who feel in a dangerous space emotionally and who feel little in life worth living for. Having been a volunteer in the past I know how invaluable this type of support by phone, email or in person can be. If so simply search online or in the via the phone book.

It may be a blend of these things might really help you get through this crisis, into a better emotional space and back on your feet.

I wish you all the best and thank you again.

Rasheed

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Simon Matthews

Psychotherapist

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Dear L.B.

First I want to say how much I admire your bravery and persistence in refusing to give up. You may be in a crisis, but the very fact that you are here seeking help here is an indicator that some part of you refuses to “lie down”.

One of the valid criticisms of conventional therapy (and I see that you have received decades of this) is that the client can arrive at a point where she has a very good understanding about what “the problem” is, but feels powerless to change it. Insight is a powerful part of the healing process, as is therapeutic processing of the emotions that often accompany such insight, but it is only half the story.

In my work with people who have received a lot of therapy and who are still feeling stuck I find that there is often some underlying trauma that has not been healed. You give some indication of this when you describe your old pattern of going into your head and spinning – which is a common response for people who suffered trauma, but which unfortunately “locks” the trauma in place and prevents the body from doing what it wants to do…which is discharge it. Animals know how to do this…but we humans appear to hijack ourselves with our minds and then get stuck there.

The response to trauma produces extreme physiological responses in the body . Fears of abandonment and rejection (depending on the age at which you first experienced them) can be perceived as life-threatening. The younger you were when exposed to the original trauma the more pervasive and subversive it will be. By “subversive” I mean the more power the traumatic responses will have to subvert the workings of the mind.

Ultimately the path to healing has to involve the body – and this is why many therapeutic approaches appear to fail. If the body trauma is not addressed, the physiological responses of your body to perceived trauma will always undercut the emotions of the heart and the thoughts of the mind – which is precisely what is designed to do.

A long-winded response to your question. I guess my message to you and to your apparent lack of motivation is this: don’t give up. Seek out therapeutic approaches and courses that understand trauma and therapists who know how to work with it. I can recommend the Somatic Experiencing approach to trauma, as a non “head-based” therapy that is powerful and effective. I can also recommend a course that I facilitate called “The Path of Love” as another powerful route back to yourself using the body as your guide, rather than the mind.

My love and best wishes to you on your future path,

Simon

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