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Help! My Motivation is Missing and I Can't Find it!
Woman lying face down

This Pandemic and Shelter in Place has Been Going on…for so long…

As I mentioned in a previous video, it feels as the only thing that anyone talks about is the pandemic and the shelter in place orders. In some sense, it is the only thing to talk about, since being stuck in our home decreases our contact with other people and situations, but in a very real sense, it has been going on for so long that it feels as though it may never end, and so continuing to talk about it feels counterproductive.

As I contemplated what I wanted to write about, I realized that I wanted to write about…nothing. Which is not like me. I love writing, I love sharing information, I love communicating with others in a way that might help them. I also believe that I am one of the most motivated people that I know, and understanding fully that the reason I do not want to write is because I am not motivated did trigger in me the thought that I cannot possibly be the only person who feels no motivation.

Perhaps you, as well, are not feeling any motivation. There are so many different stories out there, most of them on the news (which means they “should” be reliable), and I have read everything from the shelter in place orders will be lifted May 6th, and in others, not until the fall or possibly the end of this calendar year. So exactly which is it? When will this all end? And that is where my motivation ends. When we have no idea when something will end, we tend to actually revert back to our animalistic instincts of fight, flight, or freeze. In this case, some people are “fighting back” by not following the shelter in place order, or posting things online about said orders. In the “flight” version of this, people are finding a way to not think about what they are dealing with, perhaps by drinking, using drugs, throwing themselves into work or a hobby, or possibly actually really leaving and going elsewhere. In the freeze response, people stop moving. They lack motivation and it feels as though we are unable to move forward any further.

I have always wanted to be a fight person. That seems like the “most brave” response to danger, it seems like the coolest response. However, as a therapist I know that that is not right, each response serves its own purpose. And my fear response is now, and has always been, to freeze. And this is where my lack of motivation comes from. My primitive brain is tired of being in my home for 7 weeks, and my primitive response is to freeze and choose not to move. No matter that I have a number of hobbies, I have friends and family I could be talking to, I have a home and a backyard to spend time in, and am blessed to have been able to continue working. What my primitive brain wants is just to sit.

So, as I tell people regularly in therapy, we have to do what we have to do, because we know we have to do it, even if we do not want to. So, what does that mean? I know that I need to exercise four times per week, so no matter what happens, I know that I will need to do that in order to get my motivation back. So, whether I really feel like working out or not, four times per week at 6:00am, I will be in my backyard working out! In my case, I also like making lists, and checking things off. The lists will then “motivate” me when I have no other form of motivation, after all, I want to make sure that I am checking off all of the things that are on my list. I am surprisingly annoyed when I do not get to check something off of my list.

Now it is time for you to figure out what is happening with your motivation level. If it is high, that is amazing, and you should share your secrets (go check us out on Facebook and leave us a message)! If it is low, you have to find your own way to start moving, and, hopefully, in a healthy manner. Perhaps you can make your own list, or write in a journal about the things that you want to have accomplished in the next few weeks. Motivation is about moving, and, for most people, motivation is not something that necessarily comes naturally, but something that you will have to work at. You can do it, it just will not be easy!

And now you have a bit more insight in to me as a person, I hope that it helps to know that therapists are regular people too, and often need to remember our own “best advice” in order to live our own “best life.”