Motivation

Yeah, that’s about how I feel. The motivation is not there. Now, under normal circumstances, having no motivation is not actually common for me. I might not get certain things done, but it’s not due to lack of motivation. Every once in a while there is an issue, but it’s usually temporary and then I move on. This lack of motivation is completely different.

A lot of people feel this way right now. We have things to do, but we just don’t feel like doing them. Under normal circumstances, we are programmed to shame ourselves for these feelings. Almost every culture in the world is a shaming culture so this is probably an issue for almost everyone.

It’s important to understand why we might be “unmotivated.” It has nothing to do with being lazy. It most likely has to do with the uncertainty we all face. We have no idea what’s going to happen long term. We get nothing but lies from the White House. That does not bode well (at least if you know anything about America and the Spanish Influenza). The future is on shaky ground. While some of us who have lived lives where bad things happen on repeat, so to speak, have always understood this fact, it doesn’t mean that our psyches are able to deal with something of this scale and extent. We usually haven’t even learned how to deal with any of our normal stuff so this one is not going to be easy.

I was thinking through this last night while working through an Internal Family Systems Therapy exercise from Self-Therapy. What many of us are calling a lack of motivation is actually our “mind’s” way of protecting itself from the fear we face. But it serves another purpose as well. We know more bad things are going to be happening so if we go into this sort of state of inactivity, our mind feels as if it might be ready to handle more bad stuff. We know if we freak out now, then we will break later.

In IFS therapy, this sort of “person” is called a protector. This person inside you (I’ve generally always referred to it vaguely with the use of the term “mind” before I found better descriptors through IFS) is trying to keep you safe from harm.

You may have never met up with this part of your psyche before. Maybe you’ve had a relatively calm life. Yes, there’ve been trials, but there’s never been a long-term catastrophe like this one. Or, you might be like me, and this protector is such an old friend that it took you several days to really comprehend what was happening inside.

In either case, the most important thing for you to do is NOT bash yourself for it. If you bash yourself it will only make things worse. I find that accepting that protector and acknowledging the work they do as something good actually helps it chill.

I know, it all sounds kinda nuts. We are not used to viewing ourselves in such a way. And we definitely aren’t used to being kind to our perceived weaknesses. But that is entirely my point. This is NOT a weakness. This is a strength. This is your mind’s way of trying to help you through this time. Don’t belittle yourself, it will just make everything get worse.

I watched a really good video about this last night on YouTube. It was an actual IFS session between two IFS therapists and it demonstrated just how being accepting and loving toward these parts actually makes them calm down and helps you to function better.

I’m not therapist at all, but I have been in some bad therapy situations. As I watched this video I was reminded of all of them. Generally, for whatever reason, therapists often adopt the culture’s propensity to shame. Example: It wasn’t until I started reading about IFS that I could begin to deal with my fear of the mail and phone calls, both stemming from 25 years of financial abuse (among other abuses) by my ex. Both problems only shamed by a therapist I tried to talk to about them.

In IFS therapy, shame is excluded. Your parts are there for a reason, whatever reason there might be.

There is no reason to talk trash to yourself (or anyone else) in this time of struggle. Take time to understand why you are feeling what you are feeling. Then you can turn around and help those who are stuck in the house with you. We are all suffering right now. Shaming ourselves and each other, while never helpful at all, is even a worse idea in our current situation.

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