How to Motivate Yourself Without Hating YourselfOct 31, 2022
A few weeks ago, I had a session with somebody where I told them probably the most annoying thing I ever figured out on my own healing journey, which is this: If I rely on my belief that I am broken not enough and need to be fixed to be my primary motivator to accomplish my goals, then this requires me to maintain a belief that I am not good enough or broken and in need of fixing in order to be motivated to continue showing up in pursuit of my goals. This leads to not being able to celebrate my achievements, because it would confront the primary motivation that I have to continue showing up. So then I'm afraid that I would just not show up.
If I was going to summarize what I learned there, it's that I can't rely on self hate to get things done. And I don't think that a lot of people really understand how much they do rely on self hatred and shame as a motivator for them to show up.
Really seeing this and actively choosing to move away from shame-based motivation was one of the biggest mindset shifts I ever made in my life. I have five planets in Capricorn, so I'm an extremely goal oriented person. I'm also an only child, I'm a queer person, I'm a lesbian—and at the intersections of these things has been feeling throughout my life, you know that I had a lot to prove to other people. I also have Chiron on my ascendant, and if you know anything about astrology, then you know that that's a placement that has to do with a deep core wound to Self. Chiron conjunct your ascendant is a placement that really speaks to a person who never feels like there are enough. This is what I've had to do a tremendous amount of healing on in my life.
Throughout all of my 20s, I would say that meeting my goals was really what I thought what life was about. Achieving my goals. Going after what I wanted. Hustling and grinding towards my goals. That was what I thought my purpose in life was. This primarily showed up for me at work, and really wanting to advance into the highest position in my career that I thought would yield respect from my peers and my colleagues and people who knew me. And when I would go to out to parties, my career accomplishments were for sure the main thing that I talked about. It never mattered how impressed people were, I never felt like I was where I wanted to be or where I should be.
Releasing Shame-Based Motivation
When I was about 28 years old that I met this guy named Keith, who was the older boyfriend of one of my friends. Keith was always really supportive of me when I would share my career updates and accomplishments, but I would get really frustrated with him because I would sometimes share these big opportunities that were being offered to me, he'd always just like smile, and ask, "Is that what you want?"
What do you mean? Is that what I want? Why wouldn't that be what I want? This is literally what I've been working towards for years of my life. So like, Who wouldn't want this? Why wouldn't I want this?
Even though Keith didn't know me super well, he could see so clearly something that I couldn't see in myself: I was really listening to other people more than I was listening to myself. I was prioritizing how other people perceived my accomplishments and what I was doing more than how I was perceiving them, or how I truly felt about them.
This question of "Is that what you want," was frustrating and confronting, but eventually, it really forced me to be aware that I had some work to do with listening to myself and knowing what I truly wanted, outside of what I thought other people would find impressive.
My commitment and dedication to my career, my health, my physical fitness, my inner healing, even at that time, trying to make myself better a better person to be in a relationship with—all of that work and dedication to improvement and self improvement was really admirable from the outside. But Keith was definitely on to a dirty secret that really wasn't much of a secret: I really used my work and my career and my accomplishments to distract myself from myself, and to tune out the inner voice within me.
In order to show what a valuable and irreplaceable asset I was to my employer, friends and family, I worked constantly and over-scheduled my life. The blank space on my calendar meant I wasn’t doing enough or being valuable. If there was a blank space in my life, I could obviously do more, right?
Dropping the Ball
As I've been reflecting on how I learned to release shame-based motivation, I continuously come back to this story that I heard at a conference back when I worked in as a public speaking coach. It's a story that was told by Tiffany Dufu, the author of Drop the Ball. Below you'll find a video of her speaking—I highly recommend watching it!
One of the insights that's always really stuck with me from her is this story: She was speaking to a roomful of women. They all had to write down everything that they expected themselves to get done in a day, then they had to go back and put how much time they estimated each of those tasks would take. Not a single person in the room had a list that was less than 24 hours—and the vast majority of women didn't include things like eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom on their list.
To me, this is a really poignant story for so many reasons that we could look at it from many different angles. We could look at it from a feminist lens, we could look at it from a capitalist lens. But to me at the end of the day, what it really comes down to is that so many people are walking around having totally unrealistic expectations of themselves, and are so deeply disconnected from their actual needs and getting their actual needs met.
The idea that we could even be thinking about, like what we want to do for pleasure and joy and fun, obvious like it, honestly, it feels so unattainable and out of the realm of possibility for so many people all of the time.
Doing something simply because I wanted to or it would be fun was not something that felt very accessible to me for a long time. While other people seemed to be content doing one thing or staying in one place, I always felt pressure to develop and become something greater. I needed to advance and improve.
It wasn’t necessarily that I felt I had to impress people — but that I believed the source of my value was based on what I gave to other people. If I was improving, then I could offer more. This need for constant improvement required me to always give more of myself in order to become more valuable. If I wasn’t giving myself and my energy away to others, then I wasn’t valuable.
I was constantly searching for that thing. My thing. I tried so many things and moved in and out of different groups, trying to find the place where I would fit in and where others would appreciate me.
If I saw that I was good at something, I felt like, Okay, I should do this, I should do more of this, I should offer this skill that I'm able to do that other people aren't able to do."
I was equating the skills that I had, the time and the energy and the resources that I had to offer to other people, as what was defining my worth, and value as a human.
The truth is that while the skills and resources that I have to offer the world are incredibly valuable, and they're beautiful, and it's beautiful, that I want to share them with other people. I am inherently worthy and valuable, whether I share those skills with people or not.
Connecting to My Inherent Worthiness
I am inherently worthy and valuable, just by virtue of my existence here on Earth. This is what the Earth has taught me. This is what plants have taught me.
The Earth allies that I work with are the pathway that took me from this place that I was where I felt that I had no value and my only way to motivate myself was improving myself and creating more value within myself so that I would have more value to offer to others.
The Earth allies that I work with and have worked with over the last several years have taught me that all I ever have to do is be present with what I love, and to be present with that feeling of joy and love that rises up from within myself and it's not something that any one any person could ever give to me. It's something that I give to myself because it's literally within me. It's the energy that moves me through the world.
At one point in time if I was reading somebody saying this I would have rolled my eyes so far into the back of my head, I wouldn't have been able to see straight for months.
For most of my life, I literally would tell people, "I struggle with joy. I'm a person that struggles with joy."
What I've learned about how to motivate myself is something that I never would have believed that this is something that I would come to not only know to be true, but to tell other people that this is the truth.
I would never have thought that the question, "Does what I'm doing bring me joy?" was an important question. I would have never even told somebody that that was a question I was asking myself, because I would have thought that focusing on what brings me joy, and what brings me pleasure was frivolous, and stupid, and honestly shameful, and not something that you should ever focus on.
It turns out that this is an incredibly important question. While Jupiter has been my lord of the year, it especially has made this so incredibly obvious to me that this is actually one of the most important questions that you should ask yourself every single day, and I never use the word should. I don't ever tell anyone that they should do anything, because I don't believe it's my place to tell people what they should and should not do. However, I will tell you that if I was ever going to tell you that there's one question you should ask yourself, this is the question that you should ask yourself.
How to Motivate Yourself Without Shame (and Why It's Important)
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Ever since I posted this reel a few weeks ago, I've had so many people comment and message me literally every single day, asking me, "So what do you use to motivate yourself?"
The truth is that you have to learn how to motivate yourself from within, through what brings you pleasure, and joy, and allows you to express yourself creatively and allows you to express yourself authentically. That is actually incredibly hard to do, because in spite of what many of us believe, we really haven't been taught to connect with joy, as an emotion, and to connect with joy as the emotion that's the driving force in our life.
When I talk to people about being motivated from a place of joy, their minds tend to go towards, "well, then I would just sit on the couch and watch TV all of the time," or "then I would never get any work done." Or, "then I would just go spend a bunch of money at Target or something like that."
The first thing that I would say in response to that is if you think about doing those activities, and you envision yourself doing those activities, would you say that you're experiencing joy as you're doing those things? And there's no right or wrong answer to that question. For me personally, sitting and watching TV is not usually the experience that brings me immense joy and pleasure. It can be fun, it can be a way to disconnect and relax. But a lot of the times I'm not really present when I'm watching TV, you know, I'm on my phone, I'm on my computer. It's just kind of something that's happening in the background. around. And it's not this pure, joyful expression. Even if I envision myself on the couch, I'm kind of like curled into myself.
Now, that's my experience of watching TV. And that may not be your experience. I really admire Lauren Elizabeth Coaching, who talks a lot about how to make pleasure at the center of your business, especially from a feminist perspective. I know that she has written about that she watches a lot of TV and that TV is something that really brings her a lot of pleasure and joy and satisfaction. She has actually taken her love of watching TV and she's incorporated that into her plan for what she does every single week for how she spends her time. She makes it a priority.
For me, personally, the easiest way that I can connect with the emotion and experience of joy is cuddling with my dog, Thistle. Nothing brings me more joy and pleasure and satisfaction than spending time with my dog. I have made that a huge priority in my business and my life. I've worked from home for several years, literally, so that I could be at home with my dog. That's something that a lot of people would think was like frivolous and stupid and not a priority.
And like them, maybe, when I first heard about this concept of leading with what brings you pleasure leading with what brings you joy, prioritizing what brings you pleasure and joy, specifically in your work and in your business. I just I honestly I thought it was so stupid. How could that ever possibly work? I'm here to tell you, it works.
Why Motivating Yourself Through Pleasure Works
Here's a story about why it works:
Earlier this year, I did a launch in my business for this class called Cosmic Cycles, which is a 12-week astrology class that I taught last year around this time. The first time I launched this class, it was like one of the most successful launches I've ever had. I was incredibly excited and really motivated to make this an amazing class and an amazing experience for my students that signed up for it. In the beginning, I was really enjoying the process of putting the modules together, putting together all of the course content, and getting it out to the students every single week. As the weeks went on, I noticed that I was hearing less from the people who had signed up for the class. I wasn't getting as many emails. I wasn't getting as many people coming to the q&a sessions. There were a few people who stuck it out and they went through the whole thing. But I just really wasn't getting as much feedback as I wanted to. That made it really hard for me to continue showing up to create the course content. But I did—and I was really relieved when I finished the class. At the end I thought, "Okay, there's some things I would do differently next time. But I'll do it again. And I'll make it better and I'll improve it. And I know that I can make an even better course than what I did the first time."
Then I went to launch the course again and I had hardly anyone sign up. It wasn't enough for me to do the class. It wasn't enough for me to continue creating this course that I had envisioned. I can tell you, part of the reason why that launch wasn't successful, and it wasn't because I didn't do enough emails. It wasn't because I didn't do enough Instagram posts. It wasn't because I didn't try hard enough, it wasn't because I didn't focus on the right things on my lunch. These are the things that I thought were the problem when the class wasn't a success.
The real problem was, I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to teach that class, I had taught the class. I found the process of making the course to be something that was kind of a chore. Because I found it to be kind of a chore, and it really wasn't something that brought me joy and pleasure, I just really didn't want to show up to make that class. People could feel that I didn't want to do it. They could feel on some level, "Yeah, you're putting this offer out into the world, but you, you don't really see him like this is what you want to focus your time and your energy and attention on."
And over the course of this year, I have seen that scenario play out a few times.
Now I'm going to tell you about a different scenario. After that course, didn't go very well. I needed to get an influx of money into my business, because I actually got COVID around that point in time, too. My business is my full time job and my full time income. so that was money that I was counting on that because the launch didn't go as well as I wanted. And because I was sick, I really needed to make some additional money.
I decided to do something completely different than what I had ever done before. I offered a hypnosis, storytelling, guided journey inspired by Alice in Wonderland. I launched it for two weeks and it was one of the most successful launches I've ever had. The reason why it was successful, was not because of the price. It wasn't because of how much time I spent on the launch. It wasn't because of the content that I put together for the launch. Of course, all of that stuff plays a factor. But the biggest difference was that I really wanted to do this hypnosis, storytelling, guided journey, inspired by Alice in Wonderland. I had so much fun getting people to sign up. I had so much fun creating it. I had so much fun doing it. And I walked out of that experience saying, "I want to do this again, I want to do more of this."
That makes a huge difference. When I finished the 12-week astrology course I thought, "That was really hard. I would change some things I need to improve and make it better." When I finished the the hypnosis storytelling hour I felt like, "Wow, what a blast. That was so much fun. I can't wait to do it again."
Physically, the way that I experienced it in my body was completely different. When I finished the 12 week astrology course, I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep all of the time. I felt like just this feeling of just depletion and exhaustion. When I finished the hypnosis, storytelling guided journey, I felt this huge sense of expansiveness and excitement and openness. And I left that class and went on to do more creatively in my business that I have in the almost four years that I've been running my business.
That is why prioritizing pleasure and joy, not only in our businesses, but in our goals is so incredibly important. When you actually want to do something, and you're not just doing it, because you think you're supposed to, or you think that other people want you to do it, or you think that other people expect you to do it, the way that you show up as a person fundamentally changes. The way that you feel when you achieve your goals is a totally different experience.
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