I’m often asked by clients how to find the motivation to begin or continue on a path that leads to a positive change in their lives. While I have a few suggestions for them, it’s always been difficult for me to know exactly how to help them. The way I look at it, motivation comes from the outside. If you’re looking for something to motivate you, you can probably find it for short term success. For example, maybe an upcoming class reunion will give you the incentive to lose those few extra pounds.
But if you’re wanting long-term change, I believe what you need to find is inspiration. Inspiration comes from within. For some, this is a difficult concept – that they can inspire themselves to make a change. These are probably the people who have continual intellectual violence going on inside their heads – all those negative thoughts or memes they have entertained for years. Most of us will have the same negative thoughts today that we had yesterday and last year and for years before that. Those are the memes (mind viruses) we’ve learned from our parents or society. Like any other virus, they are successful in doing their jobs – duplicating themselves while we feel worse and worse about ourselves. (See Mind Virus by Richard Brodie)
The way to change this is to first, be conscious of your thoughts. If you want to change something, you first have to determine what the negative belief about yourself is around the situation, because that’s what drives your emotions and behaviors. Your beliefs stem from the thoughts you are feeding. Those that gain weight by the constant feeding become your belief. If you conclude that you need to change that belief, it’s time to begin pumping yourself with more positive thoughts. That doesn’t mean you have to be Stewart Smalley (for those of you old enough to remember SNL that far back).
This is where the external triggers can be helpful. Look for places to get more positive input. I listen to audiobooks, podcasts and music that inspires me. I do it daily. Although I’m a pretty positive person, I do wake up grumpy often – and if I don’t listen to my inspirational input, I can stay that way.
For me it works well to listen to my ipod while I’m working out or walking. Then I make every effort to meditate afterward to connect with my higher power and to center myself. Sometimes, I use a mantra to focus on an issue or relationship I want to change. On days when I can’t do either or both of these, I make a concerted effort to stay in the moment, and practice gratitude for every little thing that happens.
But you don’t have to do it my way. Just look for ways you can feed your mind with whatever inspires you. It doesn’t have to be about the change you’re trying to make, but just something that is positive & makes you feel good – funny videos on YouTube or TV or reading the Bible or a meditation book. Whatever you choose, you do need to do it consistently and often.
Most of all, don’t be so self-critical when you fall off the wagon & forget to feed yourself those positive thoughts and feelings. Just climb back on at the next opportunity. Quit thinking so much and pat yourself on the back for being ready for the next step.