Motivation & Identity

Let’s face it – everyone has lost motivation to do something they really enjoy at least once in their life. I know I recently lost mine to keep up with this blog for nearly two weeks, and it’s made me feel horrible.

Why? What kept you from updating the blog?

I just finished experiencing one of my “down” periods. I reverted back to old coping mechanisms, which consisted of me playing Super Mario Bros. 2 while snuggled away in my bed feeling sorry for myself. It felt good even though I was doing something bad because it was familiar to me. I am used to lying down in my bed, playing an old game, trying to escape uncomfortable feelings. It doesn’t work, but that doesn’t stop my body from wanting to do it.

I have also had new things take up a little bit of my time, such as reintroducing certain family members back into my life. This has been good for me, but still, it’s time consuming.

Is this going to be a frequent thing?

Probably. I hate to say it, but it’s the nature of the beast with having my Borderline Personality Disorder. Or, I should say that it’ll be a habit until I figure out how to keep my motivation going.

Or, maybe I shouldn’t even say “frequent.” I should say “unpredictable” instead. Remember that one post I wrote talking about our emotional roller coasters? That’s really what it is. When I’m in a down period, I don’t blog or do anything productive. I sit and mope. I sit and wait for things to come to me, even though I know it doesn’t work that way.

What do you have to show in teaching people about motivation?

A lovely man by the name of Leo Babatua writes for his website called ZenHabits. It’s a wonderful little site, and it’s the one website I make sure to check every day. He gives out excellent advice on everything in life, from simplifying life to enjoying it. Coincidentally, he almost lost his motivation to update his own site around the same time I did. There’s a beautiful post he’s written on motivation, and I will quote his passage on “losing your identity” in order to gain your motivation back. It really speaks volumes…

We all have this picture of ourselves, this idea of what kind of person we are. When this idea gets threatened, we can react very defensively. People can question whether we did a good job, and this threatens our idea of ourselves as competent — and so we can become angry or hurt at the criticism. Someone can accuse you of lying and this threatens your idea that you’re a good person, and so you can get angry and attack the other person. My identity of myself as someone who is motivated and productive and has good ideas and so forth … this was getting in the way this morning. When I wasn’t productive, it made me despair because then I was worried I wasn’t who I thought I was. My solution was to realize that I’m not one thing. I’m not always productive — sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m lazy. I’m not always motivated — sometimes I am, but other times I don’t feel like working. I don’t always have good ideas. I can be many things, and so this identity of mine becomes less fragile, more antifragile. Then it doesn’t matter if someone thinks I didn’t do a good job — because I don’t always do a good job. I make mistakes, I am less than perfect. And that’s perfectly OK.


What does losing your identity have anything to do with gaining motivation?

The passage I just quoted is my favorite because I get wrapped up in self-identity a lot. I’ve spent a good part of my life trying to make it appear that everything is under control on the outside when in reality, my whole life is just a cluster fuck of everything that can go wrong. We lose ourselves in wanting to appear better than we are. We worry when it gets threatened because then we look like idiots. Or, so we think.

I hate it whenever I’m afraid this good façade I’ve created for myself will get trampled on. It happens a lot for me. I’m sure it’s happened to a lot of other people too because Babatua wrote about it, he has millions of readers. Given those things, is it really any surprise that this rings true for some people?

Are you thinking about your self-identity now and how you’re coming across?

Yes. I want you to as well.

Examine just how much effort you put into your self-identity. Look at your motivation. Does your self-identity guide your motivation, or is it the other way around? Do you find yourself getting wrapped up in self-identity? Are you afraid of what will happen if you lose your motivation?

Motivation is a tricky beast to handle. If you ever master it, let me know.


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