If you’re new to this blog, you may not know that I don’t celebrate holidays. This is the time of the year when I have to defend myself against the naysayers who cannot believe for the life of them why I would forsake Christmas (*insert eye roll*), and be on the lookout for people who would want to deceive me into celebrating. For me, the winter months are just as “cold” as the weather. It’s a stressful time. I can already feel the clouds closing in on me and my motivation plummeting.
That’s why I wanted to send you a quick message on motivation just in case you’ve felt your energy draining too. How do we stay motivated even when it’s hard?
Balancing Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Motivation comes from two sources. Intrinsic motivation comes from within you. For example, the desire to publish your book may be important to you. The satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in the world by adding your voice and experience is gratifying and provides you with an internal reward.
Extrinsic motivation comes from outside you (environment, family, friends, e.g.) and encourages you to achieve your goal by providing external rewards. An example of this might be the encouragement you receive from someone you love for the potential for your testimony to change lives. They may push you to publish your memoir or put in extra hours at the gym. They may say, “Wow, looking good girl!” You know you don’t really look good (you literally just started working out yesterday), but those kinds of positive reinforcements give you that little push you need to keep going
For times like these, it’s a good idea to balance both the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in our lives. That is, managing inspiration that comes from ourselves and from others.
Don’t Stretch Yourself Too Thin
I bought a book at the Decatur Book Festival I will be reviewing as soon as I find the time. As de Old People Would Say is a collection of Caribbean Pearls of Wisdom & Experiences. The collection was inspired by the author’s great grandmother who was born and raised in the British Virgin Islands and moved to the US Virgin Islands as a teenager. I love this book! It’s like sitting at the foot of the elders and soaking up all the wisdom of their experiences. One saying is:
“Doan hang yoh hat whey yoh han’ cyan reach.”
Translation: Don’t hang your hat where your hand can’t reach.
The sayings have their meanings under them so the everyday person can understand it. This saying means not to overextend yourself. If you know something is too much for you, don’t put yourself in the position. I used to think loving myself was giving so much of myself to others that there was nothing left for me. When I did this, I burned myself out and had to step back. Don’t spread yourself too thin by taking on too many tasks.
A mismatch between your habits and your schedule causes stress.
Limit Social Media Time
We mimic what we are around the most and in this now technological world we must now consider social media as a part of that. Being around people is no longer limited to being physically around them. When it comes to social media, people have become far too comfortable and tend to use the platform to whine, complain, and criticize others. Even worse, there’s a strange habit of sneak dissing. For those of you unaware, sneak dissing is when someone’s post is a cryptic, subliminal message to someone else. They may think that person is wrong about something or is in need of correction in general. The person disagrees with how that person lives their life in some way. Instead of reaching out to the person privately, the sneak disser will publish a post that is speaking indirectly to the person they wish to correct. It is a form of passive-aggression.
If this sounds cowardly, it is. Social media has many good uses. Unfortunately, it has become a platform for cowards. We don’t talk to each other anymore. Instead, we post how we feel on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Limiting your social media time will help you to stay focused on what’s important and you’ll develop the healthy habit of ignoring non-sense. Less time on social media will also help you to develop better posts when you are logged in. The time to think will certainly help to guide your posting decisions.
If you find yourself lacking in motivation, it may be time to clean up your environment on and offline.
Control Your Emotions: Mind Over Matter
Mind over matter is a popular saying for a reason. Cliche as it may be, it has a powerful meaning. If you can elevate your mental thoughts, you can master the physical things around you to include your actions. For instance, I used to think of this time of the year as “the darkest time of the year.” Although I still do in some ways, I have stopped speaking that over my life. Why cast those kinds of spells over yourself? If you stay in the light, there can be no darkness. One way to stay positive is to stop allowing our emotions to be controlled by others. The truth is that you will never stop suffering if you have an emotional reaction to everything people say about you. Learn to sit back and observe. Let stones people throw at you be used to stand on and the dirt to plant you. Haters are secret admirers and you should be honored to be the source of their inspiration.
Let attacks be the source of growth. Watch, pay attention and master yourself before your thoughts master you.
Do Something Fun
If your life is all about work, you are probably stressed out or just boring. Take a break every now and again to do something that has nothing to do with work, writing, or children. Don’t be afraid to have some fun. A good way to do this is to reward yourself. For example, after doing well on an assignment from one of my classes I decided to stop studying to catch up on one of my favorite TV shows. I also make it a rule not to work continuously for too long. It’s important not to get too comfortable but the breaks help keep me refreshed and excited about getting back to work. I am also one of the grown people who believe in taking naps. I also enjoy a glass of wine every now and again. I try to limit myself so that when I do drink, it’s a reward for working hard (and not just because it’s Thursday…seriously, drink too much and that starts to affect your outward appearance. You’ll be thirty and look forty. It’s a good idea to moderate your alcohol intake too.)
Over the next few days, I challenge you to think about an inside and outside reward that could help to keep you motivated in your darkest hour. Do you get your drive, your need to succeed, and your willingness to make a difference from inside of you (intrinsic)? Are you inspired by someone else who generates enthusiasm for you (extrinsic) or perhaps a combination of the two? Does the motivation you feel infuse you with the enthusiasm to achieve your goals even when it may become difficult?
Remember to take care of your mental health.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of Yah. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of Yah that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Wanda wants nothing more than to escape the oppressive upbringing of life with her abusive foster mother. Miss Cassaundra manipulates the system by bringing lost children into her home turned whorehouse and collecting the money. Wanda knows what it’s like to be abandoned and has no doubt Abby is Cassaundra’s next case. When an opportunity arises, that could save them both, Wanda must find a way to get the paperwork that will secure their freedom. But Cassaundra’s got eyes everywhere and no one can be trusted when even salt looks like sugar.
Welcome back to No Whining Wednesday, the only day of the week where you do not get to whine, complain or criticize for this entire 24hr day. If you are new to this blog or new to this segment, be sure to see the original post HEREfor more on what this is all about.
I am sitting here drinking my coffee and reflecting and one thing comes to mind today: “EC, stop overthinking!”
I hope you know by now that the inspiration for these NWW messages come from what I tell myself or what I’ve learned on a very personal level at some time or another. That said, I overthink a lot which leads to anxiety, fear, and a host of other things that sneak in through this “overthinking doorway”. It gets to where I have to step away from social media completely if I am overstimulated. (I am probably the only person who deactivates their Facebook like every two weeks…don’t tell me you haven’t noticed. Speaking of which, it’s about that time lol.)
I say all of this to say that I understand the harm that overthinking can do to a person mind, to their health and to their ability to enjoy the moment. You’re always thinking about what could go wrong or if you’ve done something wrong instead of what could go right and if you’ve done something right. Like the quote says, when we overthink we are creating problems that aren’t there. This is torture of our minds and personal well-being. We are already under attack by others (either people are rooting for you or casting spells, better believe it), there’s absolutely no reason to add to this by doing this to ourselves.
Here are some harmful results of overthinking and I must add, not overthinking is harder than it sounds so don’t beat yourself up about it. Reclaiming that peace takes practice and time like everything else:
Limits you – Instead of taking action you are sitting there thinking about it and creating limitations that weren’t there before and will probably never exist.
Complicates things – Simple things now seem complicated. This is not just in relation to our personal lives but I notice we do this in Indie Publishing too. Sooo much is over-complicated. Honestly, it’s not that hard. I wish we could focus on encouraging each other to learn the basics and building on that instead of creating these long lists of things that will come naturally over-time if we just wait.
Depression – Overthinking leads to depression. Really bad depression.
Lack of Confidence – Over-thinkers expect bad things to happen instead of expecting good things to happen. This causes you to lack confidence in your abilities.
Fear – As a result, you are in a constant state of fear (anxiety is no laughing matter and it is, at its root, caused by fear)
Depletes Your Energy – You literally tire yourself out from thinking too much. The energy you could have used to be productive is now gone.
I hope this small list helps you to not think so much and sometimes you do have to take physical action. For instance, I turned my phone off until I finished this post. Stepping away from social media is also a great help for me. Whenever I feel that I am overdoing it I step back and it gives me peace. I’m an introvert at heart so I can only take so much.
There are two kinds of walls that hinder us in our lives. The first wall is there naturally and I wouldn’t even call it a wall. It is more like a warning; that blockage there to indicate a possible or impending danger. It exists to stop you from being involved in situations that do you harm or that cause you to make a life altering mistake. It’s that internal alarm that rings, warning you that something is not right, something does not vibe, or that something is about to go wrong.
Some people call it anxiety, fear or paranoia and while these exists, this feeling is none of these. You’re not paranoid. Your body is just telling you that something is wrong. Sometimes it happens when you’re around certain people. Sometimes you’ll say, “It’s something about him or her”. That’s because when the vibe isn’t right, the entire body reacts.
I remember having that feeling when I was eighteen years old. I was out on a date and I got this extreme nervous, anxiety feeling. I wanted to turn around but felt it was too late as we were already entering the restaurant. That night ended with me in the hospital and five staples in my head.
We were jumped by a group of men and women. There were just too many of them. We were thankful to make it out alive.
Even so, not all walls are natural internal clocks. Some walls are built by us.
Sometimes the wall exists because you built it. A person cannot move their hand to do what the mind does not already believe it is capable of doing. Not having the strength to persist is one thing but having the strength and choosing not to be strong is another thing entirely. Growth isn’t always what you can see but we often walk by sight and not faith. As such, we hinder ourselves because we didn’t really believe it was possible.
I know that people say to “Believe in yourself”, but that’s the problem. I don’t believe achieving anything of value is about believing in yourself but in something greater than you. But you do have to reach inside of yourself and find that excitement for the possibilities. Not even that you’ve made it, because none of us have, but the mere possibility. As my sister says, have a now faith not just a future faith. Rejoice on the journey, not just the arrival. And while the goal is so much bigger than you, the choice to begin starts with you.
There’s a quote by Andrew Murphy that says, “You’re confined only by the walls you build yourself”.
“People only work within the confines of how they perceive themselves, and when your self-esteem is low, that perception is usually far from the truth. You won’t be successful until you believe that you are truly worthy of it.” – Stephanie Lennox
Sometimes it’s worth considering that we’re not limited by resources, or understanding, or support but by our own walls. It’s mind over matter. It’s like people who sit down for a card game and proclaim, “I’m not really good”. I guess you’re not. You took yourself out of the equation before you even started. These are the walls we build.
Ultimately, the only time anything possesses power over us is when we weaken ourselves.
I’ve had this book for awhile; loaned to me by another sister. I never completely finished reading it, and as I scrolled my library for a neat snack, it wasn’t too high on my priority list. But as I now found myself flipping through pages, Chapter 10 caught my attention:
“Writer’s are people who tolerate a high level of anxiety. We have a talent for holding up well under tension. Anyone can start writing. To keep on creating and to grow as a writer you also believe you suck. You question everything you write. I know writing students who really do seem to believe they are great, they love writing, they write a lot, they seem blandly cheerful….they spew out words. They have no doubt, they reveal no anxiety. I think that is great. But my students who are doing really fine work, really committing themselves to writing honestly, deeply, and truly—-they have anxiety. They doubt themselves all the time. Writing stuff that is going to affect other people intensely is walking a fine line between anxiety and pleasure—-its a vibe you ride.”
I actually love this advice. I find it present not just in writing but other forms of art as well. Some of the most nervous, most introverted people are the most talented: the “Brilliantly Untalented” and Undiscovered Geniuses. This is not to say you party goers out there should worry. Nor is this to say the introverted are overcome with intense fear, for fear and faith cannot coexist (one will rule out the other). But they have a kind of humility that seems to balance out the negative components of anxiety. They know that there is talent present, but they also believe that they suck. Is it contradictory? It may be, but yet this contradiction keeps them writing and keeps you reading. Every time I’m on stage to recite a poem my stomach turns into butterflies and it feels like everybody in the world is depending on me to deliver them from a crisis. It is a feeling of great pressure. Its an understanding that though I’ve been given a gift to bestow upon my audience, I am simultaneously aware that this gift is not mine; that it belongs to one greater than myself. Then I notice, that in such anxiety, I’ve tapped into a kind of depth people could really feel. I did not have to think too hard about it. Did not think so grand of myself that I would begin editing my soul I just spoke, hoping the butterflies won’t make it so far up my throat. My belief that I am nothing, that I suck, and that I am Brilliantly Untalented, has in the end seemed to always produce the greatest work.