One thing all abuse survivors encounter sometimes is a lack of motivation. Sometimes it's that our depression makes us feel like our efforts are worthless, or that our panic keeps us frozen, or sometimes it's that we're putting so much effort into our healing process that everyday things like eating, communicating, and working become too exhausting to accomplish. Recovery and regaining our stability and happiness after trauma is exhausting work - and so few of us get the support we need from family, co-workers, or even the government to allow us the time we need to heal - jobs are often just as demanding, rent is still due, I'm sure you all know the feeling.
When we do get a rest from working towards our goals, we struggle between taking a moment to rest and using that time to accomplish more everyday things. Finding the motivation to get even a few of the everyday things done in addition to therapy, etc. can be grueling, and that's what this week's question concerns: motivation.
So, this week's questions:
1) When do you most often encounter difficulties getting motivated? Is it easier for you to motivate yourself towards therapy and healing, or easier to focus on job-related work or everyday tasks and chores?
2) If you do have problems with motivation, do you have any ways of finding that motivation? How is it that you motivate yourself?
and the bonus question:
What form of motivation has been most effective for you, personally, to help you achieve your goals?
I encounter my biggest problems with motivations when I've been having a lot of PTSD symptoms - nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, depression - it makes everything seem like such a huge ordeal that each task feels like climbing a mountain. I have my biggest problems with the everyday sort of chores - cooking, showering, eating, etc. They can all get an endless feel to them, which makes it really hard for me to motivate to get them done.
Finding motivation... I do it a lot of ways. Sometimes I offer myself a reward - if I finish one task that I'm dreading, I'll go buy myself my favorite candy bar, or I'll sit and watch a favorite movie, or I'll go for a walk, etc. Another way I find motivation is in commiseration! A lot of my friends struggle to find motivation, too, so we'll make motivation-sort-of-pacts: "Okay, you study for your exam, and I'll go do my therapy homework". It makes it feel less like I'm alone in the task, or in the feelings I'm going through. Another motivation-finder is my "wall of love" - I have a wall dedicated to things that remind me of my strengths. Included on that wall are notes and letters from my friends about why they love me, about the strength they see in me, etc. Also on that wall are things I've accomplished - reminders of a tour of Europe I did in high school, a picture of a blue whale I helped do a necropsy on, etc. I can look at that wall and be reminded that I've got the strength to get some things done - it helps me a lot.
But, by far, the thing that helps me the most with motivation? To-do lists. My trick is to put tasks down in the smallest steps possible. Instead of writing "Clean apartment", I'll write "Dust living room, vacuum living room, tidy living room. Dust kitchen, vacuum kitchen, etc." - breaking down the tasks into smaller pieces makes it a lot easier to summon the motivation, and gives me more time for breaks in between tasks. Plus - if I have the energy to completely accomplish four small tasks, I have gotten to cross four things off the list, instead of not being able to cross off a more encompassing task. I like crossing things out, with big, bright red lines... so you can see from halfway across my apartment that I've completed something.
For me, those small-step task lists remind me that though I might not get it *all* done, that I have gotten a *lot* done, and helps me focus on the positive.
So what motivates you? What do you struggle with? This will be a great opportunity to learn some more ways to help get us through the times when getting out of bed might even be a daunting task.