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_Survivors_
A safe space to share stories and ask questions
Thought stirring 
21st-Mar-2006 12:16 pm
Bear
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.
Comments 
21st-Mar-2006 09:29 am (UTC)
I struggle with everything. Just trying to get through a normal day is often more than I feel I can take. It's gotten to the point where last year I did break down and apply for government help. I have a little voice inside my head that tells me I'm just lazy but I've been trying not to listen. It's not true anyway.

Nothing that I can think of, I've been having stunning problems with inertia and depression lately. I wish I COULD find a way to motivate myself, even to want to live at this point.
21st-Mar-2006 09:47 am (UTC)
Indeed - it's much more than laziness... it's sheer exhaustion from all the work we need to do to even get out of bed in the morning ::hugs::

hopefully some of the things discussed here with the other members might help
21st-Mar-2006 09:31 am (UTC)
So, this week's questions:
1) When do you most often encounter difficulties getting motivated?

When I have an incident, such as a flashback or a nightmare.

--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?

With me, sometimes being distracted does help. But it's hard for me to do everyday tasks when I am seriously upset. It helps me more to actually focus on the issue and try to find some form of peace.


2) If you do have problems with motivation, do you have any ways of finding that motivation? How is it that you motivate yourself?

- Well, I have several therapy books I use but I like to talk myself out of being unmotivated. I'm very interested in where my bad thoughts originate from because usually if I can understand the problem it doesn't seem as overwhelming and scary. It also helps me a LOT to talk to people about it who care about me and give me positive feedback and support.

and the bonus question:
What form of motivation has been most effective for you, personally, to help you achieve your goals?

I write. Whenever I don't feel motivated, if I can just start talking or writing about it I usually snap out of it. I also play the guitar. But talking to other people who may have experienced some of what I feel is the best way to keep me motivated. I love hearing survivors talk about how much they have overcome and telling people myself how much I have been able to accomplish. :)
21st-Mar-2006 09:51 am (UTC)
::hugs:: Thanks for sharing. :) It helps me a lot, too, to hear how other folks get through things - reminds me that it's all possible
21st-Mar-2006 09:57 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you! What you said was very helpful to me. I also give myself "rewards" like you mention. I have these little tricks, like how I look at dealing with the rape. I also have diabetes, and I look at it the same way. It's something that will bother me once and awhile and I have to treat it as quickly and the best way possible. But no matter what I will have bad days. Looking at it like that really helped. Also understanding that my thoughts and feelings (and lack of motivation) are a normal reaction to a very messed up situation. Understanding that I am not crazy and the thoughts, flashbacks, etc come from somewhere helps me realize what are rational thoughts and what are irrational.

Your list idea is also very excellent.
21st-Mar-2006 09:56 am (UTC) - Motivation
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?

These are all inter-related. I mean, I have to go to therapy, and actively seek healing, because in my opinion, the kind of injuries done to folks who have been emotionally, sexually, physically abused do not just heal up on thier own. You can certainly get a certain distance on your own, but I want to be *better*, not just functioning. Without the therapy and without the help of certian minor anti-depressants, I wouldn't be able to do job work or everyday tasks and chores. I would have a hard time crawling out of bed on some days. However, without being able to focus on work and on everyday, normal tasks, I would still be depressed, even with therapy, because there would still be the pervasive opinion of "victim" within me. I'm working on it; obviously, like all of us, I have my good days and my less than good days.
Today is pretty good.

2) If you do have problems with motivation, do you have any ways of finding that motivation? How is it that you motivate yourself?

It is simply amazing the level of motivation I get just from looking at my daughter. I *HAVE* to work on myself, I have to try to understand what others are saying to me, because if I walk around as a member of the "walking wounded" and wholly self-identify that way, I would be providing one heck of an example for her. Also, honestly, the fact that I have a daughter (unfairly, because males are certainly abused as well) scares the blazes out of me, and I want her to feel that she can come to me with ANYTHING, and that I will help her deal with it to the best of my abilities, rather than feeling that she has to tiptoe around me and treat my feelings as though they were damp tissue paper. One of these days, maybe soon, she is going to need me.

and the bonus question:
What form of motivation has been most effective for you, personally, to help you achieve your goals?


The wholehearted belief that I am just fine, I am going to be just fine, and that everything else is just going to get better from here; that the bad stuff is, really, just temporary, just how I am coping right now. That bad things might happen again, but that I have options regarding how I deal with them when and if they arise. I just have to be better prepared for it.

Now, believe me, I have down days where I still don't want to get out of bed. A really annoying beagle and a daughter with cold feet will fix that right up smartly. I try to remember that I am lucky, that I am alive, and that I have a lot of really good reasons to want to keep trying.
21st-Mar-2006 09:57 am (UTC) - Re: Motivation
***please note, all this is an opinion on my part, and your own milage may vary.
21st-Mar-2006 09:58 am (UTC) - Re: Motivation
"The wholehearted belief that I am just fine, I am going to be just fine, and that everything else is just going to get better from here; that the bad stuff is, really, just temporary, just how I am coping right now. That bad things might happen again, but that I have options regarding how I deal with them when and if they arise. I just have to be better prepared for it."

This is an incredible way of looking at it. I couldn't agree with you more. I also always think to myself that the best form of revenge on the person who hurt you is living a full and happy life without fear.
21st-Mar-2006 10:19 am (UTC) - Re: Motivation
"I also always think to myself that the best form of revenge on the person who hurt you is living a full and happy life without fear."

Exactly!
21st-Mar-2006 11:50 am (UTC) - Re: Motivation
Theft, theft, rank arrant theft. I love your icon. I stoled it. If it really, truely offends you, let me know, but it really, seriously made my day.
21st-Mar-2006 02:20 pm (UTC) - Re: Motivation
It doesn't offend me, but if you could credit squittified for making the pensive bear, I'm sure she'd appreciate it :D
22nd-Mar-2006 04:38 am (UTC) - Re: Motivation
I know I already said this, but not only does it not offend me...it makes me happy! Anyone is more than welcome to steal any of my icons at any time. And thanks for the add!
21st-Mar-2006 10:18 am (UTC) - Re: Motivation
::hugs:: Being able to hold onto the hope that things can be okay is a wonderful motivator.

And indeed, it's darn hard ot juggle it all!

Thanks for sharing :)
21st-Mar-2006 02:14 pm (UTC)
I'm just going to answer the bonus question, because I don't think my problem lies in a lack of motivation and more in the lack of strength to continue on, let alone do every day things.

What continues to motivate me is the proof I have that if I work on things in my life that are difficult they will change in time. There are some things I no longer have problems with and some things I'm just starting to make a dent in. And just knowing that some day around the corner things will shift or a realization will come is enough incentive to continue on because things will get better even if it's not right now. A lot of the time that helps me to pay the bills or study for a test...knowing that it may be really hard now, but in time the hard stuff will become easier if I continue to push through it and to remember things aren't going to get any easier if I just avoid them...and to know the more I avoid things the longer I'll be living in this mess. That's what helps me.
21st-Mar-2006 02:22 pm (UTC)
Indeed, being able to focus on the positive, even if you can't see it right now is a great motivator to keep going :)
22nd-Mar-2006 06:09 am (UTC) - moti-what?
I have next to no motivation unless I'm escaping something. I went out and got a new job because I didn't want to be at the one I'm at now. I made it through college because every time I sat down to write a paper I'd tell myself, "I have to do this or I'll fail and I'll move back in with my parents." Which could easily be part of why writing papers is so hard, but if I didn't tell myself that I just never would. I did good in high school because it was better than being home, and got into college because that's what I'd been planning since eighth grade. For everything else I end up relying a lot on willpower and just forcing myself to do it no matter how much I don't want to. It doesn't work that great.

I most often encounter difficulties when thinks are going okay. I don't have any reason to talk to anyone, to leave my room, to *do* anything at all. I may read, if I don't have to go buy a book. There just isn't all that much that I enjoy doing enough to get me moving.

I get myself to do things through habit. I go to work because I go to work every day. I eat because I eat breakfast every day, I make myself a lunch, I come home and find something every day. If I ever skipped I'd know it was a possibility and I probably just wouldn't eat. There was a time when I wrote poetry because it's what I did for the half hour before the dorm served dinner, a time when I painted because that's what I did for three hours every Tuesday.

And then I have the couple of things that are true distractions. There's this roleplaying game, for example, and if I'm busy thinking about my new character I can be doing all the things I need to do in real life. I've had relationships that will get me fired up and blow me over my wall of apathey; that's when I paint the pictures that feel like something. There just isn't that much that does that.

I have calendars, postit notes, scribbles on my hand, emails and sometimes pop-up computer reminders to get me to do things. Because if someone, or somethings, tells me "go do this now" I usually will. It's just coming up with the though of, "Oh, I should go do this now," that's impossible to have or follow through on.

Another great thing was in college my friends and I would all get together in the dinning room and do homework. Having people there who are all doing their own thing, but still know what you're supposed to be doing, helps me focus a lot. Besides, we'd drink tea starting around midnight and tea helps everything :-) If I have to get something done I will make myself a cup of Earl Grey, find someone else to work around and buckle down.
22nd-Mar-2006 09:30 am (UTC) - Re: moti-what?
(Firstly... BOB!!! Eeeeee!)

I've found that tea and post-its help me a lot, too. Sometimes our brains get into that rest period when there isn't anything bad happening, and we get so mellow and happy that nothing bad is happening we forget to do the things we like (or at least, that's what it seems like my brain does sometimes)

::hugs:: thanks for sharing.

(and BOB! EEEE!)
22nd-Mar-2006 09:55 am (UTC) - Re: moti-what?
(Bob is now my universal sign of "unconditional and illogical love exists in this world even when I don't have any". I think it should be a children's book.)

I think it's more that I have been going along at a forced march for most of my life so if I ever don't need to be whipping myself to keep going I collaps on the side of the road and just don't move. Especially if I'm not on meds, I don't have the energy to do what I have to make myself do, much less anything I'd like to. Maybe if I could lower my obligations to match my energy and motivation level I'd be able to, eventually, have extra energy, but I don't see that happening since being able to provide for myself is the stability that keeps me from collapsing completely. Besides, I've done it so far, I can always do it for one more day.
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