My Musings

Lesson 5 – Your motivation needs to be positive AND negative

The world is awash with the concept of motivation, and particularly positive motivation. And it is a powerful concept, one that has earned many, many millions of dollars – through book sales, courses, therapy, coaching and other forms.

But it doesn’t really work (not for long and not sustainably), and never will – at least not in isolation. It is time we embraced the duality, the yin and yang of motivation. To truly affect change (at least in the immediate), it is essential to use both negative and positive motivations.

For example, in the disciplining of our children, what do you think would be most effective:
1. Stop throwing sand in Johnnies face (with a loud angry voice)
2. Play gently with Johnny (with a nice calm voice)
3. Stop throwing sand in Johnnies face AND play gently with Johnnie (with a stern, non-emotional voice)

The world is awash with teaching parents to use option 2, but what we hear is option one, over and over. What I know works is option 3. Why, you are both telling them what not to do and what to replace it with. Too often, one without the other leaves the child confused. If I stop doing that, what will I do, or if I am meant to play gently, well you haven’t really told me what I am doing that is not acceptable.

Try these on for other examples:

At work:
1. Stop talking so much
2. Focus on your work
3. Stop talking so much AND focus on your work

In a relationship
1. We only talk about unimportant things
2. I wish we could talk about the important issues in our relationship
3. We only talk about unimportant things, and I wish to deepen our communication
1. I am hopeless with commitment
2. I want a great relationship
3. I acknowledge I have historically had issues with commitment and I am choosing to seek a great relationship

In your health
1. I want to stop eating rubbish
2. I am only going to eat healthy food
3. I am going to stop eating so much rubbish and eat more healthy food
1. Smoking is bad for me
2. I am choosing to have healthy lungs
3. Smoking is bad for me and I am choosing to have healthy lungs
1. I am going to lose 20kgs
2. I am going to be slim and self confident
3. I am losing 20kgs to become more slim and self confident

About self generally
1. I am useless
2. I am a wonderful and valuable person
3. I acknowledge I have issues with my value and I am choosing to appreciate what value I have

Get the picture. When the motivation is only negative, this is where our focus goes. When it is only positive, it might not be enough to propel us forward. When we use both, we can set the stage for the full story; where ownership to change at least has a head start.

Try it on for yourself. Focus on your language of motivation – negative or positive. Then create the opposite of this. Then use both of them in the next place or time you find this energy triggered.

Love to know. So, please share.

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