“Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.” — Joyce Meyer
This is an overview of how to overcome negative motivation patterns and achieve personal growth.
I think motivation is an important part of daily life.
But how do you get your motivation back once you’ve lost it, or how do you develop it if you feel you never had it?
You have to step on your ANTs (automatic negative thoughts).
To do that effectively, you first need to know the negative thought patterns that take away your motivation to begin with.
In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, Dr. David Burns identifies thirteen negative motivation patterns that take away our drive.
Here are my key takeaways:
- Add a buffer for tolerance in your day to day. Rather than get frustrated when things go wrong, ask how yourself how you might avoid it next time. For example, if you’re always late because you get stuck in traffic, leave earlier. When things go wrong, learn from them, but don’t get frustrated.
- Test your assumptions. Don’t talk yourself out of everything. Prove it with action, and many times you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Start with something simple. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s better to leap over small hurdles, than build a giant wall in front of yourself.
- Change your self-talk. You can beat yourself up, or you can lift yourself up. Turn mistakes into lessons and carry forward lessons learned.
Knowing the set of negative motivation patterns can help you identify counter-productive self-talk that can get in the way of taking action and feeling good.
The Do-Nothingism Mindset
The do-nothingism mindset is a pattern of thinking and behavior where an individual may feel overwhelmed, helpless, or unmotivated to take action towards achieving their goals or making changes in their life.
This mindset can be linked to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and low self-esteem.
To overcome the do-nothingism mindset, it is important to identify the underlying thoughts and emotions that contribute to this way of thinking. This may involve challenging negative self-talk and self-limiting beliefs, building self-confidence and resilience, and developing a more positive and proactive mindset.
Other strategies that can be helpful include setting achievable goals, breaking tasks into smaller steps, and focusing on progress rather than perfection.
The 13 Negative Motivation Patterns
According to Burns, there are 13 procrastination and do-nothingism mindsets:
- Overwhelming Yourself
- Jumping to Conclusions
- Undervaluing the Rewards
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of Success
- Fear of Disapproval or Criticism
- Coercion and Resentment
- Low Frustration Tolerance
- Guilt and Self-blame
The 13 Negative Motivation Patterns Explained
Burns explained the following 13 procrastination and do-nothingism mindsets as follows:
|1. Hopelessness||Your lack of motivation seems unending and irreversible.|
|2. Helplessness||You feel your moods are caused by factors beyond your control, such as fate, hormone cycles, dietary factors, luck, and other people’s evaluations of you.|
|3. Overwhelming Yourself||You may magnify a task to the degree that it seems impossible to tackle.|
|4. Jumping to Conclusions||You sense that it’s not within your power to take effective action that will result in satisfaction because you are in the habit of saying, “I can’t,” or “I would but …”|
|5. Self-Labeling||The more you procrastinate, the more you condemn yourself as inferior.|
|6. Undervaluing the Rewards||You feel the reward simply wouldn’t be worth the effort.|
|7. Perfectionism||You defeat yourself with inappropriate goals and standards.|
|8. Fear of Failure||Because you imagine that putting in the effort and not succeeding would be an overwhelming personal defeat, you refuse to try at all.|
|9. Fear of Success||Because of your lack of confidence, success may seem even more risky than failure because you are certain is it based on chance.|
|10. Fear of Disapproval or Criticism||You imagine that if you try something new, any mistake or flub will be met with strong disapproval or criticism because the people you care about won’t accept you if you are human and imperfect.|
|11. Coercion and Resentment||A deadly enemy of motivation is a sense of coercion. You feel under intense pressure to perform – generated from within and without. This happens when you try to motivate yourself with moralistic “shoulds” and “oughts.” You tell yourself , “I should do this” and “I have to do that.”|
|12. Low Frustration Tolerance||Your frustration results from your habit of comparing reality with an ideal in your head. When the two don’t match, you condemn reality. It doesn’t occur to you that it may be infinitely easier to change your expectations rather than to bend and twist reality.|
|13. Guilt and Self-blame||If you are frozen in the conviction that you are bad or have let others down, you will naturally feel unmotivated to pursue your daily life.|
If you can recognize the 13 negative motivation patterns, then you can defeat them.
Awareness is the first step.
Self-Help Strategies for Negative Motivation Patterns
Throughout the book, Dr. David Burns provides strategies, tools, and techniques to deal with ANTs (automatic negative thoughts).
#1. Hopelessness Negative Motivation Pattern and Self-Help Strategy
Hopelessness is a state of mind where an individual feels a sense of despair and lacks motivation for their future. It is often accompanied by feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and pessimism.
One solution for combating hopelessness is to focus on building resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations, and it can be strengthened through various practices such as mindfulness, gratitude, and social support.
Additionally, setting achievable goals and taking small steps towards them can provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose, leading to a greater sense of hope and motivation.
#2. Helplessness Negative Motivation Pattern and Self-Help Strategy
Learned helplessness is a state of mind where an individual feels powerless to change their situation and become passive, leading to feelings of despair and hopelessness.
The solution is to take small steps towards achievable goals, which can gradually restore feelings of control and self-efficacy.
By focusing on progress rather than perfection, practicing positive self-talk, and seeking support from others, individuals can develop a sense of empowerment and overcome learned helplessness. It may also be helpful to engage in activities that promote self-care and self-compassion, such as exercise, mindfulness, and connecting with loved ones.
#3. Overwhelming Yourself Negative Motivation Pattern and Self-Help Strategy
The problem of overwhelming oneself often arises from taking on too many tasks and responsibilities at once, leading to feelings of stress, anxiety, and a sense of being unable to cope with the demands of daily life.
To solve this, it is important to first identify and prioritize tasks according to their level of urgency and importance. Then, it is helpful to break larger tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps and set realistic goals for oneself.
Practicing self-care, such as getting enough sleep, exercise, and time for relaxation, can also help to alleviate feelings of overwhelm and increase one’s ability to cope with stress.
Learning and practicing mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can also be helpful in reducing feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
#4. Jumping to Conclusions Negative Motivation Pattern and Self-Help Strategy
Jumping to conclusions is a common cognitive distortion that involves making assumptions and interpretations about situations without sufficient evidence or information.
It can lead to negative thoughts and feelings, and limit an individual’s ability to engage in productive problem-solving.
To solve this problem, it is important to challenge negative thoughts and examine the evidence for and against them. By identifying and questioning negative thoughts, individuals can gain a more accurate and balanced perspective on situations.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques such as thought records and cognitive restructuring can be helpful in addressing jumping to conclusions. Additionally, mindfulness practices can help individuals stay present and focused on the present moment, rather than becoming overwhelmed by hypothetical scenarios or assumptions.
Self-labeling is a cognitive distortion where an individual identifies themselves with their flaws, weaknesses or limitations.
This can lead to a negative self-image and limit one’s potential.
To solve this problem, it’s important to identify and challenge these negative self-labels by focusing on strengths, accomplishments and positive qualities. One can also practice self-compassion and kindness towards themselves, and seek support from others who can provide positive feedback and encouragement.
Finally, reframing negative self-talk into positive and realistic statements can help to shift one’s mindset and promote a more positive self-image.
#6. Undervaluing the Rewards
Undervaluing rewards can be a common problem where individuals may underestimate the potential benefits of an activity, leading to avoidance or lack of motivation to pursue it.
This can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as past negative experiences, low self-esteem, or anxiety.
To overcome this problem, it’s essential to identify and challenge any negative thoughts or beliefs that may be contributing to undervaluing the rewards. Additionally, setting specific and achievable goals, practicing self-compassion, and rewarding oneself for accomplishments can help to increase motivation and build positive associations with desired activities.
Perfectionism is a common problem that can lead to excessive self-criticism, procrastination, and avoidance of challenges. It can also interfere with productivity and creativity, and negatively impact mental health.
One way to address perfectionism is to reframe the focus from achieving perfect outcomes to striving for progress and growth.
Additionally, learning to recognize and challenge negative self-talk, setting realistic goals, and practicing self-compassion can also be helpful in reducing the impact of perfectionism.
#8. Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is a common problem that can prevent people from taking risks and pursuing their goals. It is often associated with negative self-talk and a lack of confidence in one’s abilities.
To overcome the fear of failure, it is important to recognize that failure is a natural part of the learning process and that everyone experiences it at some point in their lives.
Developing a growth mindset and focusing on progress rather than perfection can help individuals build resilience and become more comfortable with taking risks. Setting realistic goals, breaking tasks down into manageable steps, and seeking support from others can also be effective strategies for overcoming the fear of failure.
#9. Fear of Success
The fear of success is a common problem where individuals experience anxiety and apprehension about achieving their goals and fulfilling their potential.
The fear of success often stems from the fear of the unknown or the fear of change that can accompany success. Individuals may also fear that success will bring more responsibilities, criticism, and expectations.
To overcome the fear of success, individuals should first identify the root cause of their fear and work to address it.
They should also learn to embrace change and uncertainty by setting small, achievable goals that gradually build towards larger successes.
#10. Fear of Disapproval or Criticism
The fear of disapproval or criticism is a common problem that can hold people back from pursuing their goals and taking risks. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, and self-doubt, which can interfere with personal and professional growth.
To solve this problem, individuals can work on building their self-confidence and self-esteem by practicing self-compassion, challenging negative self-talk, and seeking constructive feedback from trusted sources.
It’s important to remember that everyone receives criticism at some point, and it can be an opportunity for growth and improvement.
#11. Coercion and Resentment
The problem of coercion and resentment can arise when an individual feels forced or manipulated into doing something they don’t want to do, leading to feelings of anger and bitterness towards the person or situation involved.
To solve this problem, it’s important to set clear boundaries and communicate assertively, expressing your needs and desires while also respecting the needs and desires of others.
Practicing mindfulness and self-reflection can also help in identifying the sources of coercion and resentment and developing healthier coping mechanisms.
#13. Guilt and Self-Blame
Guilt and self-blame can stem from a variety of sources, including past events, current behavior, or unrealistic expectations. Individuals who struggle with guilt and self-blame may experience feelings of worthlessness, shame, and inadequacy.
To overcome these negative emotions, it’s important to recognize the root cause of these feelings and challenge negative thought patterns with positive self-talk and affirmations.
It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes and it’s possible to learn from them and move forward.
How To Address Your ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts)
Automatic negative thoughts are common and can be challenging to deal with, but there are several techniques that can be helpful in managing them. Here are a few:
- Recognize and identify the negative thoughts: Pay attention to your thoughts and try to identify any negative patterns or beliefs that are contributing to your negative feelings.
- Challenge the negative thoughts: Once you’ve identified your negative thoughts, question them and challenge their accuracy. Ask yourself if they are based on facts or if they are simply assumptions or interpretations.
- Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: After you’ve challenged your negative thoughts, try to replace them with more positive, realistic thoughts. For example, instead of thinking “I always mess things up,” try thinking “I’ve made mistakes in the past, but I’ve also had successes and I can learn from my mistakes.”
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, and can help you cultivate a more positive and accepting mindset.
- Seek support: Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional can help you process your negative thoughts and feelings and develop strategies for managing them.
It’s important to remember that managing automatic negative thoughts is a process and may take time and practice. Be patient and compassionate with yourself, and celebrate small victories along the way.
Overcome Your Negative Motivation Patterns with Skill
The 13 negative motivation patterns we’ve explored can significantly impact our lives and hold us back from achieving our goals.
However, by recognizing and addressing these patterns, we can break free from their limiting grip and take control of our lives. It’s essential to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes time and effort to break negative habits.
But with the right mindset and tools, we can overcome these patterns and create a positive and fulfilling life.
So let’s make a conscious effort to challenge our negative patterns, focus on our strengths, and embrace a growth mindset, and ultimately create the life we deserve.
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