I have a question and would love your help.
I have generally been feeling a lack of motivation about a number of things in my life. I will initially get excited about something, but then get stopped for any number of reasons my mind dreams up. As a result, I have difficulty moving forward.
I was asked to coordinate a committee that I’ve been involved with in the past. I had reservations about doing it again, but also felt some renewed excitement. Mostly, I felt that I “should” do it, as it’s a very good cause to support. I basically accepted, but expressed my reservations to the organization’s staff, and now I need to get back to them with my final answer. This past week I’ve looked inside. I’m clearly seeing I don’t want to take it on again. I also see what’s behind my “should’s”: so and so will be disappointed in me, I’m a failure, they won’t be happy with me, they will never ask me again, going back on my word, on and on and on… I also am afraid to call back and decline. It would be so much easier if I just wanted to do it.
I know none of this mind talk is true. I can call and decline. I can continue to sit with this lack of motivation. I know that there is no right or wrong way to be. Yet, I don’t trust that I’m doing the right thing. There is a deep fear or lack of trust in myself and my decisions, and a feeling that I should know all the answers. Please help??!!!
Doubting and Confused
Dear Doubting and Confused,
I so appreciate your question, as it speaks to concerns that many of us can relate to.
The essence of this problem seems to be a conflict between what you genuinely want to do and what you think you “should” do. As you know, “should’s” can cause a lot of trouble. When a thought appears saying, “I should” or “I shouldn’t,” it’s like being caught in a stranglehold. You have a deep longing to feel free to act on what your heart desires (i.e., decline coordinating the committee) – and you must contend with the harsh voice of the inner critic reprimanding and berating you for wanting what you want. Somehow you have come to believe it, as what you are calling a “lack of motivation” is actually your true desire to say no.
So what to do with this pesky critical voice that has been bringing suffering to your life for so long? First, know that it is possible to be free of it. Others who have gone before you have actually discovered the freedom from self-criticism, and you can, too.
Now, let’s get down to business. If you follow these steps every time you hear the critical thoughts, they will eventually subside, and you will feel more relaxed and less confused.
- Take an honest look at the inner critic to see what its purpose is. Is it trying to protect you or motivate you? Is it keeping you in line so you don’t make mistakes or get into trouble?
- Next, see that the source of this critical voice is fear – of failure or rejection, of not being good enough. At its core this voice is terrified, and the fear needs your loving attention.
- Meet the fear. Allow it to be…see how it feels in your body…ask it what it needs. Your inner conversation might look something like this:
- Acknowledge the effects of this critical voice: undermining trust in yourself; creating guilt, shame, and confusion; limiting your enjoyment; making you believe things about yourself that aren’t true; keeping you tense; interfering with the natural flow of your life. Are you ready to walk away from it?
- Reflect inside and see what you want your life to be about. Here are some choices: fear, limitation, lack, freedom, lightness, ease. What do you choose?
- Now this the hard part because your willingness to be free needs to be stronger than the force of the habit that is controlling you. Make the decision to not put your attention onto the critical thoughts. They may blow through your mind like a hurricane, begging for your attention, but to each thought say, “not true” or “no thank you.” You are keeping your attention on the here-and-now and casting a vote for your happiness.
- As you reject the thoughts, you are likely to experience the fear that has been fueling them all along. Again, meet the fear (see #3 above).
- Take this process on as a project, as you are trying to turn around a habit that has been in place for a long time. Address these critical thoughts every time they occur (see #5 above). If you do, eventually they will lose their steam. You will have more clarity and begin trusting yourself.
“Hello, fear.” Already it is in shock because it is so used to being hidden. “I know you have been here for a long time, and now I would like to get to know you better. It’s OK for you to just be here. What do you need so that you can relax and not be so afraid?” Be open to whatever answers you receive; they are likely to be very illuminating.
Your radiance awaits you. Choose life, and allow yourself to shine. Please feel free to write again and let me know how it’s going.