Like most of us, you probably grew up with the punishment model of motivation. I call this the “carrot and stick principle”. I like carrots, but not that kind.
We’re all familiar with it: punish the bad, reward the good. Unfortunately, the side effects of that model are that the good get self-righteous and the bad get worse. It’s built on a foundation of guilt and shame.
It’s a common mistake to believe that we will make progress in our lives through guilt or shame. These energies simply do not create lasting change.
There are some critical things missing from this model of motivation They include empathy, self-awareness, and empowerment. Furthermore, shame more deeply entrenches bad behavior so it becomes a closed loop with no escape. What a tangle.
There’s nothing enlightened about using guilt and shame to twist your own arm. Isn’t there a better way? YES! I suggest the following approach, instead.
First, listen deeply to yourself instead of getting upset (at yourself or others). There’s sure to be a valid reason why you lack motivation. Hold yourself in nonjudgmental awareness until you see what is true. This is mindfulness.
Second, be kind when you have setbacks. Everyone has them. Trust the higher version of yourself to prevail. Forgive yourself for acting badly. Learn from your failures. This is compassion.
And third, make failure less likely in the future by training your brain. Yoga, mindfulness, and physical exercise improve the prefrontal function and are effective motivators in the long term. Training will help you master the tools you need before you need to use them and make you strong in the face of temptation. This is willpower.
Expect to be a better, stronger person tomorrow than you are today and that will be your experience.