Why motivation stops working and how to turn it back on

Goal oriented motivation is great until it isn’t. Until it stops working because you just had too many bad experiences, setbacks and relapses, when just thinking about exercise and healthy living makes you shiver. Eventually, no matter how you motivate yourself, force or shame yourself into training – it’s just not going to happen and you know it. You know it because all of the experiences you had before and all of the memories you have about the process are negative. And that is exactly why motivation stops working.

Our memories define us, shape our personality – our likes and dislikes. If we had a bad experience with something in the past we will be reluctant to partake in the same event twice, for example. Repeated bad experience reaffirms that in our minds, the memory will shape our understanding and relation to that something in the future. In the studies run by psychologist Elizabeth Loftus participants were implanted with false memories which led them to reevaluate their likes and dislikes towards giving things, including taste and exercise preferences. When such memory manipulation is, perhaps, a questionable undertaking the theory behind it can help us understand how we can nudge ourselves and shape our own habits to make better choices naturally where fitness is concerned


Most people see fitness as something dreadful, a necessary evil but evil nonetheless, something you have to do but you never really want to. And that’s why so many people find that motivation doesn’t last. After all, you can’t motivate yourself forever to do something you hate. If all you have are the bad memories of exercise – you will find that no amount of motivation will get you moving. And the more you try and fail, the more you relapse – the harder it gets. All you remember is the hardship of staying on track, sticking to the diet and exhausting exercise regimes – only the bad experiences of it. And that’s why eventually it just becomes easier to give up altogether.

Positive memories, positive experiences of a healthy lifestyle – are the key to lasting motivation. So don’t try and force yourself into change through things you hate, start small and see how far it’ll take you. Take up something you can actually enjoy so you can have a good memory of it later on, whatever you do – make it fun, make it exciting and thrilling. Don’t eat all the stuff you hate, figure out what is healthy but you can actually enjoy eating or do “one thing at a time” kind of swap. Don’t try to do too much at once – you’ll hate it, you’ll hate it and you’ll find it harder to do it again the next day, the next week, month and year.  Sustainable fitness is what you should be aiming for.

Most importantly, concentrate on the positive side of exercise, don’t complain about the pain and tell everyone how horrible your training session was. You are not just telling others, you are reaffirming the idea of “exercise = awful” in your own head. The more you concentrate on the bad, the deeper the idea sinks into your mind and the harder it’ll be for you to do it again. Instead, tell yourself how awesome and exciting the experience was every single time, even if you have to fake it – it’ll do the trick. What we let ourselves believe and then remember becomes us and that’s how we shape our future with our past.

Source : http://neilarey.com


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