We all lack motivation from time to time, and getting up and moving can be difficult and emotionally painful. When we’re depressed, though, we lack the motivation to get going and we carry a boulder-sized mass of feelings of worthlessness and unlovability. When we are feeling this way, we need help to turn things around.
In my house, I have a row of self-help books. They range from the highly pragmatic to the spiritually searching. Many of the authors featured on the shelf are motivational or inspirational speakers. Sometimes, when I am feeling down, I like to grab a random title and open it to a random page to see what message stands out to me. I like to imagine that the message that stands out is the exact message I need to better cope with my feelings.
Let’s see what advice and counsel some of these authors have when it comes to getting motivated while depressed.
Panache Desai, author of You Are Enough
“Your willingness to surrender to the feeling of unworthiness, unlovability, or not being enough is the crack that allows grace to enter.”
You might think, what good could possibly come from surrendering to the feeling of unworthiness, unlovability, or not-enough-ness? Aren’t I supposed to refute or defeat the irrational thoughts that say I’m worthless, unlovable, or not enough? And isn’t surrender the exact opposite of that?
Well, in a way, I suppose it is. And that’s precisely why it seems to work.
When you surrender to something that disturbs or upsets you, you surround that disturbance with a wreath of non-peace (or non-resistance), which transforms the non-peace into peace. This is because when you surrender, there is no longer any resistance to prop up the non-peace; as a result, it begins to loosen and dissipate.
When you are depressed and lack the motivation to complete basic tasks, the first step toward recovery should require the least amount of effort possible. This is why surrender is a good place to start. It takes no effort at all to surrender. Think about that slowly and carefully. It requires effort to hold on, but no effort at all simply to let go.
Surrender to the reality that, for now, you are depressed (i.e., feeling worthless, unlovable, and inadequate). Recognize that when you struggle against it out of fear — either by pushing or pulling — you only ensnare yourself further, like quicksand.
Jordan Peterson, Author of 12 Rules for Life
“Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.”
It is not uncommon to hear depressed persons say that they have no problem going to work day after day, despite the fact that they lack the motivation to complete even the most basic tasks for themselves. Often they say they can find the will to continue to go to work, for example, because failing to do so would negatively affect others and not merely themselves. A depressed person may reason, If I am the only person who stands to suffer as a result of a self-defeating choice or action, it is easier to make that choice. What does it matter if I undermine myself, if no one else is hurt in the process? I deserve it. It’s others who shouldn’t have to suffer on my loathsome account.
At such times, it can be helpful to engage in a thought exercise called double-standard dispute. It involves imagining that someone with whom you are close — a friend, a neighbor, a family member — approached you and disclosed that they were feeling the same way you are now. What would you say to them if you saw them? You would probably tell them that their health and well-being matter. When you treat yourself as someone you are responsible for helping, you can begin to recognize that you have the same value that you see in others.
Marianne Williamson, Author of Tears to Triumph
“It is often easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.”
Recognize that you are already capable of performing actions that are out of sync with your present feeling or mood—for example, when you rise in the morning to go to work, even though you may really feel like staying in bed.
You do not have to wait for your feelings to come into alignment with the actions you know you need to take to improve your circumstances or outlook; if you did, you would probably be waiting a long time, and the longed-for change would never take place. Instead, put into practice the principle that you are capable of acting contrary to the way you feel.
These are three ways to get motivated while depressed.
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I strive to create a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment for individuals who are confronting issues related to adjustment, anxiety, depression, grief, stress, relationships, and trauma. I specialize in helping individuals who find themselves caught in repetitive patterns of less-than-effective coping and bewildering self-defeat, and those with LGBTQ+ concerns. Call or message today to schedule your free phone consultation or arrange your first appointment.